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A 1911 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Semi-Open Drive Limousine, the epitome of Edwardian engineering and coachbuilding excellence, will headline at the Bonhams Golden Age of Motoring Sale at New Bond Street Friday 30 October, when it has an estimate of £1,000,000–1,300,000.

The Silver Ghost, so-called due to the silver paintwork of the 1906 Motor Show display car, was the flagship of Rolls-Royce, with a reputation as the ‘best car in the world’ not least due to the factory demonstrator setting a new world record in the 15,000-mile Scottish Reliability Run. 

At the heart of the Silver Ghost was a magnificent 7-litre engine which was mated to a three-speed gearbox, not only offering reliability and superlative performance, but a civilised driving experience that was smooth and ‘ghostly’ quiet compared with that of its rivals. 

The Silver Ghost’s engineering excellence was more than matched by its elegant style which is beautifully represented by the example on offer. Its coachwork was fashioned by Joseph A Lawton & Co of Liverpool, who designed its tulip-backed limousine body to the specification of its first owner, Mrs Benger of the Benger’s Foods company, a neighbour of Henry Royce.

The separate chauffeur’s compartment is traditionally trimmed with deep-buttoned black leather upholstery, while the driver’s instruments include a speedometer, dashboard-mounted fuel pressure gauge, an electric klaxon and a speaking tube to communicate with passengers.

The rear compartment is sumptuously fitted out with silk blinds and curtains, bevelled glass rear windows and outstanding burr walnut door panelling and headlining. Other opulent features include a courtesy lamp, cocktail cabinet, full-width vanity tray with scent bottles and flower vase, and rear clock. A luggage rack is provided for the long-distance motor tour. 

Tim Schofield, Head of Department, Bonhams Motor Cars UK, said: “This Rolls-Royce is an outstanding example of its type, truly the crème de la crème, and will be a very special highlight of the sale.”

Other Veteran, Vintage and Post-Vintage vehicles consigned for this sale include a 1903 Thornycroft 20hp 4-Cylinder Double Phaeton, estimated at £340,000–360,000.

A rare survivor from the British manufacturer, owned until 1957 by one of its founders, Tom Thornycroft, one of its four loyal custodians. Offered in concours condition, the Thornycroft has successfully completed all the London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs it has entered – on many occasions carrying six intrepid automobilists.

1929 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport Open Tourer, estimate £270,000–330,000. Produced in the heyday of Bugatti’s Grand Prix success, the Type 40 offered exceptional handling, braking and performance with a top speed of 75mph.
A remarkably original example, one of fewer than 200 known surviving Grand Sports, this is offered by the family of Anthony Clark, and has been in its current ownership since 1957. 

1924 Vauxhall 30-98 OE-Velox Tourer, estimate £250,000–300,000. Considered the finest British sporting Vintage motor car, the 30-98 was more than a match for its rival Bentleys. The first model set a new record at the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb and the later OE versions, powered by a 110hp 4.2-litre engines, enjoyed success at the Brooklands motor circuit.

This original bodied example, with full matching numbers, has been owned by its vendor since 1968. 

1901 Panhard-Levassor Type A2 7hp Twin-Cylinder Rear-Entrance Tonneau, estimate £225,000-275,000. One of a mere handful of survivors of these transitional 7hp Daimler-Phoenix-engined Panhards delivered in 1901, the best known of which is ‘Le Papillon Bleu’ notably sold by Bonhams a year ago in New Bond Street.

This is a rare example of the first ‘modern motor car’ which had a front-mounted engine, a three-speed manual transmission albeit with chain drive, piano style pedals and a steering-wheel in place of a tiller, known as the ‘système Panhard’.
At one time, this motor car formed part of the renowned Schlumpf Collection, belonging to the textile magnate brothers in Mulhouse, and then was owned by the Mercedes-Benz Museum Collection until 2010.

Extensively restored by noted specialists and age-verified by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, this Panhard has the benefit of an early start time entry in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

1902 Arrol-Johnston 10/12hp Dogcart, estimate £80,000–120,000. One of the earliest British motor cars, the Arrol-Johnston featured a distinctive dogcart body, with the driver’s seat in the second row. This example was found derelict in a quarry in the 1960s and has since been restored twice. Owned by the same family since 1991, this motor car has completed many London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs.

Viewing and Sale. All lots will be available to view in person, at Bonhams New Bond Street on Wednesday 28, Thursday 29 (all day) and Friday 30 October from 9am.

The sale will be a traditional live auction Friday 30 October, (automobilia 1pm, motor cars 5pm), with an auctioneer at the rostrum and a limited number of bidders in the Bonhams New Bond Street saleroom (respecting social distancing and all COVID-19 related guidelines). It will be live-streamed to a worldwide audience of bidders, via the Bonhams website, enabling telephone, online and by commission bids, supplemented by online bidding aggregators.

Contact ukcars@bonhams.com to register to bid. Link to the on-line sale catalogue https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/26120/.

With the very real potential for restrictions being re-imposed on free movement to combat any coronavirus spread spikes however, C.A.R. surfers therefore are strongly advised to check direct with auctioneers that sales are actually going ahead even on their rescheduled dates, and in whatever on-line formats have been planned, before incurring travelling costs. Be aware, too, that IF there are printed catalogues, these may still need to be purchased in order to gain access to auction areas. RH-E