Looking at the clumsy double tops I wonder: What were they thinking?

When electrical engineer F. H. Royce joined forces with well-known motoring sportsman the Hon. C. S. Rolls to form Rolls-Royce Motors in 1905, it took them two years to hit their stride with the 40/50 HP model, now commonly called the "Silver Ghost."
Rolls promoted the marque in trials and road races, while Royce, a mechanical genius, developed the 10 HP twin, then the 15, the 20 and 30 HP models, and finally the 40/50, introduced in 1907.
The heart of the Silver Ghost was its magnificent engine, a 7,036-cc (later 7,428-cc) side-valve six equipped with seven-bearing crankshaft and pressure lubrication. A sturdy chassis comprised of channel section side members and tubular cross members was suspended on semi-elliptic leaf springs at the front and a "platform" leaf spring arrangement at the rear, though that was soon revised.
The transmission was soon changed too, a three-speed with direct top replacing the original four-speed and overdrive in 1909. In the course of its 20 years in production, there would be countless other improvements, one of the most important being servo-assisted, four-wheel brakes toward the end of 1923.
Dating from the final year of Silver Ghost production, chassis number 104 EU was originally bodied by Hooper & Co. as a saloon/limousine and delivered to first owner W.G. Player of Player's Cigarettes (think R.J. Reynolds). Other owners in the accompanying file included Paddon Brothers in 1927, Mrs. Lloyd-Thomas in 1938 and Johnson Matthey of London's Hatton Garden jewelry center in 1940.
During WWII, the 1925 Silver Ghost was converted into a wrecker and subsequently restored in the 1960s by the now-defunct firm of Williamson and Inchley of Englefield Green, Surrey, who rebodied it in the style of a Hispano-Suiza Scaphandrier four-door tourer.
Acquired by its late owner in 1977 it has been fastidiously maintained and comes with a complete service record with 28 years of tax discs. "104 EU" is well known in Ghost circles, having participated in the Alpine Trial, 20 Ghost Club Tour of Japan, and Silver Ghost Association tours of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1925 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 40/50 HP
Years Produced:6,173
Original List Price:₤1,850 ($9,250); chassis only
Distributor Caps:$225
Chassis Number Location:Aluminum plate on firewall
Engine Number Location:Engine block on right side

This 1925 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost sold for $164,680, including buyer’s premium, September 10, 2005, at the Bonhams sale at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the U.K.
Among the pre-World War II Rolls-Royce cars, the 40/50 HP Silver Ghost is arguably the one to have, but of the many variants, which one do you want?
Silver Ghosts were built from 1907 to 1925 in the U.K. and from 1920 to 1926 in Springfield, Massachusetts. One easy way to distinguish between the U.K.-built cars and the Springfield cars is the wheels. Hub centers on U.S.-built cars have an indentation for the wheel spanner; U.K.-built wheel hubs are flat. Regardless of the coachwork, you can instantly tell if the chassis is British or American.
Rolls-Royce coachwork is a complex subject. All of it was custom made and many Silver Ghosts had more than one body-a formal design as well as an open design, or perhaps a semi-open car. They were changed to suit the occasion or the season. The chassis was more robust than the bodies and many of these original bodies did not survive, so a Silver Ghost with an original body will bring all the money when it comes up for sale.
Many Hooper-bodied 40/50 hp cars-as this one was-have remained on their original chassis because they were so well made. So it’s rather sad that this car doesn’t carry its original coachwork. If it did, even with this car’s original boxy design, it might have brought more money-a 1922 barrel-sided Ghost tourer brought $218,050 at Bonhams’ Goodwood sale in 2004 (SCM #35035).
The clumsy double tops make me wonder: What were they thinking? Why choose this ungainly body? And why copy a body designed for a French car, a Hispano-Suiza? The long and low engine compartment of the Ghost presented an opportunity to have the car rebodied as a sleek, open, touring car. The aluminum bonnet line is good, and the wooden barrel-sided coachwork, reminiscent of many skiff-type designs, is well suited to the chassis. But to my eye, the thoughtful design ends there.
Replacement bodies on these cars are a thorn in the side of purists. A car with a modern body will rarely have been built to the same standards as the original. It’s all in the details, and a functional replica body may carry crude brightwork and lines seldom as elegant as the real thing. Most replica bodies are open tourers because they require less skill to make and are cheaper to build. The informed buyer will try to avoid these cars or buy them for the chassis value alone.
But at least S/N 104 EU has been used. The important thing to Rolls-Royce enthusiasts is to preserve and enjoy the car. These cars do best when they are frequently exercised. As evidenced by the tidy row of touring badges displayed alongside its frame rails, this 1925 Silver Ghost has been driven. There is nothing creakier, crankier to operate, tougher to steer, or less reliable than a car that lives in a museum.
A car like this may show a bit of grease, but it starts instantly and idles silently, often at less than 100 rpm. I imagine this particular car is a superb runner, judging from its well-traveled history. Was it well bought? I’d have to say it’s at the top of the price range, but the owner should get years of enjoyment.
If you have the itch to add a Rolls-Royce to your collection, first become well-
informed. Attend high-level concours like Pebble Beach and Meadow Brook. Talk to owners and car handlers and don’t be afraid to ask questions (though not while the car is being judged). I’ve never had a conversation with a Rolls-Royce owner who wasn’t thrilled to tell me about his or her car in detail. Study books on the marque and join one of the clubs as an associate member. Choose either the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club in the U.S. or the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club in the U.K. Ask questions, make notes, and read, read, read. You’ll learn to see past the radiator and Flying Lady mascot to really appreciate the car.
The Silver Ghost is very reliable and can be driven almost anywhere with confidence, assuming you have one day each week to devote to its maintenance. As long as the many oiling points are kept lubricated, the grease cups are kept filled and then turned one-quarter every 50 miles or so, and the mechanical adjustments are kept to standard, the cars have long lives. Even the youngest are 80 years old.
If you can afford it and seek the best, look for a pre-WWI Rolls-Royce with documented original coachwork. Ask to see copies of the original works chassis cards for validation. For the $400,000-$600,000 you’re going to spend, they should be available.
An example of Silver Ghost road manners was evidenced in the summer of 2004 (the 100th anniversary of Rolls-Royce) when my old friend, Mermie Karger, drove her 1913 Silver Ghost Saoutchik Tourer 2442 from her home in Pennsylvania to Pebble Beach and back-over 5,000 miles without incident.

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