1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL
Lot 556
1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER
Sold for £247,900 (US$ 331,486) inc. premium

Lot Details
1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL 1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER  Chassis no. S295PL
1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP SILVER GHOST 'PICCADILLY' ROADSTER
Registration no. BF7023
Chassis no. S295PL
*Built by Rolls-Royce of America Incorporated
*Left-hand drive
*Re-bodied in 1932
*Formerly owned by Josef von Sternberg
*An older restoration

Footnotes

  • 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 founded by engineer Frederick Henry Royce and entrepreneur the Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls 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.

    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.

    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. 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. 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. Cars were right-hand drive up to 1925 and left-hand drive thereafter.

    Unlike its British-built counterpart, the American product could be ordered with 'factory' bodywork, usually by Brewster, which would be taken over by Rolls-Royce in December 1925. Before Brewster's acquisition, bodies supplied under the 'Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Works' programme were built by various independent coachbuilders, while from 1923 some bodies were built in the company's own coachbuilding facility in the old Knox Automobile Co factory; the latter, though, was mainly employed in finishing bodies built by outside contractors to Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Works' designs.

    Like their British counterparts, the majority of US-made Silver Ghosts carried closed formal coachwork, making this example, with its lightweight sporting 'Piccadilly Roadster' body, rare indeed. Some 115 Piccadilly Roadsters were built on the Springfield Silver Ghost chassis, plus a further 45 on the successor New Phantom frame, this example being by the Massachusetts coachbuilder, Merrimac Body Co.

    The Piccadilly was a popular choice among Rolls-Royce dealers and private owners wishing to spruce up a tired, and difficult to sell, Silver Ghost saloon or limousine, and the example offered here originally carried a Stratford Convertible Coupé body by Brewster. The car's first known owner was the Hollywood movie director, Josef von Sternberg, who acquired it on 5th May 1929. Its original owner is not known. Born in Austria, von Sternberg had emigrated to the USA in 1908 at the age of 14 and got his first Hollywood directing job around 1925. He is best remembered for discovering the legendary German actress Marlene Dietrich, then an unknown revue artist, whom he brought to the USA in 1930.

    Following von Sternberg's ownership, the Silver Ghost was purchased by a Los Angeles motor dealer in 1932 and fitted with its Piccadilly Roadster body. Its next owner was another prominent Hollywood figure, screenwriter Oliver H P Garrett, who shared a 'Best Screenplay' Oscar with Joseph L Mankiewicz for 'Manhattan Melodrama' (1934). Garrett took delivery at his place of work, Paramount Pictures, where the Stylish Roadster would certainly have turned a few heads.

    In the late 1960s, the Silver Ghost was sold by Benjamin H Duggin of Conroe, Texas, to prominent collector, Robert Atwell of Kerrville, Texas, an aficionado of Rolls-Royces with rare and unique coachwork. Robert Atwell also owned another ex-Duggin Rolls-Royce: the 'Pall Mall' tourer that famously once belonged to the wife of newspaper tycoon, Howard Hughes. New York's Reuter Coach Works, the USA's foremost restoration specialists of the era, then restored the 'Ghost, applying their signature Reuter Red finish that is still present today.

    Mr Atwell kept the Piccadilly Roadster for several years before donating it in 1979 to the San Antonio Museum of Transportation where it was displayed until 1994. The car then changed hands, passing to an enthusiast in Pennsylvania, while more recently it was owned by Brussels-based collector, Andre Plasch. During Mr Plasch's ownership, the Rolls-Royce was despatched to Wildae Restorations of Braunton, North Devon for an extensive mechanical overhaul (see receipts totalling almost £100,000 on file). The car has attended numerous events since then and been driven to many, one such trip being from Belgium to London.

    Several decades after restoration, this Piccadilly Roadster has a delightfully mellowed patina, while the later Springfield Ghost's left-hand drive and central gear change make it ideal for use in the USA or in Continental Europe. Possessing an ownership history stretching back to its earliest days, and associations with two major Hollywood celebrities and several prominent collectors, this rare sporting Silver Ghost would enhance any prestigious private collection. Offered with a UK V5C registration document.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the history file and the V5C document for this car will follow post sale.
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