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1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost

1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost In 1906, Rolls-Royce built four chassis to be shown at the Olympia Motor Show in London, including two examples of a new car initially designated the 40/50 HP. The car that gave the model its now much more well-known name was AX201 (with chassis 6BD), which was the twelfth 40/50 hp built. It was painted in aluminum paint with silver-plated fittings and was nicknamed the 'Silver Ghost' to emphasize its ghost-like quietness. This Silver Ghost was privately entered in the prestigious 1912 Austrian Alpine Trial by its first owner, James Radley. Rolls-Royce prepared a factory team of four cars for the 1913 event, and the team gained six awards, including the Archduke Leopold Cup. Replicas of the victorious cars were put into production and sold officially as Continental models, but they were called Alpine Eagles by chief test driver Ernest Hives, and this is the name that they have kept ever since.
1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost High bid of $500,000 at 2009 Sports & Classics of Monterey. (did not sell)
Sold for $368,500 at 2010 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Amelia Island.
Sold for $660,000 at 2013 RM Auctions - Monterey.
The name 'Silver Ghost' was used for the entire 19-year model run of what was officially called the 40/50, from its horsepower rating. Production began in 1907.

A silver Barker-bodied tourer was built for Managing Director Claude Johnson, and it was christened the 'Silver Ghost.' It took part in the 2000-mile Scottish Reliability Trial, where it won a gold medal. The car was then subjected to further endurance testing, covering 15,000 miles in repeated London-Glasgow journeys. At the conclusion of the test, the car was disassembled and examined for wear. All of the parts were found to be within tolerances. In modern times, the car still exists, and has covered nearly 600,000 miles. It is currently in restored condition.

The London-Edinburgh model was the result of a 1911 challenge by Napier. Selwyn Francis Edge, Napier's distributor, entered a 65-horespower car in an RAC-observed run from London to Edinburgh, driven entirely in high gear. Rolls-Royce responded, using a nearly standard Silver Ghost wearing a lightweight touring body. The car was stock except for a higher compression and a larger carburetor.

The Rolls-Royce outperformed the Napier on fuel consumption, and in a timed run at the Brooklands track. The Rolls-Royce achieved 78.26 mph while the Napier reached 76.52 miles per hour. The same chassis, with a single-seat body and a high ratio axle, was driven to 101.8mph in the flying mile at Brooklands a year later.

In 1919, the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost were given electric lights and self-starter. In 1923, it was given four-wheel brakes. Production of the Silver Ghost continued until 1925.

This vehicle, chassis number 23ED, was ordered by the British Admiralty on February 21, 1915 and delivered on April 28. The car was eventually shipped to the United States and was discovered by an Ohio collector in the 1970s. It has remained in the same family ever since.

In preparation for a restoration, a London-Edinburgh tourer body was supplied by British coachbuilders Crailville, Ltd., of Southall, Middlesex. The company specializes in construction of period-correct bodies for classic cars.

In the mid-2000s, the restoration work began. It was given a complete mechanical rebuild, including the engine, transmission, axle and chassis. It was given a new stainless steel exhaust system and an electronic overdrive. The close-coupled London-Edinburgh body was fitted and finished in archetypal silver with a leather interior.

Accessories include an Elliott speedometer, mirrors and electric side- and headlamps.

In 2009, this Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was offered for sale at the Sports & Classics of Monterey auction in Monterey, California presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $700,000-$900,000. The lot failed to sell after achieving a high bid of $500,000.

In 2010, this car returned to auction, again at an RM Auction sale, this time at their 'Automobiles of Amelia Island' event. The car was estimated to sell for $400,000 - $500,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $368,500, inclusive of buyer's premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010
1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost October 9, 1915, is the documented test date for 24 CB, making it one of the later 40/50 HP Rolls-Royce's produced before the Great War and constructed with all the improvements introduced since production began in 1907. The most notable feature, yet the least visible, is its very rare and highly desirable Colonial Alpine Cagle Chassis complete with a four-speed gearbox, 7428cc inline 6-cylinder engine, producing 50 horsepower at 1,500 RPM. There is a 4-speed manual gearbox and larger 2-wheel mechanical drum brakes. This example rides on a 146.5-inch wheelbase frame with semi-elliptic springs suspending the front axle and cantilever springs suspending the rear axle.

