1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE

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Lot 10
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer
Coachwork by Bithal & Nago, Hazaribagh Registration no. PP 8000 Chassis no. 50PE

Sold for £ 89,700 (US$ 123,897) inc. premium
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer
Coachwork by Bithal & Nago, Hazaribagh

Registration no. PP 8000
Chassis no. 50PE
*Originally a Watson-bodied limousine
*Shipped to India in 1932
*Re-bodied as an open tourer
*Present ownership since 1988
*Engine rebuilt by A J Glew in 2020

Footnotes

  • "The directors were obviously as impressed with the car as the public were when they first saw it displayed... the company's future, based upon Royce's intuitive design genius and the uncompromising standards of workmanship he set, clearly lay in the rapidly expanding area of luxury cars..." – Edward Eves, Rolls-Royce, 75 Years of Motoring Excellence.

    Although the 40/50hp model would in any event have earned its 'The Best Car in the World' sobriquet (actually first used by the Pall Mall Gazette in November 1911), 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 London 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.

    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, 6,173 being completed at the Manchester and Derby factories, and until 1926 at Rolls-Royce's Springfield plant in the USA where a further 1,703 were made, the longest production run of any model from this celebrated company.

    Copy chassis cards on file show that 'PE50' was on test on 25th September 1920 having been ordered by one T W Hunt for bodying with limousine coachwork by Watson. It is believed that '50PE' spent some time in Canada before being exported in 1932 to India and re-bodied there by the firm of Bithal & Nago of Hazaribagh in the state of Jharkhand. Bithal & Nago (possibly Bethal & Nalgo) were coachbuilders to the Indian nobility, and 'PE50' belonged to a Mr Tootoo, Imam of Hazaribagh. There is a letter on file, written in April 1982 by the renowned Rolls-Royce historian John M Fasal to C Horsley Esq, Chairman of the Arabian Aviation Corporation and the car's then owner, asking for information about the coachbuilder.

    Circa 1980 the Rolls-Royce was brought back to the UK and extensively restored, passing into the present owner's stewardship in 1988, some 2,500 miles post-restoration. Since acquisition the Ghost has been serviced and maintained by various marque specialists including West Hoathly Garage and A J Glew, the most recent work being the latter's rebuild of the engine, which was carried out in 2020 (detailed bills on file). Presented in good order throughout, '50PE' represents the ultimate in Vintage-era motoring.
Contacts
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Tourer  Chassis no. 50PE
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