1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Tourer by Hemmings
Amelia Island - A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
- Originally delivered to British automaker F.W. Berwick
- Long-term American ownership history
- Handsome proper tourer coachwork by noted Silver Ghost specialist David Hemmings
- Beautiful and correct cosmetic and mechanical restoration; wonderful presentation
- A veteran of numerous long-distance tours and rallies
Copies of the factory build records, acquired from the Rolls-Royce Foundation and the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club (Hunt House), depict that 40/50 HP “Silver Ghost” chassis number 35PB was commissioned by F.W. Berwick & Company of London, with delivery to their address at 18 Berkeley Street on 30 May 1914. The car was ordered as the 143½-inch wheelbase “Landaulet chassis,” with “sloping bonnet and dashboard,” Dunlop detachable wire wheels, and Lucas dynamometer, and with all of its trim in polished nickel. The original coachbuilder is not specifically noted, but historian John Faisal, in his book The Edwardian Rolls-Royce, identifies the first body as a landaulette by H.J. Mulliner, tested 4 April 1914, right on schedule for delivery to Mr. Berwick.
It is interesting to note that F.W. Berwick was the importer of the French Corre la Licorne automobile, and in 1913 had become a partner in the construction of the Sizaire-Berwick, a large luxury automobile produced in France but sold mainly in the United Kingdom. Some of the factory documentation for this Silver Ghost note the buyer as “Sizaire Berwick,” which along with the car’s delivery to a business address, indicates that Mr. Berwick may have been studying his competition.
Subsequent ownership is noted by Mr. Faisal as Mrs. Robert Glen of Glasgow, Scotland, followed by her husband, Captain Robert Glen, who owned the car in London in 1916. The car is believed to have then been among those exported to the United States by New York dealer R.W. Schuette, who made something of a specialty of bringing used Silver Ghosts “across the pond” during this period. Following ownership by a Mr. or Mrs. Davis, it was sold on 12 February 1925, to Llewellyn Williams of Brooklyn. By this time, it was wearing a more modern but rather ungainly coupe body, built by New York coachbuilder Locke, in lieu of the original Mulliner landaulet.
In June 1954, York Corporation of New York City wrote Rolls-Royce, requesting information to assist in the aid of the car’s return to England; Mr. Williams had given the car to a friend of his, E.M. Heap, who wished to take it back to England. Whether the Silver Ghost actually made it back across the Atlantic is not known, but if so it was a short sojourn, as in 1964 the car was purchased by Robert Knies of Greenville, New York, still carrying its Locke body.
Between 2000 and 2005, the car was completely restored for a new British owner by the noted Silver Ghost specialist David Hemmings, photographic documentation of which is on file. As part of this work, the engine was fully rebuilt; the rear axle disassembled, cleaned, repaired as necessary, and reassembled; the gearbox rebuilt, with all-new bearings; and, most prominently, this handsome new tourer body built and installed, using proper and correct original methods and materials. In this form, the car reportedly undertook a 1,500-mile tour from England to the South of France, and then back to England, as well as a 1,200-mile tour of Northern England and the Scottish Borders.
In 2005 the car returned to the United States, with its acquisition by the American Silver Ghost collector Michael Sierra. It then passed in 2011 to longtime Rolls-Royce Owners Club stalwart Frank Allocca, who submitted the car to Gaslight Auto Restoration of Stewartsville, New Jersey, for a complete bare-metal refinish in the current color scheme, in dove grey with black fenders, and correct button-tufted black leather upholstery under a black canvas top. In this form the car, having been thoroughly prepared, was acquired by Orin Smith, in whose noted collection it has remained since.
The car remains in thoroughly excellent, fresh condition throughout, and is very clean and largely authentic, with the presentation one would expect of a car owned by so many authorities of the marque. For instance, the fan belt under the bonnet is a proper linked belt, which is rarely seen even on the best Silver Ghost restorations. Accessories include correct C.A.V. headlamps and “diver’s bell” tail lamps, while the rear compartment is beautifully appointed with rich solid walnut cabinetry, containing a drinks cabinet and a pair of especially sturdy folding jump seats. The dashboard instruments are charming and era-correct, as is the proper “fishtail” exhaust fitted at the rear.
Overall, this well-known and much-loved car has a very authentic appearance, both inside and out, and would satisfy any Silver Ghost connoisseur on concours field or open road.