1926 Rolls-Royce Springfield Silver Ghost Tilbury Sedan
Coachwork by Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Works
Chassis no. S360RL
Engine no. 22605
When World War I ended, there was great pent-up demand for new cars, and the Rolls-Royce factory could not keep up with demand for the first couple of years after the Armistice. The Managing Director of Rolls-Royce, Claude Goodman Johnson, had visited the USA as part of R-Rs war effort, and he was most impressed with what he saw. The USA auto market was much larger than the rest of the world combined, and it was not a market that Rolls-Royce was penetrating very effectively. Johnson knew just how to attack the US market Rolls-Royce needed a factory in the USA. After the war, he set about establishing a manufacturing operation on Yankee soil, having looked at a plant site in New Jersey but finally choosing Springfield, Massachusetts, because there was suitable real estate available, a large pool of skilled workers and a history of good labor relations. A factory property was acquired in 1920 and work began. Fifty-one foreman sailed over from Britain and set about hiring the rest of the staff locally. Production began in 1921 and a few cars were produced that year.
The first 100 cars were almost identical to British models. But soon Springfield realized that changes would be required, for some of the British components could not be easily serviced in America so US components were substituted. Gradually the cars became quite different from their British brethren. The biggest change came in 1925 when right-drive steering and four-speed gearboxes gave way to left-drive and three-speed transmissions. The Silver Ghost remained in production at Springfield until 1926, and the car offered here is one of the very last of the Springfield Ghosts and includes all the improvements made for the American market.
This car is fitted with a Tilbury sedan body, which was what the British would have called a sports sedan since it had no division and was designed to be driven by the owner. This particular car was first sent to Portland (presumably Portland, Oregon) as a trials car (what we would now call a demonstrator). It was sold to Adolf W. Gilbert of San Marino, California, and delivered on April 23, 1928. The ownership for the next 28 years is unknown until it appears in 1956 owned by Ed Kachelhoffer of St Louis. The next known owner was B E. Stewart of Gahanna, Ohio, in 1971, and by 1983 it was owned by Louis Schultz of Sandusky, Ohio. In 1989 it was acquired by noted Rolls-Royce enthusiast Joe Loecy who planned a full restoration; however, Joe passed away before the restoration commenced, and the car passed to his son Roger.
Roger sold the car to consignor, who is a well-known Rolls-Royce enthusiast who has overseen the successful restoration of a number of his own Ghosts and Phantoms. The car was in need of a full restoration having extensive rotten wood in the upper body. The owner was inspired by a color illustration of a Tilbury in a R-R sales brochure. It was red with black fenders, wheels and trim, with pinstriping on the hood and body sides. That color scheme was selected for the restoration and is what you see on the car today, so there is no question about the authenticity of the treatment. The needed full restoration was performed and completed in 2005. The car was used for the Wholly Ghost tour in Tennessee and North Carolina in May 2006 and performed flawlessly, carrying the family of five in comfort for 1,400 miles in spite of foul weather along the route. Since then it has been used for a few hundred miles more, completing a total of about 1,800 miles on the newly rebuilt engine which is now nicely broken in and ready for whatever service the new owner anticipates.
This closed car is one of the prettiest Ghost sedans ever built. The Tilbury-bodied Ghosts seldom appear for sale as they offer a near ideal combination of style and all-weather comfort.