1911 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi Des Belges SOLD

RM Vintage Motorcars in Arizona - Biltmore Resort & Spa, Friday January 19, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $800,000 - $1,100,000

$797,500 Sold

In 1904, an inspired partnership between an adventurer and an engineer gave birth to the most enduring automotive legacy: the Rolls-Royce. Just two years later, they created what many agree was the most influential automobile in the early decades of motoring: the legendary Silver Ghost.

In the context of its day, a Silver Ghost was an awe-inspiring sight. At a time when many had not seen - let alone owned - an automobile, here was a truly majestic creation. Most automobiles on the road then were light one and two cylinder machines whose wooden chassis, wagon wheels and tiller steering clearly attested to their roots as horseless carriages.

Frederick Henry Royce was an incomparable engineer; the Silver Ghost offered the power and refinement of a six from the very beginning. More than that, its abundant torque and virtually silent operation astounded anyone fortunate enough to drive one. Here was the first true luxury automobile, capable of carrying the most elegant bespoke coachwork, and able to accelerate almost from rest in top gear.

If the performance of the Silver Ghost was startling, it was the legendary quality of the Rolls-Royce that made its owners happy – and kept them coming back. Royce was a man who referred to the assembly of his cars as a careful sewing together of precision parts; it was a radical concept at a time when other cars ’ construction had more in common with the blacksmith ’ s methods.

The history of the automobile is littered with good products that failed in the market, and it was here that the Honorable Charles Stewart Rolls made his contribution. A consummate marketer, he was also an automotive enthusiast, racecar driver and an aviator. Rolls understood the publicity that would follow from success in competition, and he set about promoting the new Silver Ghost in the world's most important automobile events.

The Tourist Trophy Race was one of the most prestigious events of the era, and was won by Rolls and Royce in commanding fashion in 1906, when the pair beat their nearest competition by 27 minutes. This was followed by the famous 15,000 mile reliability run of 1907, where the original Silver Ghost finished the event and required only very minor work to restore it to as-new specification. There was also the grueling Austrian Alpine Trials where the Silver Ghosts dominated their competition and plowed over alpine passes that had proven impassable by lesser cars.

At the same time, Rolls demonstrated an early grasp of the concept of product placement. The company supplied cars to the British royal family, and in so doing, cemented the image of the marque among England ’ s high society. So began the legend of the world ’ s finest automobile.

Even today, a Silver Ghost is remarkably refined, outperforming cars a dozen or more years newer. The steering is refreshingly light and responsive, and the action of the clutch and transmission is that of a much newer car. It is difficult to imagine a more usable and comfortable steed for brass era tours – and certainly none with the elegance and style of the incomparable Silver Ghost.

48bhp 7,248cc side valve six-cylinder engine cast in pairs, three-speed manual gearbox, front semi-elliptic leaf spring and rear three-quarter elliptic leaf spring, rear-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5"

The prewar Silver Ghost is an icon in the world of car collecting. They were, quite simply, the best cars in the world – and they inspired a host of competitors. Many offered good cars, but none ever matched the inspired engineering, attention to quality, and the peerless reputation of the original Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.

Chassis #1574 was completed and placed on test March 3rd, 1911, and shipped on April 24th. Fitted with a cabriolet body by Alford & Alder, it was delivered new to Mr. N. Gatti in London, who kept the car until 1919. The second owner was Mr. W. F. Hawkes of London, who kept the car until 1925, when he sold it to Dr. J.M. Lees of Leeds. Later, in 1946, #1574 was in the care of Wing Commander M. W. Anderson of Doncaster.

As is so often the case with prewar Ghosts, #1574 lost its original Alford & Alder body, and was fitted with an original Roi-des-Belges style body after the war.

In 1958, San Diego collector R. E. Tyson bought #1574 from Anderson, importing it into the U.S. He removed the Roi-des-Belges body, probably in order to mount it to another car. Little is known of the car after its arrival in San Diego, but as of 1986 the car was part of the well-known collection of Millard Newman in Florida. By this time, it was fitted with a lovely original Roi-des-Belges influenced tourer body by Alford & Alder. While there is no way to know which chassis originally carried the body now fitted to chassis #1574, it is an original body executed by Alford & Alder, and it has been expertly restored. Photos taken prior to the restoration (and available for viewing in the auction office) demonstrate the exceptional original condition of the coachwork prior to restoration.

The initial restoration was undertaken by the late Millard Newman, who commissioned noted U.K. Rolls-Royce restorer David Hemmings to carry out a careful refurbishment. Following this work, the car earned its AACA National Senior award at the Hershey Fall Meet in 1996.

The vendor purchased the car from Mr. Newman ’ s estate in 2001, and immediately embarked upon a comprehensive program of upgrades and renovation, carried out by noted Silver Ghost expert Steve Littin. The body was completely restored to American concours standards, new fenders were fitted, and the engine and transmission were completely rebuilt, resulting in a reliable car that has toured nearly 2,000 trouble free miles since completion.

Following the restoration, the car was honored with a number of prestigious awards, including the following:
Scher Trophy: “ Best Silver Ghost in Show ” 2002 RROC National Meet
Best Silver Ghost and Best Rolls-Royce 2002 Amelia Island Concours
First in Class and Best in Show 2003 RROC National Meet
Chairman ’ s Trophy 2004 Hilton Head Island Concours
Best European Coachwork 2005 Meadow Brook Concours

Finished in Garnet Red with black trim and gold pinstriping, and trimmed in rich tan leather with tan top, tonneau, and side curtains, #1574 is one of the most striking Silver Ghosts extant. The coachwork is accented with flawlessly restored brass brightwork. The effect is breathtaking, rendering bystanders speechless with admiration.

The car is extremely well-equipped, with magnificent French-made BRC headlamps, and a matched set of Lucas “ King of the Road ” lamps – a pair of #754 side lamps and a pair of #632 tail lamps – each fitted with a custom fleece lined canvas cover. Other accessories include a Boa bulb horn, a correct period Klaxon, and a 100 mph Smith ’ s speedometer with odometer. In addition, the car is fitted with an exhaust cut-out (marked “ Not for use in the U.K. ” !), a proper brass plated tilting windshield with accessory rear view mirrors, and a radiator cap mounted period RAC member ’ s badge.

An extensive file of documentation includes copies of the original build records for the car. Among other things, they confirm the original installation of a brass radiator and fittings – an unusual and highly desirable specification. Detailed records chronicle the car ’ s ownership history, providing a fascinating glimpse into the history of one of the most desirable surviving Silver Ghosts.

A recent road test involving more than an hour of touring at a wide variety of speeds revealed the exceptional mechanical condition of #1574. Top gear acceleration from a rolling start was both smooth and powerful, and long hills were climbed as if propelled by an unseen hand. Steering and braking were light and quick for the time, and the car exhibited no bad habits. Silver Ghosts are often described as being far ahead of their time, and the driving experience of #1574 provides startling evidence of the truth of that statement.

Restored and maintained by noted Silver Ghost expert Steve Littin, the attention to detail exhibited by #1574 is remarkable. It is proper and correct in every respect other than the installation of a modern starter motor and associated electrical system, which makes starting a painless and simple task.

Silver Ghosts are remarkable automobiles, and none are more highly prized than these early “ parallel bonnet ” cars. Given the exceptional quality, undeniable beauty, and fascinating provenance of these cars, they represent exceptional value in today ’ s market. Ghost owners love their cars, and consequently they are rarely offered for sale. Looking at the stunning example offered here, it is easy to understand why.

Reference Number 5830

as of 1/10/2007

Car 1911 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi Des Belges
VIN 1574 
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