The new Rolls-Royce 40/50hp chassis was launched at London’s Olympia Motor Show in 1906. It was designed by Henry Royce to meet the demand from Edwardian motorists for a car to carry the epitome of luxurious coachwork.
Thought to be the 12th built, the very chassis on display was fitted with elegant silver-painted “Roi-des-Belges” touring coachwork and silver-plated brightwork by coachbuilder Barker & Co. It was to be used as a “trials car” by the company’s managing director Claude Johnson. Johnson called his new Rolls-Royce “The Silver Ghost.”
It had a six-cylinder engine and an overdrive fourth speed (the “sprinting gear”). This was adventurous when most motorists were still reluctant to change gear. In May 1907, the Silver Ghost began a series of public tests, culminating in an observed 15,000-mile (24,000-km) run. Over six weeks, Johnson and a team of three drivers, including the Hon Charles Rolls, covered nearly 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) a week, running around the clock, and only halting to change tires.
At the end of the test, the RAC stripped model of the car Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to measure wear: the cost of replacement parts amounted to just £2 2s 7d, although tire costs totaled £187 12s 6d.
The trial made such an impression on the motoring public that the name “Silver Ghost” became indiscriminately used for all Rolls-Royce 40/50s. The company proudly adopted the slogan, first used in The Times newspaper: “The Best Car in the World.”
“At whatever speed this car is being driven… there is no engine so far as sensation goes, nor are one’s auditory nerves troubled, driving or standing, by a fuller sound than emanates from an eight-day clock.”
The autocar magazine, 1907
Video model of the car Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
Specification model of the car Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
- YEAR REVEALED: 1906
- PLACE OF ORIGIN: Manchester, UK
- HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
- ENGINE: six-cylinder, 429ci (7,036cc)
- MAXIMUM POWER: 48bhp
- LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
- BODYWORK: various custom-made tourers and limousines
- TOP SPEED: 55mph (89kph)
- NUMBER BUILT: 6,173