1920 ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER GHOST LANDAULET
COACHWORK BY BREWSTER
Registration No. Not UK registered
Chassis No. 72 GE
Engine No. N 489
Body No. 2380
Engine: six-cylinder 7428cc, side valves, 48bhp at 1000rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Brakes: mechanically operated with servo assistance to rear drums; Suspension: half elliptics to front, cantilever to rear. Right hand drive.
Henry Royce's serene six-cylinder 40/50 hp automobile of 1906 almost immediately became the standard for quality and effortless performance by which all other luxury cars were judged. It was to remain in production as the Silver Ghost for almost two decades and with only minor modifications provided formidable competition until the very moment it was superseded by the Phantom, itself derived directly from its illustrious predecessor. The Silver Ghost not only brought automobile engineering to new levels of refinement, it also provided a sound basis on which the world's finest coachbuilders could create their best work, whether it was an exquisitely crafted formal town carriage by Hooper of St. James or by Brewster of New York. Brewster eventually became a Rolls-Royce agent and it was to them that 72 GE was shipped by SS Vasconia from London Docks in April 1921. A chassis drawing had preceded it in November 1920. According to factory documentation, Brewster had declared that their landaulet coachwork would weigh some 950 lbs and that up to six passengers and their luggage weighing 150 lbs would be carried. The usual fittings were to be nickel-plated and an additional Dunlop 895 x 135 spare wheel was ordered, although there is a note that 33 x 5 wheels were to be built for the car in the USA. Sidelamps were not supplied, neither were tyres, and for these credit was allowed. As shipped, the price was £1850 less 20 presumably Brewster's agent discount.
Mr. St. Cyr, a wealthy gentleman from the bay area, had ordered his new Rolls-Royce for delivery in August 1921, but it seems he used the car infrequently, finally putting it on blocks in store in San Fransisco in about 1932. It remained in what was clearly ideal storage conditions until Mr. Saint Cyr passed away in 1967. At that point it passed into the ownership of the father of the vendor who also put it on blocks and therefore it has remained unused and has now just 7066 total recorded miles.
The car offered here is a remarkable survivor, in every sense an automobile in a time warp. The supremely elegant Brewster coachwork has survived in breathtaking condition. The black paintwork, though faded is described as 'beautifully original and preserved'. Some cracking is visible in the black leather of the front compartment, but the grey broadcloth of the owner's compartment, with its pleated squab and buttoned seat base, is 'as new'. The detailing throughout the car is amazing; as an example, under the rear seat is a finely constructed cane base, whilst the car also carries a speaking tube with power amplification. Examination by Christie's revealed that every main wooden panel is stamped with Brewster's number '2380'. The engine is even fitted with a few of the original, and now very rare, Splitdorf sparking plugs. Even the vulnerable undertrays and their fittings have survived largely undamaged. Despite decades of inactivity, the engine is free and it is believed that recommissioning would be a fairly simple matter.
This motor car has had just two owners from new and retains all its original features with full matching numbers; it was recently discovered by Christie's in San Francisco and represents a possibly final opportunity to acquire one of the greatest of all automobiles in largely the condition in which it left the coachbuilder some 76 years ago.
The car has been cleared by UK Customs as a car of historic interest and consequently attracts the low rate of VAT (2½ if purchased by an EC resident.
We are delighted to confirm that a new owner of the Rolls-Royce has been guaranteed an entry with the car in the Cartier 'Style et Luxe' design competition for "highly original coachbuilt cars" at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed in June.
The Rolls-Royce will be on view during the weeks prior to the sale either at Jack Barclay in Berkeley Square or at the Nine Elms showroom, Vauxhall. For further information on viewing please contact the International Motor Car Department.