1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith news, pictures, specifications, and information
Express Limousine
Coachwork: Hooper
Chassis Num: ELW60
Sold for $118,250 at 2006 RM Sothebys.
Sold for $93,500 at 2010 RM Sothebys.
Sold for $79,773 (£50,400) at 2010 RM Sothebys.
The Wraith was introduced in 1936 as its entry level vehicle and as a replacement for the 25/30. Production continued until the Second World War. When the war concluded the vehicle was updated and given the name Silver Wraith with production lasting from 1946 to 1959.

There were two wheelbases available on the Silver Wraith, the 127 and 134 inch. There were over 1200 examples built on the 127 inch platform and about half that amount on the 134 inch wheelbase. Under the hood was a 4.9 liter six-cylinder engine that was adequate enough to carry the vehicles along at a comfortable 80 mph. A four-speed manual gearbox was standard until 1952 when it was replaced with a four-speed automatic unit.

The Silver Wraith's were available as complete cars with factory coachwork or as 'chassis only'. The 'chassis-only' assembly allowed the buyer to completely customize their vehicle and have it finished by one of the renowned coachbuilders of the time, such as H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward, Hooper, and Freestone and Webb, to name a few.

Hooper Ltd. began bodying Rolls-Royce vehicles in the early 1920s. They built a reputation around their limousines and chauffer driven town cars, some the nicest designs in the business.

This 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith with chassis number ELW60 is an Empress Limousine with design number 8390. It is one of only 13 Hooper Company coachbuilt examples built on a Silver Wraith chassis. The body is built from hand formed aluminum over a wooden skeleton. A chrome accent piece runs the entire beltline of the vehicle. The chauffeur's compartment is finished in silver-grey leather while the rear passenger compartment is matching silver-grey cloth. Hand polished woodwork can be found throughout the interior. The passenger's center console is equipped with a telescopic mirror and independent climate controls.

This Silver Wraith was created for the Chairman of the Libby Ball Bearings Company, Mr. Gwinn. Soon after its completion it was sent to the United States where it resided a Chicago Collection for a number of years. It was later purchased by a collector in Florida. The Silver Wraith stayed in the collection for 25 years before being purchased by its current owner. A mechanical and cosmetic restoration began in the 1990s and completed nearly 10 years later.

At the 2006 RM Auction in Meadow Brook, it was estimated to fetch between $80,000 - $120,000. It found a new home at a price of $118,250.

There were nearly 2,000 Silver Wraiths constructed. This example is one of only 13 Hooper examples. In 2010, this Empress Limousine by Hooper was offered for sale at RM Auctions 'Automobiles of Amelia Island' sale in Amelia Island, Florida. The car was estimated to sell for $75,000-$100,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car has been sold for the sum of $93,500, inclusive of buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010
Touring Limousine
Coachwork: Mulliner
Chassis Num: LEL W92
High bid of $70,000 at 2009 Kruse International. (did not sell)
Mrs. Fricke for the Hotel Paris in Paris, France, ordered this car in 1956. The car came to the USA in 1980 and was used in the 1981 motion picture hit 'Arthur,' which starred Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli, and Sir John Gielgud. This movie won Oscars fo  [Read More...]
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith was introduced in 1946 and produced through 1959. It was an evolution of the prewar Wraith offering a new chassis and fitted with a 4.2-liter engine developed before the war. A four-speed manual gearbox was utilized and   [Read More...]
The Silver Wraith, launched in 1947, was an evolution of the pre-war Wraith and was offered in the traditional chassis form ready for the fitting of Bespoke coachwork. The 4,257cc overhead-inlet, side-exhaust engine developed before the war was used, as well as a modified coil and wishbone independent front suspension. Hydraulic brakes were used for the first time on a Rolls-Royce wîth hydraulic brakes.

The Silver Wraith was constantly refined during its production. The engine was replaced wîth the 'big bore' 4,566cc in 1951 and automatic transmission was offered as an option in 1952.

Once again the press raved about the car. 'All the world knows that Rolls-Royce carry on an unremitting search for engineering perfection in everything they undertake. The qualities which made their aircraft engines famous, and their cars the finest procurable, are the result of hard work scientifically conducted, and of a painstaking attention to detail from the large to the most minute. And now a new range of cars is about to appear it is believed that the new cars are the best that Rolls-Royce have ever built.'

The Silver Wraith was described like this: 'In common wîth all Rolls-Royce cars, the Silver Wraith has an indefinable something about it, a delicacy of behaviour, which escapes definition in written words. it is a car for the connoisseur in cars'.

Source - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
At a time when most of England was suffering post war and didn't have much use for a luxury motorcar, Rolls Royce decided to no longer produce cars in strictly separate series. Instead they would create as many parts of the engine, chassis and gearbox that would be identical for the different makes, and therefore easily interchangeable. The British economy had suffered due to raw materials shortages, prohibitive purchase tax and petrol rationing. The Silver Wraith was the embodiment of the new company philosophy of a reliable car with components that could be easily maintained.

Considered by many to be the most technologically advanced Rolls Royce model in history, the Silver Wraith was an exceptional graceful and elegant automobile. Introduced in 1946 the Silver Wraith was produced at the Crewe factory. The first post-war Rolls-Royce model, the Silver Wraith rode on a 127-inch wheelbase that was based heavily on the pre-war Wraith with coil sprung independent front suspension and semi-elliptic rear with a live axle. Also based on the Wraith, the engine featured a cylinder head with overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves and an initial capacity of 4,257 cc and 135 horsepower.

The capacity was increased to 4566 cc in 1951, and to 4887 in 1954 on the long-wheelbase models. The Wraith's braking system was a hybrid hydro mechanical system with hydraulic front brakes and mechanical rears that utilized the mechanical servo from the pre-war cars, which was patented by Hispano-Suiza and built by Rolls Royce under license. For the first time on a Rolls Royce hydraulic brakes were used.

In 1951 Rolls Royce announced the long, 133-inch wheelbase chassis. A total of 639 of these units were produced until 1969. The final short-wheelbase models were made in 1953. At first only a four-speed manual gearbox was available but in 1952 a General Motors automatic option was added to the list of offerings.

The Silver Wraith was the final Rolls-Royce model that would be delivered in 'chassis only' form with the intent to be bodied by independent coachbuilders. The number of specialist coachbuilders was quickly declining over the years. Many of the Silver Wraith bodies selected used 'formal limousine designs'. The Bentley Mark Vi was offered for customers that wanted to purchase their car with a standard body already fitted. The Silver Wraith differed from the Mark VI in the fact that it wasn't a complete car, merely a rolling chassis. The Silver Wraith outlived the Mark VI and continued to survive until 1959 by undergoing modernizations like automatic gearbox and power assisted steering. The Silver Wraith would be the final Rolls Royce that showed a vast variety of coachwork styles.

The Rolls Royce Silver Wraith has filled many official capacities over the years including the Royal Dutch State Limousine in 1958, the Royal Danish Ceremonial Car 'Store Krone' also in 1958, the Irish Presidential State Car from 1947 until now. Other official uses include the Ceremonial State Car for the Brazilian President in 1952. The

The Silver Wraith had numerous movie cameos over the years including 1968 'The Love Bug', 1975 'The Return of the Pink Panther', 1989 'Batman', 1992 'Batman Returns' and even the recent 2012 film 'The S


By Jessica Donaldson
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