Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Willoughby & Co.
Numbered S242PK, this 1925 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is one of the earliest left-hand-drive Rolls-Royce automobiles built. Purchased new on December 12, 1925, by Mr. Frederic Rider of 14 Washington Square in New York City, its Salamanca Permanent Town Car body was handcrafted by Willoughby & Co. of Utica, New York, known primarily for its formal-body expertise. Only 37 Salamancas, including both Permanent and de Ville styles, were created for the Springfield Silver Ghost by various firms, including Willoughby & Co., under the Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work (RRCCW) program. Of those few, just three Salamanca Permanent-bodied cars are currently listed in Silver Ghost Association member lists, with S242PK quite possibly the only one remaining in such original condition.
According to fascinating research conducted by the current owner, it is a possibility that S242PK was displayed among a number of Willoughby & Co.-bodied automobiles at the November, 1925, Automobile Salon held at New York’s Commodore Hotel. Within a group image on page 31 of John Webb de Campi’s Rolls-Royce in America, showing the display floor of the hotel ballroom – an automobile remarkably similar in appearance to S242PK is shown at the lower right. Of particular note, both the car depicted and S242PK share such fine details as a sprung round front bumper bar, left-hand drive, simple upholstery for the driver’s seat, and a split windscreen.
Known history resumes in 1980, when respected Australian billionaire Robert Holmes à Court purchased S242PK from the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Swiss Museum of Transport). It was exported to England on December 2, 1980, and assigned UK registration no. VGO33M, arriving in Western Australia during 1981 and joining the Holmes à Court collection having accrued approximately 30,000 miles. Signal lights were added and the collection’s curator maintained S242PK in running order. Used only sparingly, the Ghost served as the wedding car for the daughter of Alan Bond, the famed Australian business executive and America’s Cup winner.
Mr. Holmes à Court passed away suddenly in 1990, and the current owner acquired S242PK in 1995. As offered, it remains unrestored and highly original, clearly benefiting from attentive care and effective preservation. The exterior finish remains remarkably good with some ageappropriate blemishes on the scuttle, only enhancing the car’s wonderful patina. The rear doors still carry the first owner’s crest and raised initials, and the passenger compartment displays fine petit-point needlework, while the excellent inlaid timber on the doors and division consistently draws admiration. A pair of drop-down occasional seats is available for short distances and the rear window retains its original privacy blind. Passenger-compartment fittings are gilded, with some wear on the door handles only adding to this graceful motorcar’s rich character. Unlike many other cars of this vintage, the clock works and the speedometer reading is stable. The luggage trunk is a very rare example made by California’s Oakland Auto Trunk Works complete with overseas travel labels.
The car retains its original Rolls-Royce-labeled leather spring gaiters accentuating its remarkable originality. A new exhaust box was fabricated as the original had developed leaks. The twin ignition coils were replaced in 1980. The brakes were checked and the apparently original linings were replaced in 1995. A testament to Willoughby’s superb construction standards, all doors close with a gentle push and a discrete “click.” Since 1995, S242PK has travelled approximately 12,000 miles on club tours while suffering only one flat tire. Remarkably quiet, particularly in the rear cabin, fabulously original, unrestored, and very well preserved, S242PK will certainly continue to embody the enduring Silver Ghost mystique wherever it should travel.