1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Roi-de-Belges Tourer Coachwork by in the style of Barker Registration no. R 1464 Chassis no. 1995E Engine no. 1637
Launched at Olympia in 1906, Henry Royces masterpiece, the new six-cylinder, 40/50hp Rolls-Royce, was in a class of its own and Royces engineering genius combined with the selling charms of the Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls and the business flair of Claude Johnson ensured that the world soon recognised the new model as The Best Car in the World. The history of the 40/50hp car, soon to be colloquially referred to as The Silver Ghost, is well chronicled, production continuing in the U.K. until 1925 and, remarkably, no fewer than 6,173 chassis were built in the U.K. with a further 1,703 erected at the Springfield Factory in the U.S.A.
Chassis no. 1995E was ordered on 4th May 1912 by Walter Raphael of Ryder Street, London, S.W. who paid his deposit of £454 three days later. Distinguished coachbuilders Barker & Co. of South Audley St., coachbuilders to H.M. the King and from the earliest days favoured coachbuilders of Rolls-Royce, were commissioned to build the coachwork originally a Limousine-Landaulet to their design Whitmore. On 8th October the balance of £952 was invoiced and 1995E, resplendent in its dark blue livery, was finally driven to Conduit Street for delivery to Raphael on 29th October. John Fasal and Bryan Goodmans standard work, The Edwardian Rolls-Royce, records Mrs Mavor and the Red Cross as subsequent owners, the car presumably being drafted in for wartime duties. The same worthy tome records the ownership of Philip Runciman of London in 1918, while Rolls-Royce records show subsequent ownership by Mrs. Burness of Haling House, Denham, and later by her husband in the 1920s. In 1929 it was owned by V.Abley of Brixton, and thereafter the history goes quiet for a good few years.
John Paterson of Great Missenden, Bucks, was a Veteran Car Club member of long standing, owning amongst other interesting vehicles a veteran Winton and a Locomobile Steamer. His interests also embraced the early products of Sir Henry Royce. He certainly owned at one stage a 1911 Silver Ghost, chassis no. 1637, described in a V.C.C. Gazette advertisement in 1956 as having had some modifications, and rumour has it that he was steered by V.C.C. stalwart Derek Grossmark in the direction of another more or less complete chassis lying in a hedge bottom this was acquired, we believe, to assist with the restoration of 1637. This chassis turned out to be 1995E.
Following John Patersons death, Bonhams were called to Great Missenden in 2000 to deal with the sale of the Winton and the Locomobile. An almost throw-away remark from executors about bits of a derelict Rolls-Royce in one of the estate buildings led us to open a long-since defunct chicken shed in which lay 1995E, an almost complete chassis which Paterson had started to restore in the late 1950s/early 1960s, before the distractions of a young family had diverted his attention to other priorities. Documentation on file at first suggested that this was chassis no. 1637 Patersons other car but further research clearly identified this car as 1995E, presumably the car from the hedge bottom. At some stage the engine had been swapped and the original engine from 1995E survives in chassis no. 1678 in Northern Ireland. 1995E, in derelict form and without coachwork, but otherwise remarkably complete, duly changed hands at Bonhams & Brooks Beaulieu sale in September 2000.
A painstaking restoration was embarked upon, the discerning new owner, whose motor house already embraced other Rolls-Royce models, electing to furnish the car with the ever popular Roi-de-Belges coachwork, in the style of Barker. The work was entrusted to renowned Silver Ghost specialist Jonathan Harley of Stratford-upon-Avon. Missing parts of the correct era were carefully sourced or, where not available, fabricated and additional work was entrusted to A.S. Delbarre of Wisbech, amongst other specialist craftsmen. Photographs on file record various stages of the detailed restoration from 2001-2005. Today 1995E is testimony to the survival of British craftsmanship to the standards of our Edwardian forebears, the car now resplendent in its aristocratic blue livery with red coachlining and furnished in deep-buttoned red leather upholstery, carefully selected from the finest hides. Correctly equipped in all respects with C.A. Vandervell electric lighting and switch panel, klaxon horn and most practical Rudge-Whitworth detachable wire wheels, 1995E also enjoys the benefit of an electric starter.
The whispering six-cylinder engine is barely run in following restoration and now promises the new owner the inherent reliability that the master, Sir Henry Royce, designed into his Silver Ghost. What better way to tackle the re-enactment of the famous Alpine Trial of 1913, which will no doubt take place in its fast-approaching Centenary Year.
1995E, surely the head-turner in any Rolls-Royce line-up, is offered with a Swansea registration document, and long MOT certificate and copies of detailed Factory Order and Build Sheets