1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
Make : Rolls-Royce
Model : Silver Ghost
Body Type : Balloon Car Roadster
Colour : Cream
Trim : Dark Green Leather
History : From late 1906 onwards Rolls-Royce Ltd began production of their 40/50hp which later became known as the Silver Ghost. The London Motor Show at Olympia in November of 1906 heralded its introduction to the motoring world and by the spring of 1907 the first batch of deliveries were met. The leading coach makers of the time were familiar with being provided with the under carriage from the manufacturers and constructing a body to suit their customers’ requests. Rolls-Royce continued with this tried and tested method, providing chassis and engine to the coachbuilder of the customer’s choice who constructed the bodywork, painted, trimmed and furnished the car to order. Almost overnight long established coach makers who had been in business for generations had to adapt their way of thinking away from horse drawn carriage to the new horseless vehicle. The Silver Ghost became an almost instant success thanks to the soundness of its design and the pain staking lengths the Rolls-Royce engineers and workmen went to during construction. The term “The Best Car in the World” was deservedly earnt and it is fair to say that the Ghost’s efficiency, reliability and superb performance were unmatched at the time and its reputation laid the foundations for the continued success of the company. Charles Rolls was of course a motoring pioneer by profession, but it could be argued that his true passion lay in aviation. He was a great friend of Wright Brothers and entertained them during their visit to Britain in 1909, making the first fixed wing return flight over the English Channel in one of the Wright’s planes in 1910. Prior to this Rolls took great pleasure in balloon racing, taking part initially in a race in 1906 in Massachusetts and completing in excess of 100 balloon flights in the following four years. For his balloon expeditions, Rolls had a Silver Ghost roadster created by H.J. Mulliner, capable of carrying the basket of his balloon. The long platform behind the seats left ample room for the car to be loaded at the conclusion of a flight. Unfortunately, Rolls’ passion for flying took his life, when his plane crashed at an exhibition over Bournemouth later that year. A limited number of replicas of the original balloon car Rolls had built have been constructed over the years, to varying degrees of accuracy. This particular car, Chassis No 1009 is one of the best we have seen. It originally left the factory in Derby in late June of 1909 and was supplied by Laurie and Marne of Oxford Street in London to its first owner, Mrs W K D’Arcy who lived in Norfolk in England. Records are inconclusive as to the original style of coachwork fitted to Chassis No 1009 but what is known is that in the 1920’s a limousine body was fitted by H.J. Mulliner. Following the Second World War, the car became part of the legendary collection belonging to Stanley Sears. The car was rescued by Sears as a bare chassis which he originally intended to restore, however in the 1950’s he sold it to a collector in California who in 1959 instructed coachbuilder Maurice Schwartz to construct Balloon Car Roadster coachwork for the car. A full restoration was carried out by Schwartz simultaneously whilst the new coachwork was constructed and fitted. Appearances at a number of top concours events ensued during the 1970’s including a showing at Pebble Beach where its quality was rewarded upon the hallowed Californian turf. Chassis No 1009 remained in the United States until returning to the UK in 1999 and was first encountered in more recent times by Frank Dale & Stepsons when supplied to a large collection in Europe. It has subsequently been sparingly used and still presents very well in every respect. This very early production Silver Ghost may be one of the oldest surviving Rolls-Royce motor cars in the world and is the most senior example currently being offered for sale worldwide as far as we are aware. It certainly represents a rare opportunity to acquire a piece of motoring history, especially one completed with such stylish coachwork. In our opinion Chassis No 1009 is a truly wonderful example that would enhance even the most prestigious of collections.
An older restoration still in very good order throughout.
Technical Data : Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in-line engine, 7.4 litres displacement, 7,428cc capacity.