THE PROCEEDS OF THIS LOT WILL BE DONATED TO HILLSDALE COLLEGE
1909 ROLLS-ROYCE 40/50 SILVER GHOST 7.4 LITRE 4 SPEED BALLOON CAR
COACHWORK BY MAURICE SCHWARTZ
Chassis No. 1009
Cream with blue striping and green leather upholstery
Engine: in-line six cylinder in two blocks of three, L-head, bore 4 ", stroke 4 ", 7428cc (453 ci.), dual ignition, pressure lubrication; Transmission: cone clutch, 4-speed sliding gearbox with right-hand gate change, final drive by shaft; Suspension: semi-elliptic front springs and elliptic rear; Brakes: external contracting on rear wheels and transmission. Right hand drive.
On 30th March 1907 an advert appeared in The Autocar headed 'The Best Six-Cylinder Car in the World'. The advertiser was Rolls-Royce Ltd. and the product was the firm's new 40/50 model that had been introduced to the public at the Olympia Motor Show in November 1906. It was a bold claim to be made by a company that had only been making motor cars for four years. However, once the 15,000 miles trial of the 40/50 called 'Silver Ghost' had successfully taken place, the claim was demonstrated to have merit. Over the car's 18 year production the other manufacturers challenged this claim, but in the eyes of the general public and to a steady stream of discerning buyers, who could afford the 985POUNDS for a chassis and then pay to have a body of their choice built upon it, a Rolls-Royce was indeed the best car in the world.
On the 30th of June 1909 Rolls-Royce chassis Number 1009 left the Derby factory destined to pass through the showrooms of Oxford Street, London, dealers Laurie & Marne to a Mrs. W K D'Arcy of Norfolk, England. The car was registered A11 834, a County of Norfolk number. It is not known what body Mrs. D'Arcy originally had fitted to the chassis but there is a suggestion that it may have been a tourer by Mulliner. The early history of the car is unknown but in the nineteen twenties it was recorded as being fitted with a limousine body, in this case definitely by Mulliner.
After the Second World War the car was in the collection of Stanley Sears of Bolney, Sussex. Sears was one of the first UK collectors of historic cars and also probably the first UK collector to restore cars to the highest standard. His collection included fine cars of every era but was strong on sporting and racing cars, and particularly Rolls-Royce, including a 1905 Light Twenty, a 1913 Alpine Trial Silver Ghost and a 1927 Phantom I Open Drive Limousine with opulent Louis Quinze interior. 1009 was rescued by him as a bare chassis and it was Sears' intention to restore it as such, but in the 1950's he sold it to a California collector and it has remained with his family since then. In 1959 the sporting Balloon style coachwork was built by famed coachbuilder, Maurice Schwartz, famously of Bohmann & Schwartz in Pasadena. The quality of craftsmanship and design is evident in the sloping curves of the coachwork. The Ghost was fully restored in the late 1950's when the current coachwork was fitted. Some years ago, it was cosmetically freshened up and today the restoration has a nice patina. Over the years, chassis 1009 has been shown at various Californian Concours events including Pebble Beach in the 1970's when it received a second prize ribbon. It has recently been inspected and prepared for sale by a qualified mechanic who reports the Ghost to be in very good overall running condition, with very spirited performance due to the light coachwork and gear ratios on the car.
Apart from being an early example of a Silver Ghost with the sought after 'parallel bonnet', 1009 is special in a number of other ways. There were only 16 cars made in the 1000 series, and as far as can be ascertained, this is the only example to survive. All the early Ghosts (apart from the special 70 hp) had an engine of 4 inch bore and stroke of just over 7-litres. However, from the Chassis Number 60950 (30th April 1909) the stroke was lengthened to 4 inches and this larger engine was used for all subsequent Silver Ghost engines. Up until the 1100 Series cars introduced in June 1909, Silver Ghosts had been equipped with a 4-speed gearbox with direct drive in 3rd gear and overdrive on 4th. The 1100 Series cars were the first examples to have 3-speed gearboxes which remained standard until 1913 when the 4-speed box was re-introduced.
Therefore, 1009 has the bigger 7.4-litre engine plus the 4-speed gearbox. Research suggests that only two other surviving cars (in the 60000 Series that precedes the 1000 Series) are of similar configuration. Thus this car is a highly desirable and exceedingly rare example of the legendary Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost.
The sale proceeds of this lot will be donated to Hillsdale College.