1949 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
This 1949 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Drophead Coupe with coachwork by Gurney Nutting was offered for sale at the 2007 Christies auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.' It is finished in dark blue with beige leather interior and beige soft top. Power is from the six-cylinder engine with overhead inlet valves and maximum horsepower of about 126. There is a four-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on the top three ratios and four-wheel hydromechanical drums with mechanical servo.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn automobiles were built using a standardized pressed steel body on a very large and well engineering chassis with front independent suspension. In keeping with tradition, Rolls-Royce created a model available in just chassis form allowing the custom coachbuilders to create unique creations to specific customer specifications. These were called the Silver Wraith. Coachbuilders such as H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward, Hooper, Webb, and Freestone, among others, were given the opportunity to create versions of the Silver Wraith. Gurney Nutting was well known for their formal models, dropheads and saloons. Their first vehicle they created for Rolls-Royce was a Sedanca in 1924. Production of the Silver Wraith would continue for twelve years ending in 1959, with a total of 1700 examples being produced during that time. Only a few of those were created by Gurney Nutting.
This example is very elegant, with a drop-top that folds into a recess behind the rear seat. The windows and top are hydraulically operated, which was a unique feature during this era. The interior features picnic tables in the front seat backs and a Becker period radio.
The vehicle's early life was spent in Great Britain. It later came to the US where it has spent the remainder of its time. It has been treated to a cosmetic restoration since 2002 including a bare metal respray, new top, new interior, wood stripped and refinished, chrome replated and the engine bay cleaned up.
At auction this car was estimated to sell for $80,000 - $100,000. Sadly, a buyer willing to meet the vehicles reserve was not found and the car left the auction unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
Sold for $46,200 at 2012 Gooding and Company - The Scottsdale Auction.
The Silver Wraith, the first post-war Rolls Royce, marked the end of the coachbuilt era. The Silver Wraith was to be the last Rolls-Royce to be delivered on a chassis-only basis. Thus, many of the cars featured formal coachwork from traditional English coachbuilders.
This car, chassis number WDC 89, was delivered to H.J. Mulliner & Co. Ltd on January 12th of 1949. When it left their factory it had been clothed with Sedanca de Ville coachwork. It had two sideways-facing occasional seats, folding tables, a rear radio and other luxurious feathers. It was finished in black with tan Connolly leather and featured walnut woodwork.
Delivered through A. Owen Ltd. in late August 1949, L. Harris Esq. received his new car and servicing was recorded well into 1953. The car was sold in 1958 and quickly resold that year to Anthony M. Sandle.
In 1954, the car was purchased by London law firm Messrs. Evill & Coleman Ltd. In 1965, it was purchased by automobile dealer Bob Cochran of Eugene, Oregon while he was visiting England. The car arrived in the United States in 1966 and eventually sold to Larry Campbell in 1969. The car was traded to his business partner Dan Leahy in 1973 in exchange for ownership of their real estate company. The car was left in Leahy's garage until July 2011 when it was purchased by the current owner.
In 2012, this car was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona. It had a pre-auction estimated value of $45,000 - $60,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $46,200 inclusive of buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2012
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 with hydraulic brakes.
The Silver Wraith was constantly refined during its production. The engine was replaced with 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 with 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 SSources:
By Jessica Donaldson