2019 Shannons Sydney Winter Classic Auction

1920 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Brougham De Ville

$160,000 - $200,000


Engine In-line six-cylinder, 7036cc
Gearbox 4-speed Manual
Engine No. J204
Chassis No. 62CW
Body Work Brougham de Ville
Colour Burgundy & Black
Interior Black & Grey
Trim Leather
Wheels Steel Discs
Brakes Drums

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Although not the first Rolls-Royce model, the landmark 40/50 horsepower, better known as the Silver Ghost, introduced in 1906 was certainly the first to become a commercial success for the famous marque, earning the accolade of ‘The Best Car in the World’.  A combination of superb engineering, materials of the finest quality and unsurpassed production techniques ensured that every Silver Ghost was a machine of the highest calibre.  Debuting at the 1906 Olympia Motor Show, the 40/50 Rolls-Royce employed a powerful six-cylinder engine made up of two cylinder blocks with a common crankshaft, with a modern pressure lubrication system and twin ignition.  Shaft-drive transmission was chosen over chain, with cable-operated brakes operating on the rear wheels and a pedal-operated transmission brake.  The Silver Ghost underwent almost constant refinement, with numerous improvements carried out over the course of decades-long production life.  The engine was enlarged to 7.4-litres by raising the stroke from 114.3mm to 120.7mm, while three-quarter elliptics were employed from 1908, followed by cantilever rear springs from 1913 onwards. Post Armistice cars benefited from self-starters and the adoption of an Autovac for fuel pressure, while front-wheel brakes were only found on the last few cars to leave the factory before the New Phantom arrived.  Coachwork from the finest British and Continental coachbuilders graced the Silver Ghosts, ranging from heavy formal bodies to lightweight tourers.  The model also proved its worth during the Great War, both as an ambulance and even an armoured car, serving with distinction in the Middle East and African theatres.  With the American market proving increasingly lucrative, Rolls-Royce even established a factory in Springfield, Massachusetts to produce left-hand drive chassis.  Although identical to those made in England in principle, Springfield Ghosts were distinguished by their centre-lock wire-wheels, three-speed centre-change transmission and other details, including the electrics.  Between 1906 and 1924, Rolls-Royce constructed 6173 Silver Ghosts with a further 1703 built in America, and a remarkably high percentage of these not only survive but remain on the road, testimony to the brilliance of Sir Henry Royce’s original design.  Thanks to its reliability, the Silver Ghost found a ready market in Australia, with local agents Kellow-Falkiners supplying many wealthy farmers with Colonial models specially adapted with greater ground clearance, stiffer springs and a larger radiator to cope with local conditions.


  • Outstanding Silver Ghost with fabulous history
  • Hand-crafted Brougham de Ville coachwork
  • Offered from the family of the Late George Williams
Off test in April 1920 and a short chassis ‘speed model’ according to Tom Clarke and David Neely’s invaluable reference book “Rolls-Royce and Bentley in the Sunburnt Country”, chassis 62CW is shown as originally having an open tourer body by Gill.  According to Ian Irwin’s detailed history of the car in “Silver Ghosts of Australia and New Zealand: Cameo Histories of the Post-War Cars”, the first owner of 62CW was Sir Thomas Sopwith, founder of the famous Sopwith Aviation & Engineering Company, a serial Rolls-Royce customer.  Arriving in Australia circa 1924, the car was registered to J F Rofe of Sydney some three years later (as a limousine on NSW plates ‘87’) before passing to undertakers N Larcombe & Sons of Dubbo, NSW by the mid-1930s who transformed the car into a rather magnificent hearse.  The next owner was Sir Daryl Lindsay of the famous artistic family, who bought the Rolls-Royce circa 1962.  The current owner’s father, esteemed restorer and coachbuilder George Williams, purchased the car from Lindsay back in April 1967 for the princely sum of $800.00, reportedly with only 37,000 original miles on the clock complete with a full set of original tools, the original side and head lamps and ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ mascot.  Williams spent a number of years (Irwin records over 5,000 hours!) restoring it with the help of A E “Bert” Ward, at the time the oldest living Rolls-Royce indentured mechanical apprentice.  The formal coachwork was modelled on Claude Johnson’s personal Ghost 10LW, a Brougham de Ville by esteemed coachbuilder Barker, a car that no longer survives.  Notable features include the 64-piece tool kit housed within the running boards, Lucas “King of the Road” lamps and boa horn.  Inside the rear compartment the mahogany cabinetry has been finished to the highest standard, complete with crystal decanters and glasses, while the rear trunk contains fitted luggage beautifully lined in silk.  All the interior fittings, upholstery and materials are of the highest possible quality and imported by Williams from England at the time.  Back on the road by 1975, the Rolls-Royce successfully completed a number of long distance tours and Ian Irwin notes “It cruised comfortably around 55 to 60 mph and reached 65 mph with ease…”.  The Ghost has remained in the same family for the better part of half a century - nearly half its life - and has developed a lovely patina of age over the years.  Sold unregistered and supplied with an original Parts Catalogue, Instruction book and Operator’s handbook, this significant motor car awaits its fortunate new owners and the next chapter in a remarkable life. 
Note: Shannons advise that all potential buyers research all vehicles before purchase to authenticate originality.

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Monday 26 August

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