1921 Rolls Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost – rare brass finish car
The legend that was to become Rolls Royce was founded in May 1904 when a deal was struck between Frederick Henry Royce and Charles Stewart Rolls. Shortly after the first Rolls Royce motor car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in December 1904. It was agreed that Rolls Royce would initially manufacture four different models being a two cylinder 10hp model, a three cylinder 15hp model, a four cylinder 20hp model and a six cylinder 20hp model. It was immediately apparent that to manufacture their cars Rolls Royce would require a larger factory and the decision was made to establish their headquarters and manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Derby in the east midlands of England.
On the 15th March 1906 the company Rolls Royce Limited was formed and during this year Royce had been developing an improved six-cylinder model with more power than the 30hp. Initially designated the 40/50hp, this was the company’s first all-new model that was also to become known as the Silver Ghost.
Introduced in 1907, the 40/50hp or Silver Ghost remained in production until 1926. Originally powered by a 7,036cc six-cylinder engine, this was increased to 7,428cc in 1909 and following rave reviews was designated by the English car magazine Autocar as ‘the best car in the world’.
Incredibly a total of 7874 Silver Ghost cars were produced from 1907 to 1926 and it is understood that some 200 cars were sold new in Australia.
We are delighted to offer for the first time in 32 years the following all matching numbers Australian delivered 1921 Rolls Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost.
The car is chassis number 142LG and engine number 0.293 and it was delivered new as a brass finish, short wheelbase ‘High Speed’ model with a 40/50 hp engine. The factory build sheets confirm the car as ‘matching numbers’.
The records also confirm that 142LG was delivered new to Australia and its history has been well documented. From new 142LG was fitted with a California hard top touring body believed to have been built by The Melbourne Motor Body Building Co and its first owner was well known horse racing identity Solomon Green. When Green acquired another Silver Ghost in 1924 142LG was sold to Annie & Louis Sluice who were friends of Green. According to the history books Sluice used the car regularly often taking it on major interstate trips. 142LG is then understood to have passed to a Mr Long in Victoria and then to a Dr Stephens of Yarra Junction in Victoria. Interestingly in the early 1930’s 142LG was re-bodied by Cheetham & Borwick as a saloon whilst maintaining the original mudguards. 142LG’s next owner was another doctor, a Dr Murdoch of Yarra Junction in Victoria. The car’s next owner is understood to have been a Mr Walter Hiscock who had a number of business interests, interestingly one of which was City Motor Service where the car was supposedly used as a Melbourne taxi! 142LG was then sold to a WJ O’Neil of Malvern in Victoria who owned the car for some eighteen years from 1941 to 1959. It was noted as being offered for sale at 240 pounds in 1956 and again for 200 pounds in 1958. In 1959 142LG was sold to Val Stocks of Lara in Victoria. 142LG was then acquired by Paul France in 1976 and taken to Brisbane. France subsequently took the car with him to the Northern Territory and it was then purchased by its current owner in 1981. The current owner had the car re-bodied in 1982 by Neville Webb and Bill Cardno as an open tourer which is as the car is presented today.
The above history is based on what is documented by Tom Clarke and David Neely in their 1999 book Rolls Royce and Bentley in the Sunburnt Country. Interestingly Ian Irwin in his 2004 book Silver Ghosts of Australia and New Zealand documents a slightly different trail of ownership history stating that 142LG passed directly from Long to Hiscock.
Since 142LG was purchased by its current owner in 1981 it has undergone two stages of restoration. Firstly from 1982 to 1985 it underwent a ‘cosmetic restoration’ when the car was re-bodied. This work included stripping the chassis back to bare metal, rust proofing and painting it as well as re-trimming the interior. The braking system and many of the engine accessories were also refurbished at this time. Following a 2,500km round trip from Brisbane to Echuca and back to Brisbane for a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Rally in 1994 it became apparent the 142LG needed some mechanical work. Shortly thereafter the owner embarked on the second stage or ‘mechanical restoration’ of the car. What unfolded was a total nut and bolt refurbishment of every mechanical component of the car. To quote the owner ” . . . The term restoration takes on different connotations for different people and differing circumstances. In the case of 142LG and its component parts, it means that the item has been restored – or remanufactured – so that it fully replicates the form and intended utility of the original unless otherwise described.” To describe the owner’s attention to detail as a meticulous would be a gross understatement and the end result of his twelve year journey to mechanically restore this car to its former glory is quite amazing. I have spoken to a very well known Silver Ghost owner and enthusiast who has had the privilege to drive many many different Silver Ghosts all over the world and he believes this is one of the best if not the best driving Silver Ghost he has ever experienced. The engine is a work of art and it is just incredible how smoothly that it does run.
