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The Quail Auction / 1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster Chassis no. S178ML Engine no. 20785 Body no. M 1388

Lot 41
The ex-Frank Cooke, freshly restored upon its original chassis

1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster
19 August 2022, 11:00 PDT
Carmel, Quail Lodge & Golf Club

US$450,000 - US$600,000

Ask about this lot

1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster
Coachwork by Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work

Chassis no. S178ML
Engine no. 20785
Body no. M 1388

7,431cc L-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Rolls-Royce Carburetor
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes

Original chassis, engine, and coachwork; known history
Recently completed ground-up restoration
Desirable four-speed, side-shift Springfield-made Silver Ghost
Offered from a major American collection


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

American-built "Springfield" Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost chassis number S178ML was mounted with a Piccadilly roadster, body number M 1388, one of about 79 produced for the Silver Ghost by Merrimac under the Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work label. According to the Inskip ownership cards held by the Rolls-Royce Foundation, it was delivered on June 16, 1926, to prominent investment banker and serial Rolls-Royce of America customer, A.H. Beck of Wayland, Massachusetts.

The next known owner recorded on the Inskip records, on June 6, 1931, was Adam E. Fox. The Fox ownership of S178ML was quite eventful; in November 1932, it was stolen in Jamaica, Queens, but was safely retrieved two hours later. On March 3, 1933, Mr. Fox was driving the car on Queens Boulevard when he clipped a 1926 Chrysler, whose driver sued Mr. Fox. Among those called as a witness was a Rolls-Royce employee, Alfred Momo, who would go on to fame as the master mechanic who ran Briggs Cunningham's racing team in its glory days. He testified that there was no damage to Mr. Fox's "Rolls-Royce runabout" following the incident.

The next known owner of record was Arthur L. Schmidt, of New York City, who brought it into Inskip's for service on July 1, 1946. Afterward the roadster appears to have remained in the New York metropolitan area, eventually finding its way to Sam Adelman's famed parts yard in Mount Vernon. Rolls-Royces were the Adelman specialty and his personal favorite marque. One of those he stocked but, fortunately, did not dismantle, was Silver Ghost S178ML. He had a longstanding arrangement with J.S. Inskip in which he would buy the dealership's unwanted parts, and it is likely that S178ML was acquired through that arrangement.

In late 1961, S178ML became the first major Rolls-Royce acquired by the great engineer and Rolls-Royce enthusiast, Frank Cooke, whose Vintage Garage, originally established as his personal shop, later expanded into machine and engine work for others. Even today, to have a Frank Cooke-rebuilt engine in one's Rolls-Royce is a mark of excellence. Mr. Cooke's son, Bill, remembers that when acquired from Adelman's, the rear of the Piccadilly body, behind the golf bag door, had been removed. With typical forethought, however, Sam Adelman had bought the car complete with the rear sheet metal, which remained with the car and had been set back in its place.

Like many enthusiasts of the era, Frank Cooke favored the Phantom I for its four-wheel brakes. Accordingly, he acquired S454FL, a Phantom I chassis, and moved the Piccadilly body to it. After restoration on its new chassis, the car appeared in RROC events for decades and was driven extensively. The original Silver Ghost chassis and drivetrain of the Piccadilly, S178ML, was restored as well, and dubbed "The Lucky Dog," as it had continually evaded destruction.

Both cars remained in the ownership of Frank Cooke until his passing in 2003. Three years later they were sold from the Cooke estate. Rolls-Royce connoisseur William J. "Jim" Stroman of Sterling City, Texas, buyer of the original Silver Ghost, was unfortunately able to own the car for only two years before his own passing. Soon it would find its way into the ownership of noted collector, Henry Petronis, of Easton, Maryland.

The Phantom I with the Ghost's original Piccadilly body, meanwhile, was bought by Bruce Papazian. It was then acquired from Mr. Papazian in October 2014 by the current owner, who had been advised that the body's original intact rolling chassis could be had. Shortly thereafter, in early 2015, the owner purchased the Silver Ghost from Mr. Petronis. Soon began the process of finally reuniting the Piccadilly body with its original chassis, after over half a century apart. The restoration was overseen by Evan Ide at Historical Vehicle Services, using a team of experts including Dennison-Jayne Motors of West Chester, Pennsylvania, for the engine, and completed by RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina for assembly and paint. Exhaustive attention to detail was used to get the car as close to original as possible including carefully rebuilding every mechanical component.
The body was refinished to its elegantly understated original colors, traces of which could be still be found on the coachwork. Accompanying the car is a history file and report compiled for the owner by Sierakowski Classic Car Advisors.

This special Silver Ghost, now returned to its original configuration with original chassis, engine, and body, and as yet unshown, now stands as one of the finest restored examples of the Springfield Rolls-Royce.

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