This is one of very few Silver Ghosts to survive with its original coachwork. Built for a Royal navy Commander by Maythorn, the curved rear panels were formed over an ash frame. With its bare alloy bonnet, it is typical of more sporting models built on the London to Edinburgh chassis. This car saw service as a reconnaissance vehicle in France during World War I and spent years in Kenya.

The car features the very rare Alpine Eagle chassis with a four-speed transmission, larger brakes and tuned engine to offer an unparalleled touring experience. It has been fitted with custom Maythorn & Son Torpedo Tourer coachwork with a bare alloy bonnet and curvaceous lines for a decidedly sporting appearance.

The Silver Ghost was powered by a 453 cubic-inch L-head six-cylinder engine offering 50 horsepower. It has a live-axle suspension with semi-elliptical front springs and cantilever rear springs.

The Silver Ghost was restored in the United Kingdom in 1993, prior to being sold to the current owner in 2003.

1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Sold for $1,100,000 at 2007 Gooding & Company.
High bid of €440,000 at 2011 RM Auctions - Villa d'Este. (did not sell)
Sold for $561,000 at 2012 RM Auctions - Monterey.
Sold for $506,000 at 2015 RM Sotheby's : Monterey.
This 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 hp Silver Ghost with a Limousine body is one of only about five Rolls-Royce chassis with coachwork by Hamshaw. Hamshaw Ltd. of England was an established builder of prestigious carriages. With the introduction of the automobile, Hamshaw's talents were applied to this new form of transportation. Not only did they produce coachwork, they eventually became a dealer and seller of motorcars, and would go on to represent four brands - Wolseley, Vauxhall, Humber and Sunbeam. These automakers would receive most of Hamshaw's coachwork.

This car was originally bodied for Captain H. Whitworth of Beverley, Yorkshire, but was picked up in 1916 by Schuette, the New York Rolls-Royce distributor. The car was sent to Mrs. Alfred I. duPont of Wilmington, Delaware.

The story surrounding this car's early life includes Alfred I. duPont, one of the three duPont individuals who controlled the duPont powder company. The company was supplying gunpowder to the British in support of their war effort. Alfred requested a special Rolls-Royce limousine for his wife, Alicia. The request was made directly through King George V. Since the Rolls-Royce factory was fully engrossed in war duties, a creative solution was needed to fulfill the request. This car, though created for another individual, was a suitable Silver Ghost for Mrs. duPont.

The history of the car is unclear from this point to the mid-1950s. In 1956 it was purchased by A. Atwater Kent, Jr., and was added to his growing collection of classic cars. In 1980 it was purchased by an English collector who kept it for a short period of time before selling it to another British collector in 1983.

Terry Cohn was the next owner, taking possession of the car in 1990. Richard Solove purchased it next.

This car was one of the last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts created before World War I. It is luxuriously appointed with a wicker trunk, ivory door pulls, C.A.V. lighting, driver's intercom, 'triple Elliott' speedometer, inlaid wood folding table, sliding driver window, silk window pulls, rear compartment trim, jump seats, and rear-compartment door pockets.

Since new, the car has been treated to an extensive restoration. In 2007 it was brought to the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, Ca where it was estimated to sell for $700,000 - $900,000. It was offered without reserve. As bidding concluded, the lot had been sold for $1,100,000 including buyers premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008
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.

1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver GhostIn 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 Únited States in 1921 and continued in production with worldwide success until 1925.

Source - Rolls-Rocye Motor Cars Limited
The Rolls-Royce vehicles have always been the pinnacle of design, technology, and ambiance. The loudest noise that could be heard by occupants of their vehicles was said to be the clock. In 1904 engineer Frederick Henry Royce joined with the entrepreneur and businessman, the Honorable Charles Stewart Rolls. This union became known as the Rolls-Royce Company.

The Silver Ghost became available in 1906 and brought with it quality and technology to a level that had never been seen before on a motor vehicle. Most engines of the time had long and flexible crankshafts that were prone to vibration and noise. The Rolls-Royce engines had large bearings and pressurized oiling systems, secured by seven main bearings. This was then enclosed in a strong aluminum alloy crankcase eliminating much noise and creating a pleasurable driving experience for the occupants of the vehicle. The crankshaft had an accuracy of .00025 on its bearing surface. They were hand polished to remove any surface cracks left by the grinder. Instead of using noisy chains to drive the ignition, Royce used gears. Phosphor bronze and nickel steel were used in the construction of the timing gears which were then ground and polished by hand. The engine was further shortened by casting in triplets. Cooling problems and leaks were eliminated by the removable cylinder blocks and fixed heads. A Royce designed twin jet carburetor gave the engine all the breathing it required.

