1923 Rolls-Royce 40/50 H.P.

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1923
  • Chassis number 
    112 JH
  • Lot number 
    578
  • Drive 
    LHD
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Number of seats 
    2
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other
  • Drivetrain 
    2wd
  • Fuel type 
    Petrol

Description

1923 Rolls Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost 'Salamanca'
Coachwork by Rolls-Royce Custom Coachwork by New Haven Carriage Co.
Registration no. TJ 1922
Chassis no. 112 JH

Claude Johnson was to be Chairman of Rolls-Royce's American operation based at Springfield, Massachusetts, and from the outset it was abundantly clear that the traditions of excellence established in England would be maintained in America. At this time Rolls-Royce had a one model policy and the first cars to be built at Springfield were the 7.4-litre, 40/50hp Silver Ghost, quaintly adopting the British right-hand drive layout ? a feature maintained until 1925 when left-hand drive became available. The Silver Ghost had already earned for Rolls-Royce the accolade, 'The Best Car in the World', and the Springfield cars certainly maintained that reputation for the company.

There is no coachwork more versatile than the Salamanca style as carried by '112JH', so much favoured in the variable climate of North America. This example was built by New Haven (body number 'NH716') on behalf of Rolls-Royce Special Coachwork. When asked if he was going to produce a buggy, the designer of the body at Newhaven remarked that in the true European style he would produce a gentleman's carriage.

The Salamanca can be driven in the winter months in its fully enclosed limousine form with division to chauffeur's compartment; in the open-front sedanca-de-ville configuration; or in the open-rear landaulette configuration. For full open-air motoring, the car folds down completely as a convertible, the centre pillars folding inwards and the division dropping down into the coachwork.

'112JH' was built in Springfield in 1923; early owners recorded included Dr E R Campbell of Pasadena, California in 1924 and Henry McDonald of New York City in 1927. By 1948, the car was in South African ownership, belonging to J Little of Cape Town, and was later acquired by J Hoets who took the car in settlement of a debt, planning to use the engine in a boat. A later owner, E G 'Bunny' Staples, records that Hoets could not bring himself to 'do this dreadful deed'. Staples acquired the car in 1955 and commenced restoration, culminating in '112JH' being the Outright Winner of the 1955 National Rally, Class Winner in 1956, and 1st at the 1960 National Rally. In recent times the current owner has had the good fortune to have records of the Ghost sent to him from a past owner in South Africa.

In 1969, the car passed to Gill Tunmer of Johannesburg, and in 1977 was sold twice at auction, the second time, at Donington, England, achieving what was then believed to be the world record price for a Springfield Ghost of £38,000. It then returned to the USA and came back to England in 1999. The first of its UK owners used the car for touring, fitting a discreet modern air-conditioning unit to the rear for the comfort of his wife on tours to Southern France. The air conditioner is still in place but the electrics are disconnected at the moment. It is believed to be in working order. Other sensible modifications include a modern oil filter installation, stainless steel exhaust, and purpose-made glass side windows for the front 'open-drive' compartment (the original canvas and Perspex side screens have been retained).

The current vendor purchased '112JH' in 2009. Early driving showed there were problems with the new clutch and it was removed, relined, and refitted again. Later on a valve burnt out, and so all the valves and valve springs were replaced by the highly respected marque specialists P&A Wood (details available). The car has had regular servicing; few spares have been required but are available, the R-REC being very helpful.

'112JH' is liveried in dark blue with black wings and the coachwork furnished with black leather to the chauffeur's compartment and grey cloth to the rear. Fittings include two occasional fold-up seats in the rear compartment, chauffeur's speaking tube, two flower vases, wind-down rear windows, and blue leather-bound carpets to the rear. Driving equipment includes American-style 'drum' headlamps with tinted lenses, twin side-mounted spare wheels, leather gaiters to the springs, an under-bonnet klaxon, Cicca tenor horn, and a metal rear trunk, the latter now modified for stowage of side screens. Fittings throughout are nickel-plated. The vendor has recovered the matching set of suitcases from a previous owner, and these now come with the car. However, it should be noted that with the side screens stowed in the trunk the cases are a few inches too big to fit in. The cases are nice addition but are in need of renovation.

Since 2011, the Silver Ghost has been toured extensively including trips abroad, and has participated in various celebratory events such as 'The Centenary of the Flying Lady'; '100 years of Rolls-Royce'; and the R-REC Celebrations at Windsor Castle. In 2016, it was exhibited in Lord March's garage at the Goodwood Revival meeting. It also led the New Year's Day parade in London in 2017 carrying His Excellency the High Commissioner for Pakistan.

'112JH' is well known in Rolls-Royce circles worldwide, having appeared in many publications, and is featured in Edward Eves' well-known work, 'Rolls-Royce ? 80 Years of Motoring Excellence' (page 163). It comes with documentation recording its history including copy factory records, old tax discs, invoices, copy press articles, V5C registration document, old V5 document, and past MoT certificates. It also comes with the previous owner's service notes recording careful maintenance from 2003 to 2008.

There are few Vintage motor cars that cater so well for all motoring preferences; '112JH' certainly does that in spades, combining the effortless and ultra-reliable motoring offered by the Silver Ghost model with the Salamanca body constructed by New Haven to its first owner's demanding specification in 1923.