Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost from 1922, 7428 cc, 50 HP, max. speed 135 km/h
The Silver Ghost
In 1907 Claude Johnson, commercial and managing director of Rolls-Royce, ordered a car to be used as a demonstrator by the company. With chassis no. 60551 and registered AX 201, it was the 12th 40/50 hp to be made, and was painted in aluminium paint with silver-plated fittings.
The car was named the “Silver Ghost” to emphasise its ghost-like quietness, and a plaque bearing this name adorned the bulkhead. An open-top Roi-des-Belges body by coachbuilder Barker was fitted, and the car readied for the Scottish reliability trials of 1907 and, immediately afterwards, another 15,000-mile (24,000 km) test which included driving between London and Glasgow 27 times.
The aim was to raise public awareness of the new company and to show the reliability and quietness of their new car. This was a risky idea: cars of this time were notoriously unreliable, and roads of the day could be horrendous. Nevertheless, the car set off on trials, and with press aboard, broke various records. Even after 7,000 miles (11,000 km), the cost to service the car was a negligible £2 2s 7d (£2.13). The reputation of the 40/50, and Rolls-Royce, was established.
AX201 was sold in 1908 to a private customer, who used it for his annual holiday to Italy, and recovered by the company in 1948. Since then, it has been used as a publicity car and travelled worldwide. In 1991, the car was restored.
In 2005 it was noted to be the world’s most valuable car, its insured value was placed at US$35 million.
After the 1998 sale of Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd the car passed into the ownership of Bentley Motors.