Ford wasn’t the only company that clung to a model that served the company well, and – whilst it couldn’t be further away on the automotive spectrum – the signature Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was contemporaneous with Ford’s famous Model T.
There was a slight difference in numbers, with over fifteen million Model Ts sold as opposed to just 7,874 Silver Ghosts, but each defined its own market section and set a benchmark for others to chase.
As the Roaring Twenties got under way, the Silver Ghost was still the car of choice for most really wealthy buyers on both sides of the Atlantic, having been around for 15 years and established an enviable reputation for quality build, absolute reliability and a comfortable ride in the process. In fact, Rolls-Royce prosaically described this enduring icon as the 40/50 hp (horse power) series, and only one car initially had the name ‘Silver Ghost’ – which press and public soon attached to the whole series.
This was an aluminum-painted 40/50 with silver-plated fittings and open-top body by Barker that took part in the Scottish reliability trials of 1907 and then – packed with journalists – set endurance record after endurance record in the course of a punishing 15,000 mile (24,000 km) test over Britain’s rough roads. Don’t expect to drive that one – it’s owned by Bentley Motors and insured for $35 million.
Reputation made, the series duly dominated the embryonic luxury car market, finally being officially named ‘Silver Ghost’ in 1925. In pioneering times when cars were unreliable, the Rolls-Royce 40/50 stood out as the exception to the rule. Its robust engine and sturdy chassis ensured enduring success, with no more than periodic technical updates. Its appearance never dated – buyers were able to select custom-built contemporary bodies in the style of their choice.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
FIRST MANUFACTURED: 1907 (until 1926)
7,036 cc or 7,428 cc Straight Six
Late models with lightweight bodies reached 85 mph (137 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
To take full advantage of the world’s most important car-buying market, over 1,700 Silver Ghosts were produced at the Rolls-Royce company’s American factory in Springfield, Massachusetts between 1921 and 1926.