1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi des Belges in the style of Barker
Sold For $1,325,000Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
Lot Location: St. Louis, Missouri
RM | Sotheby's - THE GUYTON COLLECTION 4 - 5 MAY 2019
- Offered on Saturday
- Original chassis and engine, with exacting period-correct coachwork
- Restored by noted Silver Ghost authority, Jonathan Harley
- Formerly owned by Rick Carroll, Bill Lassiter, and Richard Solove
- Winner of the Charles A. Chayne Trophy, 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- A veteran of concours exhibition and extended touring
- One of the most beautiful “parallel bonnet” Silver Ghosts available
CHASSIS NUMBER 1203
This Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost was ordered by Thornton & Schieber, Ltd., and was originally delivered with a seven-passenger landaulette body by Hooper. Early editions of John Fasal’s respected The Edwardian Rolls-Royce include a note that the car was dismantled, and its engine fitted in a motor launch, but this has since been disproven and Mr. Fasal now notes that the car remained intact. It passed to A. Hutton of Surrey, in 1922, and to Noel Armitage in 1935.
Following World War II, in 1946, chassis no. 1203 was discovered with a saloon body in a scrapyard known as “Cow Roast” at Tring. It enjoyed several further UK owners, the last of whom, noted early Silver Ghost enthusiasts M.R. and D.W. Neale of Worcestershire, acquired it in 1957 and fitted a tourer body the following year. This, in turn, was replaced by the present Jarvis-built Roi des Belges in 1972.
The current body was crafted in the exacting fashion of the original Barker body produced for chassis no. 60551, the original “Silver Ghost” of Claude Johnson, that had given the model its enduring nickname. The body was finished in a rich silver, with a polished aluminum engine cover and all brightwork in nickel plate. Bleriot “bullseye” headlamps, Lucas no. 644 oil side lamps with etched “starburst” side lenses and “bullseye” front lenses, Lucas oil taillamps, Rotax rear-view mirrors, and a single Elliott speedometer and Smiths eight-day clock completed the ensemble along with an Autovox horn and fender-mounted “boa constrictor” horn. A most interesting distinguishing feature was the R.A.C. radiator cap – correctly chosen, as the construction of this car pre-dated the design of the famous “Spirit of Ecstasy.” The interior was finished in green leather.
In this form the Rolls was sold in 1973 to Dr. Joseph M. Levin of Ohio, its first American owner, who in turn sold it in 1985 to renowned American Silver Ghost enthusiast Rick Carroll of Jensen Beach, Florida. The car was a favorite in the Carroll collection for many years, alongside several other significant Ghosts. Following his untimely passing, it was sold by his family in 1993 to his friend and fellow enthusiast, Bill Lassiter of Palm Beach.
The car was acquired from Mr. Lassiter’s collection in 1999 by UK enthusiast Sydney Cooper. It was brought back to England and freshly restored by the respected specialist Jonathan Harley, who finished many of the best surviving “parallel bonnet” Ghosts. As part of this work, the car was fitted with an electric starter for ease of operation, and an Auster windshield for rear seat passengers. Mr. Cooper drove the car some 8,000 reliable miles over the next four years, mainly in Southern Ireland, including 2,000 miles in a single jaunt with his family.
In 2003, chassis no. 1203 became one of the final Silver Ghosts in the important American collection of Richard Solove, known for owning a Ghost from every pre-World War I production year. Mr. Solove proudly displayed the car at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2004, winning the Charles A. Chayne Trophy, and at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2005, winning the Millard Newman Award.
The majority of the Solove collection joined yet another prominent Silver Ghost stable, that of John M. O’Quinn, in 2007. Following Mr. O’Quinn’s passing, the Silver Ghost found a long-term home in the collection of Fred F. Guyton, whose friends recall his joy at acquiring a model that he had long sought but had never been able to purchase. It has been preserved in the Guyton museum for eight years, seldom shown but always appreciated and enjoyed, and exhibited in a position of prominence among the collection’s other Brass Era marvels. Its restoration is well kept, and it would likely require little more than detailing and mechanical sorting to continue its career as a robust tour car.
It is truly a Silver Ghost of near-peerless heritage among noted collectors, Fred F. Guyton not least among them.