1925 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost Schapandrier-style Tourer
Coachwork by Williamson & Inchley
Registration no. ES5540
Chassis no. 104 EU
Engine no. L-193
Although the 40/50hp model would have earned its The Best Car in the World soubriquet in any event, Rolls-Royces decision to drop all other types only served to focus attention on what would become known as the Silver Ghost. Prior to 1908, when it relocated to a new factory in Derby, the company founded by engineer Henry Royce and entrepreneur the Honourable Charles Rolls had manufactured a variety of models at its Manchester premises. Cars with two, three, four and six cylinders were made, and even an abortive V8, before Managing Director Claude Johnsons decision to concentrate on the range-topping 40/50hp. The latter had first appeared at the 1906 Motor Show and became known as the Silver Ghost the following year when chassis number 60551 was exhibited wearing silver-painted tourer coachwork by Barker.
The heart of the Silver Ghost was its magnificent engine, a 7,036cc (later 7,428cc) sidevalve six equipped with seven-bearing crankshaft and pressure lubrication. A sturdy chassis comprised of channel-section side members and tubular cross members was suspended on semi-elliptic springs at the front and a platform leaf-spring arrangement at the rear, though the latter soon came in for revision. The transmission too was soon changed, a three-speed gearbox with direct-drive top gear replacing the original four-speed/overdrive top unit in 1909. In the course of its 20-year production life there would be countless other improvements to the car, one of the most important being the adoption of servo-assisted four-wheel brakes towards the end of 1923.
After a successful 2,000-mile trial under RAC supervision, the factory demonstrator - chassis 60551, The Silver Ghost - was entered in the Scottish Reliability Trial, completing the 15,000-mile run with flying colours to set a new world record. From then on the cars reputation was assured, not the least in North America, where the wide-open spaces placed a premium on reliability and comfort.
Dating from the final year of Silver Ghost production, chassis number 104 EU was originally bodied by Hooper & Co as a saloon/limousine and delivered new via Bennetts to first owner W G Player Esq, of Players Cigarettes, Nottingham. Other owners recorded in the accompanying substantial history file include Paddon Brothers (1927) a Mrs Lloyd-Thomas (1938) and precious metal refiners Johnson Matthey, of Londons Hatton Garden (1940). During WW2 the car was converted for use as a breakdown truck and subsequently restored (in the 1960s) by the now-defunct firm of Williamson & Inchley, of Englefield Green, Surrey, who re-bodied it in the style of an Hispano-Suiza Schapandrier four-door open tourer. Acquired by its late owner in 1977, this car has been lovingly and fastidiously maintained, and comes with a complete service record, including invoices, MoT certificates and tax discs, covering the past 28 years. Recent work has included a complete body off electrical re-wire (circa 5-6 years ago) and re-angling of the (previously 90-degree) windscreen (2001). A most reliable vehicle, 104 EU is very well known in Ghost circles, having taken part in numerous national and international events over the years including the Alpine Trial, 20 Ghost Club Tour of Japan, Silver Ghost Association Tours of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and the RRECs Lakes and Scottish Tours. Several times a concours winner, the car has recently been checked over and been given an oil change, and is expected to possess a fresh MoT by time of sale. On the button, it is offered with current road fund licence and Swansea V5 registration document. Eligible for the many Silver Ghost 100th Anniversary celebrations planned for 2006, 104 EU represents a rare opportunity to acquire such a well known and highly thought of example.