Classic Van Auction Talk

Friday 5 July 2019

1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost 'London-to-Edinburgh' Tour - BONHAMS AUCTIONS Goodwood Festival of Speed Friday 5th July 2019


Goodwood Festival of Speed
Friday 5th July 2019
Goodwood Circuit, Chichester

Originally owned by Mrs W K Vanderbilt

1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost
 'London-to-Edinburgh' Tourer
Coachwork by Alpine Eagle

Registration no. XH 48
Chassis no. 48CE
*Derby-built Silver Ghost

*Delivered new to the USA
*Rebuilt in the late 1990s
*Engine rebuild in December 2017


  • This magnificent Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, number '48CE', was built at Rolls-Royce's Factory in Derby and shipped, presumably as a rolling chassis, to the company's United States subsidiary, Rolls-Royce of America Inc. The car left the UK aboard the SS Carmania on 23rd March 1921 bound for New York. Files compiled by Rolls-Royce's US importer, J S Inskip, indicate that it was intended for sale to J W Hubbard of Pittsburgh, Pa. The card is marked 'cancellation'. The Silver Ghost was eventually completed with Town CoupĂ© coachwork by Locke and delivered to Mrs W K Vanderbilt of Fifth Avenue, New York City on 2nd August 1921. Mrs Vanderbilt was the wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), a motor racing enthusiast and yachtsman, and member of the prominent Vanderbilt family. The Rolls-Royce was serviced by the Long Island and Palm Beach maintenance depots during Mrs Vanderbilt's ownership.

    Nothing is known of the Ghost's subsequent history prior to 1957 when it was purchased by William D (Bill) Small of St Louis from a farmer named Vincent Ogle. The car was nicknamed 'The Togle', a play on the preceding owner's name. Vincent Ogle had been using the Rolls-Royce as a pickup truck on his farm in Illinois. The original town car body had been cut off just behind the driver's seat and made into a crude flatbed truck. The Ghost was moved to St Louis and again sat for many years in storage.

    In 1969, Bill moved to Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. Prior to the move, the Rolls-Royce was advertised for sale, becoming embroiled in a lengthy lawsuit that would not be resolved until 1977. Eventually, it was decided to build a proper body for the Rolls-Royce; a shooting brake was chosen and constructed using white oak. When Bill Small died in February 1984, the body rebuild stopped and 'The Togle' did not move until 1995 when it was started by Bill's son, Caleb, in preparation for sale.

    Having changed hands for the first time in almost 40 years, the Rolls-Royce was despatched to the UK for restoration. A new sporting 'London-to-Edinburgh' open touring body was supplied by Alpine Eagle Ltd, and the entire car restored by Rolls-Royce specialist, Jonathan Harley. This restoration work was carried out for a UK-based specialist dealer on behalf of their client, a noted collector based in California.

    In 2008 the Ghost was bought by its previous owner, Bryan Richmond-Dodd, and returned to the UK where its care and maintenance was assigned to Ghost specialist, A J Glew Ltd. In 2010, A J Glew fitted new shock absorbers and a new crown wheel/pinion assembly; repaired the magneto; and fitted a taller windscreen

    Since 2016, the current owner has used the services and workshop of the National Motor Museum, whose work has included driver tuition for the owner's chauffeur! Running well, as witnessed by Bonhams on a recent test drive, maintenance works have included fitting a replacement cylinder block (via a specialist), engine rebuild, tune and test (December 2017). A unique example with a fascinating history, this much-travelled Silver Ghost is offered with a V5C registration document and a history file containing copies of the original order form, chassis cards, etc. Bonhams would like to thank the Rolls-Royce Foundation for their help in the preparation of this description.

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