Arizona | Lot 229
1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Salamanca by Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work
The Calumet Collection
$235,200 USD | Sold
| Phoenix, Arizona
18 January 2019
- Offered from the Calumet Collection
- Fondly known as “The Bullet Hole”
- Formerly owned by Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, inspiration for Boardwalk Empire
- Still bearing a namesake bullet hole from one of Mr. Johnson’s lucky escapes
- Beautiful, detailed restoration with original chassis, engine, and body
- Accompanied by a full report from Rolls-Royce historian Diane Brandon
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Senior First winner with 100 points
Between the 1910s and 1941, gangster Enoch “Nucky” Johnson ruled Atlantic City. His political organization, backed by Al Capone and the like, took a cut of all the vices sold by the boardwalk, from casinos to brothels, earning the elegant racketeer a fabulous lifestyle. He daily wore a custom-grown carnation in his lapel and hosted a “who’s who” of Roaring Twenties celebrities in his suite in the Ritz-Carlton. Decades after his death, Johnson was immortalized in the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, in which he was memorably portrayed by Steve Buscemi.
This Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, an American-built “Springfield” model, chassis no. 301KG, was part of Johnson’s mystique. Fitted with an imposing, dramatic, and highly costly formal Salamanca body, it had originally been sold to New York banker Charles H. Sabin on 23 March 1923. Four years later it was acquired by “Nucky,” as is documented by the Rolls-Royce Foundation.
Subsequent owners to Johnson were Anthony and Muriel Rose of New York, who acquired the car in 1958 and kept it for nearly three decades. In 1987 it was purchased by Theresa G. George, then in 1991 passed to Ernest Bonati before finally leaving the Empire State later that decade. Later owners included Terence J. and Barbara Gooding of California, before the Calumet Collection acquired the car in 2013. The following year it was proudly exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, completing the Tour d’Elegance (including a lap at Laguna Seca), as is documented by an accompanying video.
The car is finished in dark red and garnet, with part of the aluminum coachwork left unpainted and polished to a beautiful mirror-like contrast, accentuated by a folding black leather top and hinged window frames, a signature of the Salamanca design. Plating is correct nickel finish throughout, and the engine compartment and chassis are both very tidy and correct, including the proper linked fan belt. Within the rear passenger compartment is an oasis of luxury, with tufted deep scarlet cloth upholstery, accent pillows, and silk assist loops. The car is offered with complete sets of road and hand tools, including the rare spare bulb holder, as well as an original owner’s handbook and assorted owner and historical documentation.
Few cars can boast the fascinating story and provenance of “The Bullet Hole,” one of the stars of the Calumet Collection.