1922 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Salamanca Town Car Coachwork by Willoughby Registration no. SV 9385 Chassis no. 111 BG Engine no. 20H252
'The Great Gatsby', F Scott Fitzgerald's best known novel, concerns the lives and doomed ambitions of a cast of characters drawn from the upper echelons of American society. Set in prosperous Long Island in the 1920s' 'Jazz Age', it also features some of that era's most exclusive and exotic motor cars. There have been numerous cinematic interpretations since the novel's publication in 1925, the most recent version, released in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCapricio. The car offered here though, featured prominently in the 1974 movie adaptation, which starred Robert Redford as the mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby. Although the story is set in Long Island, the movie was principally shot in and around Newport, Rhode Island.
Springfield-built Silver Ghost chassis number '111BG' was one of around 30-or-so cars invited to audition for parts in the movie. The first and original Salamanca body that is currently on chassis 111BG was crafted in 1927 by Willoughby & Co of Utica, New York State, a firm that always enjoyed the highest reputation among American coachbuilders. Willoughby's client list was impressive, including Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, the Rockefeller family, boxer Joe Louis, Mayor of New York James J Walker, and motor manufacturer Horace Dodge.
Reputedly delivered new to beer tycoon August Busch, its owner was E Andrew Mowbray, an avid collector of antiques and antique automobiles, including several Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. He was a long-time member of the USA's Rolls-Royce Owner's Club. In collaboration with Arthur Souter, Mowbray published 'The American Rolls-Royce; A Comprehensive History of Rolls-Royce in America' in 1976, in which the car is illustrated. A copy of the book is included with the lot.
Mr Mowbray's Rolls-Royce was selected by the Gatsby producers to be the car belonging to young socialite Daisy Buchanan (played by Mia Farrow), an 'old flame' of Gatsby's who is married to Tom Buchanan (Bruce Dern). Most of the cars chosen to participate in the movie were driven by their owners, and Mowbray himself duly featured as Daisy's chauffeur, even travelling with the Rolls-Royce to the UK to appear in scenes filmed at Pinewood Studios. His wife Penelope also appeared as an 'extra' in the famous party scene. A DVD of the film with the car on screen is also included.
The Mowbrays lived in Hearthside House, Lincoln, Rhode Island. Their residence, a museum since Mr Mowbray's death in 1996, hosted the 'Gatsby Revisited' event in 2013, celebrating the 40th anniversary of filming. By then, this Gatsby Ghost had completed the RREC and SGA organised 2003 Alpine Tour in celebration of the 40-50hp's success in the 1913 Austrian Alpine Trial (with the documents is a plaque engraved with '111BG' recording the car's event participation). In recent years, the car has been UK resident and registered, and was only acquired in 2014 by the vendor, whose ill health now sadly prevents him from able to drive it.
The previously repainted body is finished in green with black wings and has a demountable vinyl roof covering open drive front seats upholstered in black leather. The owners and guests quarters in the rear, supplemented by a pair of occasional seats, are trimmed in grey fabric. An RREC reprinted handbook for the 40/50hp is included, as is a V5C, and there is an invoice from earlier in the year on file recording re-commissioning and servicing work, including adjusting valve clearances, cleaning out the carburettor, changing the engine oil and greasing all points prior to a test drive.