Lot 446

Hershey 2023

1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi des Belges in the style of Barker


$698,500 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



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  • A rare and extremely desirable “parallel bonnet” Silver Ghost
  • Wears an exquisite Roi des Belges body intricately crafted in the style of Barker
  • Wonderfully detailed appointments, including a rare Elliott Brothers speedometer/odometer and Tiffany & Co. clock inside, as well as Lucas “King of the Road” cowl lamps
  • Documented in The Edwardian Rolls-Royce and accompanied by build sheet copy
  • A magnificent representation of “the best car in the world,” well-suited to exhibition and touring

Formally established in 1906, it is remarkable how quickly Rolls-Royce Limited gained a reputation for superlatively built cars—and how readily the Rolls-Royce name was adopted as a byword for quality in other consumer goods, from motorcycles to home appliances. This enduring legacy was built on the Silver Ghost, which debuted in 1906 and was officially designated the 40/50 HP in reference to the output of its quiet-running 7,036-cubic-centimeter side-valve inline-six.

Carefully engineered and overbuilt by design, the Silver Ghost was soon judged by the contemporary motoring press to be “the best car in the world.” The 40/50 HP quickly proved itself on rallies and endurance runs of all lengths and around the globe; as further evidence of their robustness, Silver Ghosts would serve with distinction during World War I, when many were converted into armored cars.

This Rolls-Royce, chassis number 1175, was built with a much more genteel purpose in mind. As noted in the original build sheet (a copy of which is on file) and confirmed in The Edwardian Rolls-Royce by John Fasal and‎ Bryan Goodman, this Silver Ghost was ordered by an H. Trimmer of Twyford, Hampshire, England in August 1909; Rolls-Royce completed the chassis prior to the end of the year. Fitment of an imposing, Barker-built Landaulet took a bit longer, however, and Mr. Trimmer would not take delivery of the finished car until February 1910.

Although much of this dignified car’s subsequent history is presently unknown, the Silver Ghost passed through two additional recorded English owners by the early 1950s, after which it was exported to the United States. It then disappeared from the public eye, remaining out of sight for decades.

In 2017, chassis 1175 was acquired by the consignor, sans bodywork, from Steve Littin—proprietor of Vintage & Auto Rebuilds of Chardon, Ohio, and an internationally recognized authority on early Rolls-Royces. The car’s new owner, a businessman, restorer, and vintage motorcar enthusiast well-known on the West Coast, clearly recognized the potential of this rare Silver Ghost. With nearly a dozen Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance showings under his belt, he also recognized that any new body constructed for it would need to be both stylish and executed to the highest standards.

After consulting Littin’s archives of vintage drawings and photographs, he selected another elegant Barker design, one worthy of this mighty chassis: The famous “Roi des Belges” phaeton.


Initially fitted to a Panhard et Levassor owned by Leopold II, King of Belgium at the turn of the 20th century, the so-called “Roi des Belges” body style was eventually adopted by a number of coachbuilders and adapted for a range of fine chassis. But the design, sometimes called the “tulip phaeton” on account of its curved seats, was particularly well-suited to the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Indeed, the design is today perhaps most closely associated with the 40/50 HP by modern enthusiasts.

The majority of this Silver Ghost’s restoration, including the construction of the bodywork and belly pans, was handled by the consignor’s extremely capable in-house shop. Photos on file show the intricate wooden body framework, as well as the hand-formed metal bodywork with the Roi des Belges’ signature tulip curves; once fitted to the body, this was finished in a handsome slate gray, with the hood and cowl left in striking polished aluminum—all the better to highlight the “parallel bonnet” configuration characteristic of early Silver Ghosts. Much of the machine work and the sourcing of correct parts was performed by Vintage & Auto Rebuilds, with other Rolls-Royce suppliers and specialists enlisted as needed. The car’s Lucas lamps were purchased from UK-based supplier Genius of the Lamp.

Following the completion of the restoration in 2021, the reborn Silver Ghost was shown at the 2022 Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club meet in San Diego, California, where it was met with acclaim. It is not difficult to see why: Massive in size yet elegant in proportion, this car is also resplendent with details inside and out. In addition to its polished Lucas lamps, including “King of the Road” cowl units, the gleaming dashboard is equipped with a rare Elliott Brothers dual speedometer/odometer, as well as a Tiffany & Co. clock.

Now offered in beautiful, restored condition, and having seen limited exhibition and road use since its completion, this Roi des Belges in the style of Barker presents an exceptional opportunity for its next owner. Celebrated for its quality and elegance for well over a century, the Silver Ghost is as lustrous today as when it was first deemed the “best car in the world”—and this example will no doubt prove its worth on tours and excursions, no matter where it ventures.