1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Torpedo Phaeton SOLD

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

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ESTIMATE: $275,000 - $350,000

$511,500 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"

An original Alpine Eagle specification chassis, 50 UG was fitted with the higher compression engine, higher speed gearing, and “ D ” rake steering and levers. The car was off test on September 3rd, 1921 and immediately sent to Hooper & Co. where a Touring Phaeton body was fitted. It was a striking car, finished in ivory with black chassis, underfenders, and wheels and apple green leather.

According to noted Silver Ghost expert and author John Fasal, 50 UG was built for Rolls-Royce of Bombay and shipped on board the S.S. “ Nankin ” together with a Barker Cabriolet (126 AG) on November 4th, 1921 for the Calcutta Motor Show held on December 19th, 1921. Both cars were featured in the December 17th issue of “ The Autocar ” .

At the Motor Show, 50 UG was sold to H.H. the Maharajah of Charkhari. According to Fasal, the Maharajah presided over the state of Bundelkhand in central India, succeeded to the throne in 1920, and “ was entitled to an 11 gun salute ” .

On March 31st, 1926, factory records indicate that His Highness returned the car to the factory where the car ’ s stunning polished alloy Torpedo Phaeton coachwork was constructed by Barker and installed. The original build sheets for this body clearly state that the body finish is to be “ polished aluminium throughout ” . Additional notes specify a number of other special features:

Footboards in Aluminium
Folding Armrest to Front Seat
Folding Armrest to Rear Seat
Auster Rear Screen (windshield)
Hood Irons Nickel Plated
Nickel Plated Luggage Grid and Guard Rail
Carpet to Front Floor
Dashboard Finish Nickel
Polished Aluminium Mudguards between Chassis and Platform Steps

Other original equipment includes matching Lucas “ King of the Road ” headlights and fender lights, dual side- mounted spares with accessory Rolls-Royce rear view mirrors, aluminium tool box and running board compartments, and a Boa horn in addition to the electric Klaxon horn mounted in the engine compartment.

The car was discovered years ago, still in India, still wearing its period Barker polished alloy coachwork, and showing approximately 10,000 miles on its odometer. The provenance of the car is truly remarkable, with the original build sheets confirming virtually every detail of the car.

The vendor acquired 50UG in 1990, and immediately commissioned D&D Restorations to undertake a complete restoration. The quality of the car was such that during the restoration, no panel replacement was required. As a result, it required nothing more than a thorough polishing to restore it to its former luster. After completion of the restoration in 1995, the car was shown at a number of events, where it never failed to win.

Awards include:
Class Winner 1995 RROC National Meet (Philadelphia)
Best in Class 1995 Meadow Brook Concours d ’ Elegance
Best in Class 1999 Amelia Island Concours d ’ Elegance
Class Winner 2000 Pebble Beach Concours d ’ Elegance
Best in Class Barrymore Award 2003 RROC National Meet (Newport, RI)
Most Silent Ghost

During a recent road test and mechanical evaluation, the vendor demonstrated a cold start, standing outside the car. The engine fired immediately and settled into a smooth idle. Once warmed up, the car ran well, with exceptionally smooth clutch action and an excellent gearbox. The steering, while heavy at rest, was quite light and maneuverable once underway. A regular program of maintenance by noted Silver Ghost restorer Steve Littin has ensured that the car remains in peak operating condition.

50 UG represents an unparalleled opportunity to acquire a Silver Ghost with impeccable provenance and a fascinating history. Not only was it built for, and sold at, the Calcutta Motor Show, but its original owner sent the car back to England to be fitted with one of the most extravagant bodies of the time. It is difficult to imagine the sensation - in London or in India - that would have been created by the sight of this stunning Silver Ghost.

Reference Number 5832

as of 1/10/2007

Overview
Car 1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Torpedo Phaeton
VIN 50UG 
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