1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Tourer

The legendary Rolls-Royce model first introduced in 1906 was not initially referred to as a Silver Ghost rather, the 40/50, referring to its 40 taxable horsepower and 50 real horsepower. The first 40/50 to bear the name Silver Ghost was actually the thirteenth chassis to-be-built. It featured an aluminum body by Barker with silver-plated exterior fittings and a sliver-plated brass plate bearing the name “Silver Ghost.” The name stuck and Silver Ghosts became known not only for their incredible reliability, but also for their virtually silent operation, smoothness, and absence of vibration. Simply stated in a 1911 company catalogue: “The Rolls-Royce Car is bought by people who will have the best and nothing but the best.” The company unabashedly claimed “The Best Car in the World” as its mantra. Production continued in England through 1925 and in America at Rolls-Royce’s Springfield facility from 1921-1926. At the time, no car was built better; its excellence achieved by a painstaking dedication to detail unique in the automotive industry.

Chassis 48PK, a long-wheelbase Ghost, was originally sold to G.C.H. Matthey, Esquire of London, U.K. who took delivery on February 13, 1925. According to Rolls-Royce Foundation records, it was fitted with All-Weather Cabriolet coachwork by Park Ward and painted Dark Blue and Black. The firm of Johnson Matthey produced precious metals in Hatton Garden, London, and it is reputed that all the parts were plated in platinum so they would not tarnish. The original records noting mechanical specs are quite detailed and extensive befitting a proper motorcar such as this. One card curiously states that the chassis was in the Experimental Dept. and that “several of the construction cards are missing and cannot be traced.”

Chassis 48PK was one of three experimental chassis fitted with special engines, brakes, and other modifications for possible fitment to production vehicles. As the last of the three chassis, it was equipped with four-wheel brakes and more “gas-tight” pedals but practically no other modifications. The car . . . “was used by the Sales Department at London. While being tested in France by Commander Briggs, it was involved in an accident causing damage to the wings only, in spite of the car hitting a tree and overturning. At first, it was thought that the cause was due to the front wheel brakes but it was later found to be caused by a failure of the bolt holding the axle to the spring. After repairs 48PK was sold . . .”

Records indicate the car under the ownership of a Mr. G. Flavell of Newport Pagnell from a letter dated April 10, 1954. At some time, the current body designed by Bruce Wootton was supplied to the car prior to it arriving in the states. An undated issue of the RREC Bulletin details pictures of the car. Still another letter dated September 22, 1989 shows the car in the possession of Jacques D. Bambling of Easton, Maryland. It is Brambling who questions Rolls-Royce expert Brian Locke as to the unique copper and brass fittings that are plated in platinum.

Currently, the car is painted a fashionable cream color with matching disc wheels – including the dual side-mounted spare tires – over a tan leather interior. Despite being an older ground-up nut and bolt restoration, the car presents quite nicely as it has been well cared-for and routinely maintained by a Ghost expert. It is both well-toured and well-known within Rolls-Royce circles. In addition, it has been fitted within the last seven or so years with electronic overdrive on its 4-speed transmission to provide for effortless operation at modern highway speeds. Mechanically speaking, it is described as “spot on” and with is capacious interior two can ride in both the front and rear compartments quite comfortably. Quite simply, a grand automobile perfectly suited for touring in grand style!

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