Ghostly legend for sale

DAVE MOORE
Last updated 06:01 13/08/2012
1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
Fairfax NZ

1911 ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER GHOST: The best car in the world may cost you only a tenth as much as a much newer Ferrari.

1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
Fairfax NZ
BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: The Silver Ghost's chauffeur was one of the more fortunate drivers.
1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
Fairfax NZ
EPITOME OF RELIABILITY: The engine could take the Silver Ghost from Land's End to John O'Groats and back without changing out of top gear.

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In Britain, where radio DJs are in the habit of spending more than NZ$10 million apiece for Ferraris from the 1950s and 1960s, a Rolls-Royce almost half a century older and looking as good as the day it was built is expected to fetch just over $1m.

Not only that, it is THE Rolls- Royce. In other words, it is an example of the Silver Ghost, a model once called "The best car in the world" in a 1907 issue of the British magazine The Autocar.

Whether we agree with The Autocar is beside the point - and those that do not usually have not driven the car - but it remains arguably history's most famous luxury car and is among the most desirable pre-war veterans among collectors because it was originally designed to display the highest level of engineering skill alongside the company's passion for quality.

Silver Ghosts are rarely offered at public auction, and Historics' Auctioneers is offering this matching numbers car, chassis number 1557, built in 1911.

The company is expecting the car to conservatively gather bids up in the £450,000 (NZ$856,000) to £550,000 area when it comes to auction at Historics' home at Brooklands, England on September 1.

The Silver Ghost was revealed for the first time at London's Olympia in 1906 when it was first known simply by the numbers 40/50hp.

However, it soon gained the Silver Ghost moniker from members of the press in recognition of its serene presence. The same spirit can be seen in the car to be auctioned.

It was built the same year a Silver Ghost completed the entire journey from London to Edinburgh and back in top gear, managing a fuel consumption of 24 miles per gallon.

From this, the model's mainly word-of-mouth advertising highlighted the Silver Ghost as a marriage of power and legendary reliability.

The car was delivered on April 1, 1911, to Sir Adolph Tuck of London, whose father founded the company Raphael Tuck & Sons, selling prints and postcards during the postcard boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Originally fitted with a Landaulet body in order to be chauffeur driven - the driver was seated up front in the elements and away from its more fortunate occupants - the car was later re- bodied as a period two-seat tourer by Rippon Brothers Ltd, who are widely considered the oldest coach-building company in the world, having built a coach for the Earl of Rutland in 1555, and a "chariot throne" for Queen Elizabeth I in 1584.

Producing bespoke bodies for numerous Rolls-Royce models right up to 1959, Rippon Brothers won the coveted Coachmakers Cup at the London Motor Show on a number of occasions, including eight successive titles in the 1930s.

Chassis 1557 boasts an equally impressive award-winning history, and in 1977 attended the Queen's Jubilee parade through Windsor Castle to the Silver Ring at Ascot Race Course.

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A complete restoration was commissioned in 2001, with the painstaking 12-month process resulting in a finish of the highest possible standard.

Subsequent Concours prizes at annual Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club rallies attest to its quality.

Complete with acetylene head and side lamps, boa-constrictor horn and a complete original tool kit under the passenger side running board, number 1557 is coach-painted in dark blue, with hand-brushed coachlines matching that of the opulent red-leather interior.

Commenting on the consignment, Historics' Auction director Edward Bridger-Stille says: "With nine sales [events] now under our belts and nearly 1000 cars put forward, this is one of the finest examples we have had the pleasure of bringing to auction.

"The opportunity to acquire a Silver Ghost - particularly one as beautiful as this - is extremely rare, and I anticipate that this significant, museum-quality example should generate interest from all corners of the world," Bridger-Stille said.

For a look at the Silver Ghost and other cars being prepared for the September 1 sale, click here to go to the website..

Who knows, you may see something you CAN afford.

- The Press

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