Although the 40/50hp model would have earned its ‘The Best Car in the World’ sobriquet in any event, Rolls-Royce’s decision to drop all other types only served to focus attention on what would become known as the ‘Silver Ghost’. Prior to 1908, when it relocated to a new factory in Derby, the company founded by engineer Frederick Henry Royce and entrepreneur the Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls had manufactured a variety of models at its Manchester premises. Cars with two, three, four and six cylinders were made, and even an abortive V8, before Managing Director Claude Johnson’s decision to concentrate on the range-topping 40/50hp. The latter had first appeared at the 1906 Motor Show and became known as the ‘Silver Ghost’ the following year when chassis number ‘60551’ was exhibited wearing silver-painted tourer coachwork by Barker.
The heart of the Silver Ghost was its magnificent engine, a 7,036cc (later 7,428cc) sidevalve six equipped with seven-bearing crankshaft and pressure lubrication. A sturdy chassis comprised of channel-section side members and tubular cross members was suspended on semi-elliptic springs at the front and a ‘platform’ leaf-spring arrangement at the rear, though the latter soon came in for revision. The transmission too was soon changed: a three-speed gearbox with direct-drive top gear replacing the original four-speed/overdrive top unit in 1909. In the course of its 20-year production life there would be countless other improvements to the car, one of the most important being the adoption of servo-assisted four-wheel brakes towards the end of 1923. The Silver Ghost remained in production in England until 1925 and at Rolls-Royce’s Springfield plant in the USA until 1926, the longest production run of any model from that celebrated company.
This wonderfully original Ghost was despatched to Barker on May 1920, supplied with Limousine coachwork and sold with a purchase price of £1,575. The Ghost was later acquired by our vendor’s family in the mid-1980s, joining his small Rolls-Royce collection. Over the years the Ghost has been stored carefully and used for rallies and weekend wedding duties. Offered for the first time in over 30 years, and supplied with a UK V5 document, this is a wonderful prospect for the Rolls-Royce enthusiast. A fine opportunity to acquire a very original Ghost with a lovely patina.