26 April 1997,
New York, Park Avenue
Price realised USD 27,600
USD 25,000 - USD 35,000
FROM THE RUSSELL B. AITKEN COLLECTION
1956 ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER WRAITH SEVEN PASSENGER LIMOUSINE
COACHWORK BY H.J. MULLINER
Chassis No. LELW49
Engine No. L48E
Black with grey cloth driver's compartment and beige cloth rear.
Engine: six-cylinder, overhead valve, 4,887cc, 178hp; Gearbox: four-speed hydramatic; Suspension: independent front, solid axle rear with semi-elliptic springs; Brakes: hydraulic front, mechanical rear with servo. Left hand drive.
Produced from 1946 to 1958, the Silver Wraith was a post-war continuation of the 1938-1939 Wraith, although with a totally redesigned engine and a refined chassis with an independent front suspension eliminating the braking dive problem that has plagued pre-war Wraiths and Phantoms. The cars were also equipped with conventional disc wheels replacing the less sturdy wire spokes used pre-war. Because no successor to the Phantom III was introduced until 1950, the Silver Wraith additionally took on the mantle of the largest Rolls-Royce until the debut of the Phantom IV.
The post-war models lost some of the idiosyncratic charm and expensive individuality of their predecessors, but became overall better, and more modern automobiles. Early examples bore coachwork strongly resembling pre-war designs. However, by 1956 when this Mulliner limousine was produced, the cars had achieved a sense of stateliness that combined proper Rolls-Royce bearing with sweeping fenderlines and aristocratic style. Produced in series from 10 to 100 examples, these long wheelbase Silver Wraiths bodied through 1958, were the last models to bear the classic era Rolls-Royce look, making them eminently collectable today.
This Silver Wraith was delivered to the Aitken residence in Manhattan, New York and we are told that it was regularly maintained by a Manhattan Rolls-Royce specialist. Following storage for eight years, the Wraith was driven from New York to Newport, Rhode Island where we are told it has been used only for short distance driving and has been regularly started to keep the engine lubricated. The car is in substantially original condition and not had any major overhauls or restoration work done. There are a few blisters and blemishes on the paintwork notably on the edge of the fenders and some usual wear to the interior but the overall cosmetics of this vehicle appear to be sound. This single owner Rolls-Royce has just 53,000 miles recorded and with some fine tuning will make a very nice car. As with the previous lot, the Silver Cloud I Drophead, Christie's is extremly pleased to be offering this vehicle on Mr. Aitken's behalf.
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