Lot 53

2013   |   Amelia Island Auction 2013

1939 Rolls-Royce Wraith

Coachwork by Gurney Nutting

SOLD $88,000


$125,000 - $175,000


WHC 33



Car Highlights

Sporty Fixed Head Coupe Design
Highly Desirable Gurney Nutting Coachwork
Owned by the Same Family for 35 Years
Well-Documented Example
Rolls-Royce’s Rarest Pre-war Model
The Most Developed Small- Bore Rolls

Technical Specs

4,257 CC OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Downdraft Carburetor
05 BHP at 3,500 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes
Front Independent Suspension with Coil Springs
Rear Semi-Elliptical Leaf-Spring Suspension with Floating Axle
Register to Bid

This beautiful Wraith benefits from a well- preserved restoration as well as the select care of just two owners over the past 35 years. According to a copy of an original build sheet, WHC 33 was sold on March 14, 1939, to H.R. Owen, a well-known dealer of fine motorcars during the interwar period. The company bearing his name continues to retail automobiles to this day.

Tested on May 19, 1939, WHC 33 was delivered on June 7th to coachbuilder Gurney Nutting for drop head coupe coachwork. Though records of the Wraith’s immediate post-war history are minimal, it is clear from British registration records that it was first registered on April 27, 1946, with tags reading GVR 430, which continue to adorn the unusual rear-wheel carrier. At some point during this period, WHC 33’s roof was modified with a fixed head coupe treatment that endowed the smooth and powerful Wraith with particularly sporty proportions.

By the early 1970s, this Rolls-Royce was acquired by Stan Brunt, a restorer and dealer of fine motorcars in Newcastle, England. Mr. Brunt advertised the Wraith that soon caught the attention of Dr. Mark Sheppard of St. Petersburg, Florida, who had been searching for a quality example for some time. Pleased with the car’s strong condition and unusual coachwork, Dr. Sheppard retained Mr. Brunt to thoroughly freshen the Rolls-Royce before shipping it to him in the US. The work included repainting the exterior, replating most of the brightwork, refurbishing the interior, and rebuilding the engine with a new flywheel, carburetor, and water pump. Restoration invoices and a customs manifest are included in a well-organized binder of documentation.

Importing WHC 33 on December 29, 1975, Dr. Sheppard enjoyed the car until his passing in 1978, when it was purchased from his estate by Delton Woodard, a marque enthusiast also residing in St. Petersburg. Eager to present the car to the circles of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, Mr. Woodard first conducted some cosmetic work. Antique Autos of America of North Largo, Florida, was retained to add rain gutters and moldings to the modified roof, which was then repainted in white to contrast the blue body. This livery emphasized the nuances of the canopy’s unusual sloping B-pillar that was further complemented with the addition of French-curve styled rear-wheel spats.

Mr. Woodard began regularly showing WHC 33 at RROC regional events, drawing 1st Place awards in 1979, 1982, 1984, and 1986. Correspondence also records Mr. Woodard’s contact with Wraith expert Tom Clarke, author of The Rolls-Royce “Wraith,” who confirmed that WHC 33 was depicted in his book.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Woodard’s family inherited WHC 33 following his passing. Eager to maintain their father’s dedication to the Wraith, they continued to duly maintain the car, driving it sparingly with the exception of occasional family weddings, and a couple of organized tours along the St. Lawrence and Rappahannock rivers during the early 2000s. This Wraith’s superb older restoration and original interior, still displaying a strong state of upkeep, offer unusual coachwork and a recent history of regular maintenance and documentation. It would be warmly welcomed at RROC events and promises the particular delight of traveling in Rolls-Royce’s luxurious style.