Since the mechanical restoration 142LG has travelled some 1,500 miles. To again quote the owner of the car “ . . . It has covered about 1500 miles in total – sufficient to iron out all the usual post-restoration glitches. It has done a few club runs involving up to 70 miles each way on all types of roads, including urban, arterial, freeways and poor class rural. This has been sufficient to demonstrate that it is indeed a long-legged touring car with rather brisker performance than most Ghosts – or, to plagiarise Pa Royce – with a bit more fizz! ”
It is important to note that 142LG was restored with the intention of having it as a long distance touring car rather than a show car in concours condition but unfit for serious long distance driving. Modern day practical considerations in respect of this requirement which led to minor departures from the original specification included:
▪ Fitting of an extra-oil tank
▪ Fitting of modern grease nipples to frequently lubricated points to enable easy servicing on runs.
▪ Fitting of a modern temperature gauge. For some reason, the factory Water Temperature Gauge, part number F7274, was not fitted to Series O to P cars, except for those destined for delivery to America. To have fitted a replica gauge would have involved destroying the originality of the brass casting at the rear end of the Water Outlet Pipe, part number E18628a.
▪ Fitting of a modern full-flow engine oil filter.
▪ Fitting of a Gear Vendors Overdrive unit for more comfortable and economic cruising. It was decided to fit an overdrive unit rather than instal a higher ratio crown wheel and pinion to allow the unit to be taken back to its original specification at any time and with minimum effort. It also allows a little performance cheat because it actually invites the driver to use it as a six speed unit! Since the overdrive unit manufacturer strongly recommends against using reverse gear whilst it is engaged, a safety lock-out device was made and fitted to the gear change mechanism.
▪ Fitting of replica Hartford rear shock absorbers and rear spring gaiters.
▪ Installation of modern tail/brake/indicator lights to the rear.
Note that all of the features listed above are totally and readily removable and no modifications to the original car were made to accept them. It is also to be noted that any worn and/or unserviceable original parts which were replaced by newly manufactured parts during the restoration have been preserved and it is intended that they will be included in any future sale of the car.
The overall condition of 142LG is described as ‘very very good’. As noted above mechanically the car is absolutely spot on, however, the body whilst still in excellent condition presents as an older restoration. The heavy canvassed backed vinyl is generally in very good condition, the polished aluminium bonnet and brass work are also very good, however, the black painted guards are showing some signs of age. The interior and hood are also excellent with no rips or tears .
It should be noted that the Flying Lady radiator mascot whilst not fitted to the car (as shown in the photographs) is included with the sale. Again to quote the owner “ . . . 142LG does have what appears to be its original Flying Lady radiator mascot. The reason for its absence is my belief that many radiator leaks are initiated by this weighty and unnecessary appendage and a “town cap” is the car’s usual attire. It is well known that Pa Royce strenuously opposed the approval and fitting of any radiator mascot.”
This car presents a unique opportunity as it is a matching numbers Australian delivered car with a well known history. It is unique in that it was delivered new as a brass trimmed car and the following quote from the owner makes interesting reading.”When I joined the R-ROC Inc. of America in 1982, I received a letter from Ken Kargher asking if I intended to keep 142LG as a brass trimmed car and telling me that it was the last brass trimmed Ghost built after 1913. Information contained in the extract from Ian Irwin’s book would suggest that this assertion should be amended to say … the only completely brass trimmed Ghost …, as Solly’s later Ghost was partially brass trimmed.” 142LG is fitted with a desirable open tourer body and is ready for its new owner to drive and enjoy.
142LG is reluctantly offered for sale due to the current owner’s ill health.
The car is available for inspection by appointment in Brisbane.
- Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
- 0074 miles