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Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, White, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, price on application.
Its only equal may very well be the most valuable car in the world.
When discussing significant motorcars, there are few who will argue that the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost doesn’t belong at the very top of the list. The most valuable car in the world is generally acknowledged to be the very first Silver Ghost, chassis number 60551, which wears original Roi de Belges coachwork by Barker and remains in exceptional condition, despite logging an estimated 500,000 miles over the course of its lifetime. It was not the first Rolls Royce, but it is unquestionably the most significant and well known, and is today valued at more than $54 million.
This 1909 Silver Ghost, chassis number 60970, is the only short wheelbase sport chassis Silver Ghost in existence. It carries a duplicate of its original Barker Roi des Belges bodywork, has a known, fascinating history from new, and presents in stunning, concours-correct condition throughout. One of the most impressive, documented, and highly authentic early Ghosts in the world, this is a unique opportunity to own a very significant automobile that can anchor even the most impressive collections and museums.
It is not unusual for these magnificent cars to have colorful and interesting histories which often involve multiple bodies and exotic adventures, and 60970 is no different. London photographer John Henry Thomas originally owned chassis 60970, and used it extensively in his travels. Several years later, the original Roi des Belges body was removed and replaced with a torpedo body, also by Barker. In 1919, M. P. R. Sloot purchased it and took it to India, where a more appropriate safari-type body was fitted for its adventures there. In 1935, it changed hands again, landing in the care of Captain H. Cavendish. Cavendish held on to 60970 for only a year, passing it to a friend, Major C. G. Cardew in Bangalore in 1936. Cardew enjoyed the car for nearly a decade, but decided to ship it back to England during the hand-over of India in 1945. Allied Motors, the local Rolls-Royce agents in New Delhi, crated the car, but due to civil upheavals, it remained stranded at the New Delhi station for more than a year, secure in its crate. Finally, in 1947, it arrived safely at Eastleigh goods station In England. In 1959, it was discovered as a tractor on a pig farm and rescued by noted American collector Joe Loecy, who brought it to the US. In 1961, Loecy restored the car, fitting it with an exact duplicate of its original Roi des Belges coachwork, which it retains today.
Having won events like Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook, Amelia Island, and being a multiple Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club winner, 60970 is a stunning automobile in every regard. The cream coachwork contrasts brilliantly with the charcoal gray leather upholstery and black canvas hood, and is virtually flawless inside and out. The car is truly massive, despite being on a shorter 134.5-inch wheelbase sport chassis, and one could spend hours examining its many features. Compared to the Roi des Belges bodies built on the standard chassis, many feel that the shorter sport wheelbase results in a more balanced appearance and tidier proportions. The coachwork is surely even more spectacular than the original craftsmen at Barker could have managed, with paint that is deep and rich and glossy beyond anything available in 1909. Detailing is exceptional, with charcoal gray pinstripes and polished nickel hardware throughout the chassis.
The trim and brightwork on this car is brilliant, from the German silver radiator shell, to the beautifully crafted Lucas gas lamps with ornate side lenses. All of the trim on the car is polished nickel, which has been maintained to a mirror-like shine and shows no signs of tarnishing. Accessories include a boa horn, running board mounted toolbox and shoe cleaning mats. All of the wood on the car, including the beautiful windshield frame, has been restored to better-than-new condition.
The interior is tastefully trimmed in charcoal gray leather with polished wood and nickel accents. The polished aluminum and oak dashboard sports an array of useful gauges, from oil pressure to a double Elliott Brothers’ speedo and trip odometer. The massive steering wheel features controls for the ignition timing and throttle, while the shifter and hand brake (which acts on drums at the rear wheels) are located outside the car to the driver’s right. As with the exterior, there are virtually no flaws, no marks, and no wear to any of the components.
Powered by its original 7.2-liter inline six cylinder engine making 48 horsepower, 60970 is a fantastic runner. Fully restored and rebuilt, the engine more than lives up to its reputation for silent operation and effortless performance. Thanks to the sport chassis and original subframe-mounted 4-speed gearbox with overdrive, it is a spirited performer and can easily accelerate from barely more than a crawl to top speed in high gear. Cast in two blocks of three cylinders each, the Rolls-Royce six-cylinder engine remained in production for nearly 20 years, and even at the end of its life, remained a viable and competitive power plant. All components are in 100% functional condition and have been completely restored to as-new condition. Full undertrays are fitted, and the car wears 895x135 beaded edge tires on the original Warland Dual Rim wood spoke wheels. A 12-volt starting system has been added, as well as an air pressure type fuel system, making this a reliable, powerful, brass-era tourer that will be the star of any event.
Silver Ghosts of this caliber are seldom offered on the open market. With the number of body swaps, recreations, and other less authentic Ghosts available, chassis 60970 represents a unique opportunity. This is the only short-wheelbase sport chassis Silver Ghost in existence, and it carries a correct Roi des Belges body that matches its original specification. Restored to extremely high standards, this car remains competitive at the highest levels, and is gladly welcomed at any show or driving event in the world. Few automobiles are more highly prized than early Silver Ghosts, and it’s easy to understand why their owners are so passionate about them. With uncompromising quality, sparkling performance, and a fascinating story to tell, this short wheelbase sport chassis Silver Ghost is unique among its peers.
Its only equal may very well be the most valuable car in the world.
Special thanks to our friends for supplying additional photographs of this spectacular Rolls-Royce at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.