1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Enclosed Cabriolet by Hooper
1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Enclosed Cabriolet by Hooper
- Originally delivered to the Lord Stanley
- Matching numbers & retaining the original coachwork
- Mechanically gone through by Jonathan Wood
- Engine recently rebuilt with bespoke high compression pistons
Rolls Royce had made some very interesting and advanced cars in their early years of production but it was the Silver Ghost that really put them on the map. The company made the decision to drop all other models and concentrate their attention, solely, on the 40/50hp, which would become known as the Silver Ghost, allowing them to create a machine that lived up to the billing of ‘The Best Car in the World’. Having been launched in 1908, the 40/50hp proved to be an exceptionally reliable machine completing a 2000 mile trial under RAC supervision before mastering the 15,000 mile Scottish Reliability Trial. With these two (and other) results under its belt, the models reputation grew not least in North America where reliability when covering long distances in comfort was at a premium.
At the heart on the Silver Ghost is its wonderful 7,036cc side valve engine with no less than a seven bearing crankshaft and pressure lubrication, driven through a 4-speed gearbox. Semi-elliptic springs at the front and ‘platform’ leaf-springs at the rear gave a wonderful ride that became the envy of the industry.
Chassis number 36EM was ordered by Hooper & Co Ltd for Lord Stanley, the future Earl of Derby, in October 1923. The rolling chassis was delivered to Hooper just before Christmas that year to be fitted with its Enclosed Cabriolet body, which it retains to this day.
There were a huge number of coachbuilders to choose from when it came to specifying a body for your new Rolls Royce, but Hooper were considered one of, if not the, best. Established in 1805, Hooper were the first choice of the Royal Family, in fact, Hooper held royal warrants in an unbroken sequence from 1830 until they closed just after the Second World War and their factory in Chelsea was the largest of its kind in London. Other clients included the Emperor of Japan, the King of Egypt and the Shah of Persia. According to the Times, Hooper’s list of royal and distinguished patrons was: “unequalled by any other coachbuilder in the World”.
Lord Stanley was aware of the benefit of front brakes and the story goes that he knew Rolls-Royce were developing front wheel brakes and requested that his new Silver Ghost be delivered with them fitted. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible as Mr. Royce was not completely happy with the set up and insisted it wasn’t ready to be fitted to customers’ cars. A compromise was that as soon as they were ready the car would be returned to works to have them fitted, which they duly were in January 1925.
From the records it would seem that Lord Stanley kept the car until 1932 when some service work is listed for Messrs Rippon. The factory records also show that 36EM went back to the works in June 1938 for an extensive overhaul.
The history from this point through to 1986 is not clear but we understand that the car spent some time in the United States, returning to the UK in 1986 when the car was bought by a Mr. Michael Sapsford of Pevensey, East Sussex. He kept the car just a year before Mr. Ivan Odds bought the car in January 1987. Mr. Odds had a number of vintage cars and used them for his wedding and event car hire business. He bought 36EM because of its originality and provenance but his business meant it had to be in exemplary condition so he immediately set about restoring the car to as she was when new. The only deviation from original specification was painting the car Burgundy over Black as opposed to the original colours of Derby Blue over Black.
Once restored 36 EM enjoyed nearly 30 years of cherished ownership and use with Mr. Odds and in its role as a wedding and event hire car was used in the hugely successful period drama, Downton Abbey and we have even tracked down a photo of Murray Walker chauffeuring Damon Hill and Heinz-Harald Frentzen around Silverstone in 1999!
In 2014 the hard decision was made to sell 36EM and the car was taken to marque specialist, Jonathan Wood who sold the car to the current owner.
The current owner is a well-respected Rolls-Royce enthusiast and collector with extremely high standards when it comes to his cars. As a result despite being in perfectly acceptable mechanical condition the owner instructed Jonathan Wood to go through the car and rectify any issues with no job being too big or small. The invoice for said work is 12 pages long! Special high compression pistons were ordered from a specialist manufacturer in the United States and the engine was completely rebuilt using said pistons by respected marque specialist Roy O’Sullivan. At the same time a bespoke overdrive was built and fitted by Tim Payne of F.J. Payne a desirable addition for any owner who wants to take part in the large number of rallys and tours available to these cars. Since being gone through the car has been used on a number of 20 Ghost Club events and has performed faultlessly.
Today, acquiring correct and original Pre-War cars is becoming harder and harder with the best examples being in collections or museums and unlikely to come to market. Low values after the war and shortages of spare parts means that most cars of this era have seen bodies changed numerous times, engines replaced and other parts from other cars used just to keep them going over the last 70/80 years.
36 EM represents not just an opportunity to acquire an example of the car that Rolls-Royce built their reputation on, but one that retains all of its original major mechanical components and its stunning coachwork by arguably the best coachbuilder of the time. Coupling this originality with the provenance, history and phenomenal mechanical condition of the car today culminates in this being one of the finest examples of the world’s greatest motor car from the era that defined them. As a box ticking exercise, that takes some beating.