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|Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith James Young Body|
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|Chassis number WHD 29 was delivered to the premises of Rolls-Royce at Lillie Hall, Seagrave Road, Fulham on 28th February 1950, then on to the coachbuilder James Young in London Road, Bromley where body number 1750, in design WR18, was fitted to the chassis the and on 23rd November 1950 the complete car was delivered, under the registration number LXB 287, to its first owner George Formby O.B.E.|
By the 1930’s, George was Britain’s biggest celebrity making records and films – between 1933 and 1946, he made no less than 20 films. This was earning him £100,000 a year when a family doctor earned around £1,000 a year and it delivered all the material possessions - yachts, houses, racehorses and of course, motor cars.
Always in the background, was Beryl and the yachts were all called Lady Beryl and the delivery note for this lovely Silver Wraith shows the address in Fairhaven near Blackpool with the house name “Beryldene”. Over the years, George and Beryl owned no less than 26 Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars. By comparison, Edward, Prince of Wales, owned just 11 cars from these marques.
In 1952, the car was sold to a Midlands confectioner, John Steventon – there are wonderful contemporary photographs in the history file that record Mr Steventon’s stewardship of the car. The registration changed to a personal number – JHS 1 – and in fact Mr Steventon owned JHS 2 and JHS 3 which variously adorned a Mark X Jaguar, a Pink Pontiac and a Triumph Herald – all faithfully photographed.
On Mr Steventon’s demise in 1970, the car was sold to a Mr Polochez, a Company Director of Hall Green in Birmingham. The registration numbers taking the showbiz route to Mr JH Saltzmann, the movie producer responsible James Bond films and the 1968 film, Battle of Britain.
In 1972, an enthusiastic young stockbroker, advised by a Rolls-Royce owning friend that he hadn’t made it until he owned a Rolls-Royce, acquired WHD 29 for the princely sum of £3,400 – his total annual bonus. But “he had made it” in every way.
Wholly unaware of the provenance of the car, he decided, in 1989, to undertake a thorough restoration of the car and, at the same time, dig into the history of the car through the services of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club (R-REC).
He was delighted to find that the first owner had been a childhood hero but had a major wobble when he realized just how much the thorough restoration of his beloved Rolls- Royce was costing.
The total costs exceeded £80,000 but it is an investment that has seen rewards in Concours events with R-REC and happiness in its use at many weddings where it has always proved a hit.
Maintained continually by Rolls-Royce specialists since the restoration, the last invoice on file was in June 2011 from Jack Barclay and its £5,000 total is reflective of this owner’s continued cherished view of his Rolls-Royce.
After nearly 40 years of ownership, the owner has decided that perhaps it is time to retire his driving gloves and entrust the stewardship of this lovely car to someone new.
A hugely detailed restoration with subsequent thorough maintenance should be enough for a collector – but the knowledge that the first owner was one of Britain’s best loved entertainers in the twentieth century can only add to its appeal, and its value
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