Formerly the property of Sir Frederick Handley Page 1939 Rolls-Royce Wraith Saloon Coachwork by Park Ward & Co Ltd Registration no. LMF 757 Chassis no. WEC81 Engine no. D8WZ
Development of the pre-war small Rolls-Royce, which had begun in 1922 with the introduction of the 20hp, culminated in 1938 with the arrival of the Wraith. Replacement for the 25/30hp model, the Wraith retained its predecessors engine dimensions for a capacity of 4,257cc, but almost every other aspect of its overhead-valve, six-cylinder engine was new, the most obvious difference being the adoption of a superior, cross-flow cylinder head, first seen on the 4¼-Litre Bentley, which placed the inlet and exhaust ports on opposite sides.
This extensively revised power unit was mounted in an equally new chassis. Like that of its larger sibling, the Phantom III, the Wraiths frame featured cruciform bracing and independent front suspension based on a General Motors design. It need hardly be stated that the Wraith improved on its predecessors already high standards of silence and smoothness, though the benefits of the new engines extra horsepower were largely offset by heavier coachwork. Sadly, production was curtailed by the outbreak of WW2 after just 491 cars had been built.
The last of its particular batch completed, this example of the rarest of 1930s Rolls-Royces is clothed in Park Wards standardised saloon coachwork complete with division and sunroof. Chassis number WEC81s accompanying copy order form records that it was ordered on 15th August 1939, shortly before the declaration of war, but not sold until 20th March 1941, the purchaser being Frederick (later Sir Frederick) Handley Page, founder of the eponymous aircraft manufacturing company best remembered for its Halifax four-engined bomber.
Interesting entries under Accessories, Spares & Equipment record the application of camouflage to paintwork and supplying and fitting headlamp mask x4 to comply with blackout regulations. Sir Fredericks is the only name recorded on the chassis card but it is not known how long he kept the car, which retains its original registration mark LMF 757 and is offered with old-type Swansea V5 and old-style buff logbook. Issued in 1947, the latter records Sir Frederick Handley Page as owner at that time and three further owners, the last two in Northern Ireland. Purchased from Bonhams Harrogate auction 2009 with the intention of installing the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (lot 121a). It has subseqently been decided not to complete the project. The body was removed now refitted for chassis inspection. It should be noted that the front wings, although detached, are with the car, which is offered for restoration and sold strictly as viewed. No reserve