1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Frederick Henry Royce was an engineer and the Honorable Charles Stewart Rolls was a man with many talents. He was an aviator, driver, and automobile enthusiasts. In the world of business, he excelled at marketing.

The Rolls-Royce Company began its distinguished career in the early 1900's, focusing on quality and performance. During 1905 and 1906, forty vehicles were produced, all with four-cylinder engines producing 20 horsepower.

1906 was a big year for the young company, with Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce officially registering the Rolls-Royce Limited Company. The legendary 40/50 six-cylinder Silver Ghost was introduced with much acclaim. During the same year, Rolls and Royce entered the Tourist Trophy Race, one of the most prestigious events of the time. Their powerful and durable car outran the rest of pack, beating the nearest competitor by 27 minutes. In 1907 the company further showcased their vehicles durability by participating in a 15,000 mile reliability event.

In a time when maintenance and durability were on the minds of every consumer, Rolls-Royce left their buyers with peace of mind. To add even more prestige to their vehicles, the vehicles were marketed to the most elite and well-to-do in society. By supplying their vehicles to British royalty, the Rolls-Royce Company concreted their reputation in history. The cars durability was matched by its comfort; they were outfitted with luxurious bodies by some of the top coachbuilders in the industry. The engines were powerful and provided a rather smooth and comfortable ride. The engines were engineering marvels, constructed of an aluminum alloy crankcase. Instead of chains, the timing and ignition drive were both run by gears. The parts were hand polished and constructed to a high degree of accuracy. The sturdy construction meant that conversation were possible, even while the vehicle was at top speed.

The 40/50 HP Silver Ghost models were sold for a period of fifteen years as the companies only offering. By 1922, the Rolls-Royce Company began offering the Twenty which was offered to a larger market, though still very exclusive. Competition such as Hispano Suiza had caught up with Rolls-Royce by 1925; Rolls-Royce responded. Development began on a more modern version of its Silver Ghost engine that would be more powerful and durable. The stroke was enlarged providing a greater increase in horsepower. The resulting vehicle was named the '40/50 New Phantom'. When the Phantom II was introduced in 1929, the '40/50 New Phantom' was retrospectively named the Phantom I. There were two wheelbases offered on the Phantom I, a 143.5 and a 150.5 inch. Many of the mechanical components stayed the same as the Silver Ghost. The gearbox was the same but the clutch was replaced with a single dry plate unit. This provided a smoother and quieter ride.

During a speed test at Brookland, the Phantom did not live up to expectations. It was unable to achieve a top speed that had been met by a 1911 Silver Ghost. There were many ideas on how to resolve this problem, such as tuning the engine or reducing the overall weight of the vehicle. A lightweight Barker touring body was created and placed on a Phantom chassis. Again, the Phantom failed to achieve the desired speeds during testing.

Ivan Evernden, a Rolls-Royce designer, proposed strict guidelines on a new tourer body. Amazingly, the quality was not sacrificed and the desired reduction was achieved. Tests at Brooklands proved the vehicles capabilities and traveled more than 89 mph.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2009

Vehicle Profiles

Touring Town Car

Frederick Henry Royce made his first car, a 'Royce', in his Manchester factory in 1904. He was introduced to Charles Stewart Rolls at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on May 4th of that year, and the pair agreed to a deal whereby Royce would manufact....[continue reading]

Pall Mall Sport Tourer
Coachwork: Merrimac

Chassis Num: S226PL

Rolls-Royce automobiles are special in their own right - among the finest in the world. This Rolls-Royce is a bit more special as it was owned by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes during his halcyon Hollywood years. ....[continue reading]

Playboy Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Brewster

Chassis Num: S400RK
Engine Num: 28004

C.S. Rolls brought three cars to race at New York's Empire City track in 1906. This was followed by a exhibit at the annual auto show where three cars were sold. In 1913, a New York depot was set-up with coachbuilders Brewster & Co., who bodied the m....[continue reading]

Piccadilly Roadster
Coachwork: Brewster

Chassis Num: S255PL

This car was delivered to its original owner, a Mrs. Montgomery of California, with a Pickwick limousine body. Many years later, it was given this Piccadilly roadster body utilizing a 1924 body originally mounted on chassis number 368XH. ....[continue reading]

Piccadilly Roadster
Coachwork: Merrimac

Chassis Num: S335RL
Engine Num: 22355

This Springfield Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was among the last American Silver Ghost made, and was used as a 'trials' car in preparation for the New Phantom. Modifications to the car were extensive, and included twin taillights with 'reversing' lamps, ....[continue reading]

