2022 | London Auction
1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Tourer
Coachwork by Barker
One of Seven Parallel-Bonnet Silver Ghosts Retaining Its Original Open Coachwork
Fitted with Its Original Engine per Factory Records
Known Ownership History Including Numerous Famed Collectors
Veteran of Many Tours and Concours Events Including the Challenging Alpine Centenary Tour
Actively Driven and Kept in Show-Ready Condition
Among the Very Finest Surviving Early Silver Ghosts
7,428 CC Inline L-Head 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Updraft Carburetor
50 HP (Rated) at 1,500 RPM
3-Speed Manual Gearbox
Rear-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Front Beam-Axle Suspension with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear Live-Axle Suspension with Three-Quarter-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Sir Edgar Bowring, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada (acquired new via William Watson Ltd. of Liverpool by 1913)
Stanley Edward Sears, Bolney, UK (acquired by 1954)
James Melton, Westport, Connecticut (acquired by 1954)
Bill Pollock, Pottstown, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above in 1954)
D.H. Stead, Studbury, Suffolk, UK (acquired via Coys of Kensington in 1975)
Henry Petronis, Easton, Maryland (acquired from the above via Charles Howard in 1985)
Richard S. King, Fairfield, Connecticut (acquired from the above in 1999)
Ken McBride, Seattle, Washington (acquired from the above via Donald Meyer in 2007)
Barry Dougherty, Pottstown, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above circa 2008)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2010)
Glidden Tour, circa late 1950s
Rolls-Royce and Bentley West Coast Tour, 2004
Alpine Centenary Tour, 2013
Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, 2014
See UK Registration/Import Status Guide in catalogue.
The 1906 Olympia Motor Show saw the debut of the Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP chassis – commonly known as the Silver Ghost – and it deservedly remains the bedrock of the Rolls-Royce mystique. Immediately acclaimed by the press and buyers alike, the 40/50 HP model’s capabilities were ably demonstrated by a succession of record-setting long-distance tours, rallies, and publicity events orchestrated by Rolls-Royce managing director Claude Johnson. An outright success, the 40/50 was built until 1926, when the new Phantom succeeded it. Admired by automotive connoisseurs since its launch, all surviving Silver Ghost examples have been carefully documented by marque experts and coveted by devoted collectors. Silver Ghosts built prior to the outbreak of WWI are the most revered and sought-after, with the earliest parallel-bonnet cars exemplifying the stately elegance of the original design. In all, 6,173 Silver Ghosts were created, and each was appreciated for its reliability, silent operation, and driving ease – characteristics that have remained true for over a century.
This fascinating parallel-bonnet Silver Ghost was first purchased by Edgar Bowring, a politician and member of a prominent family operating a chain of retail stores under the name Bowring Brothers in Canada. The “On-Test” date of chassis 1921 is noted as March 1, 1912. It soon received its coachwork, which remains installed today – a svelte, open-touring body, with the lower section of the windshield ingeniously encompassed in an extended cowl. Taking delivery by early 1913, Mr. Bowring had 1921 shipped to his Newfoundland compound as he tended to the family business, though he would return it to the Rolls-Royce works for maintenance as necessary.
Knighted in 1915, Sir Edgar’s years with the car are documented by the Rolls-Royce factory, along with the extensive build records, comprising a volume of the Silver Ghost’s early life. A photo taken circa 1914, published in the book Cars of Canada, depicts 1921 in front of the Bowring’s Newfoundland carriage house along with other cars in the family’s motor pool, appearing much as it does today.
According to John Fasal and Bryan Goodman’s definitive book The Edwardian Rolls-Royce, 1921 remained with Sir Edgar until his death in 1943, a remarkable term of ownership. Fasal records that 1921’s next known owner was noted Rolls-Royce collector Stanley Sears of Sussex, UK. Photographs of the car emerging from storage during this period illustrate how incredibly original and intact it had remained throughout this critical time.
By 1954, chassis 1921 had been in the hands of two pioneering American collectors. Bill Pollock, the revered enthusiast from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, states in handwritten notes on file that he purchased the Rolls-Royce from popular singer and famed collector James Melton in February 1954 for the sum of $2,000. Mr. Pollock retained 1921 for 20 years, and had great reverence for the car, taking part in a Glidden Tour with his daughter in the late 1950s.
In 1985, collector Henry Petronis of Easton, Maryland, purchased 1921 from a UK-based owner and elected to have the car restored in England by respected Silver Ghost historian Jonathan Harley, prior to importing it to the US. At that time, the coachwork was refinished in its current shades of brown, and photos on file document the extent of the body-off restoration. In 1999, Mr. Petronis sold 1921 to collector Richard King, who participated in the 1,500-mile Rolls-Royce and Bentley West Coast Tour in 2004. Mr. King reports that he had the engine rebuilt during his ownership, and thoroughly enjoyed 1921’s dynamics on the road, with its three-speed gearbox providing the perfect ratio for most any driving situation.
Subsequent owners include Seattle-based collector Ken McBride and East Coast classic car authority Barry Dougherty of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Dougherty had looked after the Rolls-Royce in his younger years, during his friend and mentor Bill Pollock’s ownership, over 30 years prior.
The consignor acquired this incredible Silver Ghost in 2010, reimporting it to the UK, and enthusiastically adding it to his collection of significant classics. As with all of his cars, he has looked after 1921 with a deep sense of stewardship, and seemingly with a cost-is-no-object approach so as to keep it in top order. The experienced craftsmen at the restoration houses of Jonathan Wood and A.J. Glew have skillfully addressed both mechanical and cosmetic items and maintained the Rolls-Royce in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications; invoices on file total nearly £150,000.
In 2013, the owner took part in the Alpine Centenary Tour, closely adhering to the original Silver Ghost proving run, which covered much of Europe in 1913. This challenging event’s route covered nearly 2,000 miles over dozens of mountain passes – the same feat the Silver Ghost amazed the world with in-period and, due to their engineering and quality, the event proved the model to be “The Best Car in the World.” In testament to the moniker, these magnificent cars are still capable of traversing the route today. In the years since, the Silver Ghost has been driven and enjoyed, but always returned to a finely detailed state following each outing.
Close inspection is recommended as this Silver Ghost exudes a strong presence and an authority that stems from still being in its prime well over a century since it was built. Its beautiful lines bring to life the style of open motoring in the Edwardian Era, and its traditional weather equipment, for the inevitable shower, only adds to its elegance. The interior’s leather hides show the welcome effects of thousands of touring miles, adding to its outstanding presentation. Its full instrumentation is a familiar hallmark of the early years of Rolls-Royce, before the introduction of the traditional dashboard.
Offered here is one of the world’s greatest Silver Ghosts. It has been owned by several of the most knowledgeable and respected collectors of the Rolls- Royce marque, who have each appreciated its significance and rarity. It is one of a precious few early, open examples retaining its original coachwork, and one of just seven parallel-bonnet examples able to make this claim. A superb Rolls-Royce by any measure, Gooding & Company proudly offers this Silver Ghost, a superb Rolls-Royce by any measure, publicly, for the first time. The rarity of the opportunity cannot be overemphasized.