1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost,
Lot 651
1921 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost Saloon Chassis no. 89AG Engine no. 0106
Sold for £63,100 (US$ 105,950) inc. premium
Lot Details
1921 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost Saloon
Coachwork by Mann Egerton

Registration no. XL 1082 (see text)
Chassis no. 89AG
Engine no. 0106


  • The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls, gentleman adventurer, aviator, racing driver and astute businessman, and Frederick Henry Royce, engineer and innovator were indeed a formidable partnership, creating a motoring legend with a reputation for unsurpassed excellence. It says much for the business acumen of Rolls that, despite his inborn desire for things to happen quickly, he tolerated the pedantic and at times frustratingly slow attention to detail of his mechanical-genius partner. From this painstaking approach, the legendary Rolls-Royce 40/50hp, the ‘Silver Ghost’, was to emerge.
    Although the 40/50hp model would have earned its ‘The Best Car in the World’ sobriquet in any event, Rolls-Royce’s 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 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 Johnson’s 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 & Co.
    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. Royce’s uncompromising engineering standards demanded only excellence of his staff in Manchester and later Derby, and no chassis was delivered until it had been rigorously tested.
    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 car’s reputation was assured, not the least in North America where the wide-open spaces placed a premium on reliability and comfort. The Silver Ghost remained in production in England until 1925 and at Rolls-Royce’s Springfield plant in the USA until 1926, the longest production run of any model from that celebrated company.
    This Silver Ghost’s accompanying copy order form records that it was sold to Mann Egerton and delivered to the Norwich-based coachbuilder on 9th September 1921. Only two owners, both London-based, are recorded on the copy chassis card: Victor Sheridan, of Shaftesbury Avenue, W1 and James Davis, of Lewisham. There are no registration documents with this Lot.