Bonhams held its 2009 Rolls-Royce and Bentley Cars sale at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club Annual Rally at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire on Saturday, June 13th.
Top seller on the day was lot 219 a 1912 Rolls-Royce, 40/50hp Silver Ghost, Roi-de-Belges Tourer which sold for £331,500. The car had languished for years in a chicken shed before being rebuilt from the ground up. This car was followed in the top ten by three Bentleys, lots 220 (1935 3.5-litre Drophead Coupe), 215 (1963 S3 Continental Convertible) and 218 (1936 4¼–Litre Sports Saloon) which sold for £68,600, £63,100 and £47,700, respectively.
The sale total of £1.25 milliion includes lot 212, a 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost which sold privately just before the sale at an event that accelerated away as smoothly as the cars being sold are renowned for doing discreetly.
James Knight, International MD of Collectors Cars at Bonhams said after the sale; “Once more, our UK division have delivered fantastic statistics. Another sale where over 90% of the cars offered found new homes. We ended up with only three unsold out of 33 offered. Pre-war cars, such as the Ghosts, Phantoms, 20HPs, 20/25HPs and Derby Bentleys all had good depth of bidding – I still had six people bidding beyond top estimate for the 20HP Limousine. Post-war cars need to be priced encouragingly to attract interest and that’s what we managed to do. It is worth mentioning that our Automobilia department had a near sell-out with 93% by lot and 97% by value sold”.
He said the result was in contrast to recent car sales that other houses had conducted in the UK, “I suppose the difference is the whole package we can offer our clients – from our contacts and marketing ability to the quality of the venues at which we conduct sales. Yet again, we received active participation from a truly international audience, but it was nice to note that the home market secured a good share of the motor cars.”
The top lot that survived its time in the chicken shed, the 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp, now once more a stunning head-turner, was launched at Olympia in 1906, was Henry Royce’s masterpiece. The new six-cylinder, 40/50hp Rolls-Royce, was in a class of its own and Royce’s engineering genius combined with the selling charms of the Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls and the business flair of Claude Johnson ensured that the world soon recognized the new model as “The Best Car in the World”. The history of the 40/50hp car, soon to be colloquially referred to as ‘The Silver Ghost’, is well chronicled, production continuing in the U.K. until 1925 and, remarkably, no fewer than 6,173 chassis were built in the U.K. with a further 1,703 erected at the Springfield Factory in the U.S.A.
Chassis no. 1995E was ordered on 4th May 1912 by Walter Raphael of Ryder Street, London, S.W. who paid his deposit of £454 three days later. Distinguished coachbuilders Barker & Co. of South Audley St., coachbuilders to H.M. the King and from the earliest days favored coachbuilders of Rolls-Royce, were commissioned to build the coachwork – originally a Limousine-Landaulet to their design ‘Whitmore’. On 8th October the balance of £952 was invoiced and 1995E, resplendent in its dark blue livery, was finally driven to Conduit Street for delivery to Raphael on 29th October.
Some 94 years later the car was discovered by Bonhams car specialists at Great Missenden in a disused chicken shed. Following its sale it was painstakingly rebuilt to the highest specification. The whispering six-cylinder engine is barely run in following restoration and now promises the new owner the inherent reliability that the master, Sir Henry Royce, designed into his ‘Silver Ghost’.