Sport Tourer
Coachwork: Fleetwood

The Rolls-Royce Silver is legendary in the automotive world. In production for almost 20 years, the Ghost set the standard by which the firm's reputation was built. This sport tourer is the only known Fleetwood bodied Ghost, and is used regularly by ....[continue reading]

Piccadilly Roadster
Coachwork: Merrimac

Chassis Num: S321PL

This is a 1926 American Silver Ghost (S321PL) Rolls -Royce Piccadilly Roadster, built in Springfield, MA It was one of the last Silver Ghost chassis built, as only 1,700 were manufactured in the U.S. between 1921 and 1926. The English Silver Ghosts w....[continue reading]

Playboy Roadster

The chassis for this car was originally completed in August 1926 and fitted originally with a Pickwick saloon before being changed by the Rolls-Royce factory to the Playboy Roadster it is today in 1932.....[continue reading]

Piccadilly Roadster
Coachwork: Brewster

This is one of the last of the left-hand-drive Silver Ghosts that were built at the Rolls-Royce Springfield factory before the introduction of the New Phantom. By 1926, some Silver Ghosts cost an astonishing $16,000. They were offered in a range of s....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Brewster

Chassis Num: S3345RL

#S3345RL is a 1926 Springfield Silver Ghost. It was manufactured in June 1926 a few months before Rolls-Royce of America introduced the new Phantom. The engine, a 1906 'L' head design, has six cylinders, 7.4 liters displacement, twin ignition and dev....[continue reading]

Touring Town Car
Pall Mall Sport Tourer by Merrimac
Chassis #: S226PL 
Playboy Convertible Coupe by Brewster
Chassis #: S400RK 
Piccadilly Roadster by Brewster
Chassis #: S255PL 
Piccadilly Roadster by Merrimac
Chassis #: S335RL 
Sport Tourer by Fleetwood
Piccadilly Roadster by Merrimac
Chassis #: S321PL 
Playboy Roadster
Piccadilly Roadster by Brewster
Stratford by Brewster
Chassis #: S3345RL 


In 1906 a new model, the 40/50 horsepower, was developed with a longer chassis and a six-cylinder engine. The popularity of the new Rolls-Royce grew quickly as it developed a reputation for smoothness, silence, flexibility and, above all, reliability. In 1907 a writer from the 'Autocar' described riding in the Rolls-Royce 40/50 hp as '....the feeling of being wafted through the countryside.' Engineers at Rolls-Royce coined the word 'waftability' to encapsulate that sensation. Today it is a word that cannot be found in any direction but it is a key design and engineering criterion.
The twelfth 40/50 produced had all its fittings silver-plated and the coachwork painted in aluminum paint. This car became known as the Silver Ghost and is probably the most famous car in the world. The name was later adopted for all the 40/50 hp car and had an immediate international impact, enhanced by the coachbuilders of the day, who could produce bodies of breathtaking beauty. The Silver Ghost was, quite simply, in a class of its own.

The motor car's versatility is legendary. It overwhelmingly won every reliability trial and distance record, dominated the great Alpine Trial of 1913 and won the Spanish Grand Prix of that year.

In May 1907, Claude Johnson drove the car to Scotland and back. This run was a precursor to the Scottish Reliability Trial for which the motor car was later awarded a gold model by the RAC.

The original idea was to drive 10,000 miles without stopping the engine, but the Silver Ghost proved so reliable that the target was raised to 15,000 miles. Despite a stall at 629 miles, when rough roads shook the petrol switch to the off position, the Silver Ghost ran faultlessly for 40 days and nights.

A further challenge was designed by Napier for Rolls-Royce to compete against them in a run from London to Edinburgh followed by high-speed runs at Brooklands. But the challenge was to complete the distance without changing gear, as opposed to how far you could travel. The car, driven by Ernest Hives, averaged 24.3 mpg between London and Edinburgh and attained a speed of 78.2 mph at Brooklands.

As an armored car in the First World War The Silver Ghost delivered exemplary service to the extent that Colonel T.E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) is quoted as saying, 'A Rolls in the desert is above rubies'.

In more elegant guise the Silver Ghost was the choice of the rich and famous across the globe. Kings, queens, maharajas, tsars and emperors owned them. The demand for the Silver Ghost was so high that manufacture was started in the United States in 1921 and continued in production with worldwide success until 1925.

Source - Rolls-Rocye Motor Cars Limited

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