Total Production: 491 1938 - 1939
The Wraith was an entirely new model, which brought the design of the 'baby' Rolls-Royce models into line with the sophistication of its larger counterpart, the Phantom III.
The Wraith had a brand new welded chassis, a new light-alloy six-cylinder engine of 4,257 cc and far greater performance than what had gone before. The motor car had been described as a scaled-down Phantom III and is regarded by many as the most enjoyable Rolls-Royce of all.
Certainly it is an extremely refined car and contemporary press report spoke glowingly of its extreme silence. 'The Autocar' described it in these terms: 'it seems of little consequence what the precise maximum speed figure is when such astonishingly easy and completely effortless running is available at, say, 75 mph. Speedometer readings between 80 and 84 were reached on two or three occasions, and considerably more was shown once on a definitely favorable stretch of road.'
Rolls-Royce were able to produce the Wraith for a chassis price of just 1,100 pounds the same as that of the Twenty sixteen years before. Some beautifully proportioned bodies were produced for this model, including a Park Ward touring body for a cost of 1,695 European pounds. Unfortunately the outbreak of The Second World War meant that the car production at Rolls-Royce shut down as it switched to the manufacture of the Merlin aero engine. Today, one Wraith sits in The Royal Mews, proudly owned by Her Majesty The Queen.Source - Rolls Royce Motor Cars Ltd.
The history of Rolls-Royce in America dates back to 1906 when C.S. Rolls brought three cars to race at New York's Empire City track. Later, their vehicles were on display at the annual show where three were sold to customers.
By the early 1910s, Rolls-Royce had established a relationship with Brewster & Company to body the majority of chassis imported to the US. In 1919, Rolls purchased a factory in Springfield, Massachusetts with the purpose of producing the entire product in the US. One of the benefits was they were able to bypass import and export fees. The factory produced the Silver Ghost model with Brewster and a number of other prominent coachbuilders of the time, tasked with creating many of the bodies. In 1927, the Ghost was succeeded by the Phantom I.
During the Great Depression, sales slowed and soon England was supplying the US with left-hand drive Phantom II chassis, again, with Brewster handling much of the coachwork. Between 1931 and 1934, a mere 116 examples of the Phantom II were sold to the United States. With sales so low and the Great Depression in full swing, the Springfield location was shut down. John S. Inskip, who was the Rolls-Royce American president, continued to operate the Brewster coachworks.
In 1938, the successor to the 25/30 'small Rolls' was introduced, the Rolls-Royce Wraith. It had an independent front suspension based on a General Motors design and powered by the 4257cc overhead valve six-cylinder engine of the 25/30. It was updated with a new crossflow head.
Rolls had stopped producing left-hand drive chassis, but a few right-hand examples were imported to the US by Inskip who bodied them in his shops.
A total of 491 Wraith's were produced by Rolls Royce before war in Europe shut down automobile production. Only a small portion of those made it to the United States.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008