Lot 176

1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Pall Mall Tourer by Merrimac

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$297,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

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Chassis No.
395 XH
Documents
US Title
  • A versatile Silver Ghost with a much-sought-after body style finished in striking colors
  • Ideal for touring in CCCA, RROC, RREC, and Silver Ghost Association events
  • One of just 179 examples produced upon a Springfield Silver Ghost chassis
  • Documented by its Rolls-Royce order card
  • Formerly part of the S. Prestley Blake Collection of Springfield-built Rolls-Royce cars

As with the cars built at Derby, most of the American Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts produced in Springfield, Massachusetts, carried closed coachwork that was heavy and formal, albeit beautifully constructed and finely detailed. Sporting open bodies for the Silver Ghost were rare indeed, but they did exist, most prominently the Pall Mall tourer coachwork provided by the local Massachusetts firm Merrimac under the “Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work” label. The American coachwork was frequently distinguishable from its British counterparts, being visually lighter, less formal, and more suited to use by owner-operators. Moreover, many of the American components were actually better than those available in the UK, and the Springfield-built Rolls-Royces soon featured American-made Bosch magnetos and coil ignition, Bijur generators and starters, as well as American-made wire wheels.

In particular, the Pall Mall tourer design is highlighted by a sharp and angular front, which segues into a gentler, rounder cabin featuring rear seating somewhat elevated, via raised floor, above the forward driving position. Also notable is the all-weather canopy which—when not in use—collapses in a conventional “accordion” style upon the rear bulkhead with its exposed and highly polished ribs gleaming between the folds of fabric.

The Silver Ghost chassis is already a rather tall one, and Merrimac’s styling for this design makes the completed car appear even taller than most, thereby adding an imposing edge to an overall oeuvre which is altogether dignified, airy, and quite appealing. Just 179 Springfield-built Silver Ghosts were fitted with this charming body style between 1921 and 1926.

THE MILLERS’ PALL MALL

This extraordinary example, chassis 395 XH, was originally delivered to Mrs. J.B. Miller of Houston, Texas, and fitted, from new, with the same Pall Mall Tourer coachwork by Merrimac which it wears today. Like their Crewe-built brethren, Springfield Silver Ghosts such as 395 XH were powered by the formidable 7.5-liter, straight six-cylinder engine which by 1923 had been improved to 80 horsepower.

By the 1980s it had been retained by a collector in Michigan. It subsequently passed to the esteemed pre-war Rolls-Royce collector S. Prestley Blake of Somers, Connecticut, who later commissioned a complete restoration from marque specialist Bob Jefferson which was completed around 2004. The founder of Friendly’s Ice Cream, Mr. Blake was a legendary figure in the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, who owned and enjoyed almost all of the company’s models over six decades of enthusiastic collecting.

It was then sold onward in its freshly restored state to yet more eminent collectors of fine and early Rolls-Royce examples, Cornelis and Mary Frances Wentges of Naples, Florida. With Cornelis’ passing in June 2006, Mary Frances subsequently sold this Pall Mall Tourer to another local enthusiast in March 2007. It remained with this previous owner until June 2021, and is presented today still wearing its Jefferson-executed restoration, which is very tidy and has evidently been quite nicely kept. The car’s polychrome blue exterior and matching wire wheels provide a striking and beautiful contrast to the pleated black leather interior and fabric top.

Additionally, 395 XH has been discreetly updated with a professionally installed Gear Vendors overdrive unit, allowing for effortless, all-day cruising at highway speeds. This upgrade means that the car would be a perfect means of conveyance for long-distance touring in Silver Ghost Association, RROC, and RREC events. At present, the odometer indicates that 395 XH has traveled fewer than 870 miles since emerging from its restoration some 15 years ago.

Relatively few Pall Mall tourers survive on the Springfield Silver Ghost chassis, and fewer still have been so lovingly and carefully maintained by only a handful of owners. This is one of those cars, and it would be a superb addition to any Full Classic Rolls-Royce stable.