The Rolls Royce vehicles could accelerate from zero to top speed without shifting. Shifting during the early 1900's was a chore, with the lower gears never being smooth. It was not until top gear was achieved that the automobiles would operate properly. The Rolls-Royce Ghosts would accelerate as though they were being pulled. This feature, coupled with the vehicle's silent operation amplified the vehicle's prestige and was the ultimate driving experience of its day.

When first introduced, the Ghosts were given a four-speed gearbox with a direct drive third and an overdrive fourth. As time passed, the overdrive was dropped. The chassis was mostly conventional. Royce had fine-tuned the chassis to standards much higher than most marque's of the day. The body was held in place by a live rear axle carried in three-quarter elliptical springs. In the front, there was a solid axle supported by semi-elliptic leaf springs. Braking was by a foot pedal connected to a transmission brake. A hand brake operated twin rear drums.

Where Royce excelled in engineering, Rolls excelled in promoting and marketing. In 1906 a Ghost was entered in the Tourist Trophy Race, one of the most prestigious races of the time. The Ghost emerged victorious - well, much more than that. It had beaten the next nearest competitor by 27 minutes. Next, Rolls and Royce entered a Ghost in a 15,000-mile reliability run in 1907 which it did without incident. Upon its return to the Rolls-Royce shop, it took a small amount of money, about two-pounds or roughly ten-dollars by today's exchange rates, to restore the vehicle back to new condition.

The Silver Ghosts were entered in the Austrian Alpine Trials where the hoods were sealed shut to prevent any maintenance. The Silver Ghosts again dominated the competition and traversed the Alpine passes which were impassable for many motor cars.

This marketing worked and soon the Rolls-Royce vehicles became legendary and renowned for their durability, reliability, and style. To improve upon the prestige even further, Rolls supplied the Silver Ghosts to British royalty, a move that made sure the vehicles were seen in the right places by the right people.

The first Rolls-Royce distributor in the United States was Walter Martin of New York City, who was also a Cadillac distributor. As Cadillac continued to improve the ambiance of their vehicles, Martin naturally gave them more attention as the logistics of company location was in their favor. Rolls-Royce, on the other hand, was an ocean apart.

Over the early years of Rolls-Royce production, Brewster would become more effective in bringing Rolls-Royce chassis to America than Martin. Brewster imported several dozen chassis to supply its coachwork clients.

In 1913, the business manager for Rolls-Royce, Claude Johnson, formed a factory depot in New York and rented space from Brewster. Baker's US agent, Robert W. Schuette was appointed as Rolls-Royce distributor. At the time, Schuette also represented Fleetwood, Holbrook, Brewster, and Quinby. Around 100 Rolls-Royce's were imported over the next two years by Schuette, with around half of them bodied by Brewster.

As the First World War began to escalate, the production of Rolls-Royce automobiles slowed considerably. The factory's attention was turned to cars for military clients. Engines were produced for aircraft. By 1916, there were no more new Rolls-Royces available. Schuette and Brewster were still able to satisfy US demand for Rolls-Royce's by buying up existing chassis, renovating, and then fitting them with new coachwork.


By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008

Concepts by Rolls-Royce



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Rolls-Royce
1920Ford (806,040)Chevrolet (146,243)Dodge (141,000)
1919Ford (820,445)Chevrolet (129,118)Buick (119,310)
1918Ford (435,898)Buick (126,222)Willys Knight (88,753)
1917Ford (622,351)Willys Knight (130,988)Buick (115,267)
1916Ford (734,811)Willys Knight (140,111)Buick (124,834)
1915Ford (501,492)Willys Knight (91,904)Dodge (45,000)
1914Ford (308,162)Overland (48,461)Studebaker (35,374)
1913Ford (168,220)Overland (37,422)Studebaker (31,994)
1912Ford (78,440)Overland (28,572)Buick (19,812)
1911Ford (69,762)Overland (18,745)Maxwell (16,000)
1910Ford (32,053)Buick (30,525)Overland (15,598)

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