1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Sedanca de Ville Coachwork by Hooper & Co Registration no. XYJ 402 Chassis no. ALW47 Engine no. L46A
The last word in motoring luxury in its day, this automatic-transmission Silver Wraith on the long-wheelbase chassis has the 4½-litre engine introduced in 1952. Chassis number 'ALW47' was completed with sedanca de ville coachwork by Hooper & Co, London-based carriage makers to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII and arguably the finest of all British coachbuilders. Perhaps Hooper's most elegant post-war sedanca de ville, it is featured and illustrated in 'Rolls-Royce: The Classic Elegance' by Lawrence Dalton (page 109).
One of 639 Silver Wraiths built on the long-wheelbase chassis, 'ALW47' was ordered in 1953 by Nubar Gulbenkian. Armenian born Gulbenkian was a very colourful character, described as a flamboyantly bearded and monocled devotee of fox hunts, orchids and Rolls-Royces. He is understood to have kept a suite all year round in Piccadilly's famous Ritz Hotel giving him swift access to the exciting nightlife in West London. His shrewd and successful family's vast wealth had been accumulated in the oil business and Nubar was not shy when it came to spending his fortune. He had a passion for Rolls-Royces, in particular Silver Wraiths bodied by his preferred coachbuilder, Hooper. Gulbenkian is understood to have had four Silver Wraiths commissioned and bodied by Hooper, including a Perspex top saloon and an open tourer.
'ALW47' is perhaps the most balanced and stylish Silver Wraith that Gulbenkian had created, with Hooper's 'Empress Line' coachwork sitting particularly well on the long wheelbase chassis. This unique motor car comes with a range of interesting features that should come as no surprise judging by Gulbenkian's character. The driver's compartment is trimmed in grey leather and can be easily adapted for open driving using the original coach key which is supplied with the car. One smooth turn of the key releases the back section of the roof, revealing a compartment for the sedanca style roof to slide into once released from the clasps that sit above the windscreen. It is a very simple yet ingenious design and way ahead of its time.
The rear compartment is fitted with large and luxurious reclining seats trimmed in West of England cloth for added comfort. An electric division, electric windows and air conditioning were also specified when 'ALW47' was built, and are all still in perfect working order. The dashboard, door fillets, window frames and rear division rail are trimmed outlandishly in snakeskin, which is believed to be python. Gulbenkian is known to have liked his chauffeurs to drive in a brisk style, and had a speedometer fitted to the rear division rail so he could keep an eye on his employee's progress. The rear compartment speedometer is complemented by a time clock, which is a consistent feature in all of Gulbenkian's Silver Wraiths.
This stylish and interesting motor car was first acquired by Frank Dale & Stepsons many years ago before becoming part of James Crickmay's personal collection in recent years. Checked, prepared and tested by Frank Dale & Stepsons immediately prior to sale, the car is offered with a UK V5C registration document and fresh MoT certificate.
James used the Silver Wraith regularly for social occasions, family events and the Rolls-Royce annual rally on many occasions, and it was also loaned by James to Lord March for several Goodwood Revival meetings, to chauffeur Lord March's guests between the circuit and Goodwood House.