110 years of the Silver Ghost, the car that “invented” Rolls – Royce
Earlier 1906 Rolls - Royce was a brand that had just made a few dozen cars and tried to open new hole in the automotive industry. When in 1925 Silver Ghost was replaced by the Phantom brand displayed the title of "best car in the world", smoothness and silence of running their vehicles were their banner and celebrities from around the world were among their owners. Everything changed when in November 1906 Rolls - Royce presented at the Olympia Motor Show in London your 40/50 HP, a car that, thanks to the perfectionism of Henry Royce and Claude Johnson wit, built the identity and reputation of the brand with a name that sounds like a legendary creature: Silver Ghost
The automotive industry in 1906 was so different that hard to believe ever. In January in Ormond Beach (Maine, USA) Fred Marriott first managed to overcome the barrier of 200 km / h drive aboard a Stanley Rocket shaped projectile into which beat a steam engine. Electric cars were a popular urban transport, especially among women, and the Ford T did not even exist yet. The car was an eccentric toy for rich so unreliable that could hardly be taken seriously as a means of transportation. Since its founding in 1904 Rolls - Royce had sold tens of cars derived from Decauville and appreciable quality but nothing in the luxury market against the more than 700 Mercedes Simplex that Daimler had delivered about exorbitant $ 7,500 (Current EUR 200 000).
The Silver Ghost
In November of that year Rolls - Royce presented at the Olympia Motor Show your 40/50 HP. The model was first completely new car created by the mark with a 6-cylinder engine 7 liters connected to a gearbox gear 3 designed to minimize vibrations, and therefore noise and breakdowns that they transmitted to all components of the car. So along with a unit Barker carrozada by a bare chassis in which care could observe assembly with a sign saying was presented "Silent and completely British Rolls - Royce 6 cylinders".
However the first sales did not arrive until the spring of 1907 and then the 40/50 needed more than good skills, he needed a good promotion. And that was Claude Johnson.
As he had done in 1906 with its 30 HP, Rolls - Royce would present his new car to the test, the Scottish Reliability Trial. It was a journey of 1200 km on the roads of Scotland supervised by the RAC in which cars of various brands were faced with a scoring system that penalizes any stop that was not derived from traffic, punctures or organization, ie , any stop by failure. Johnson booked for testing the twelfth chassis produced, the 60551 and Barker commissioned a special outfit: a body in polished aluminum gleamed like silver armor of an Arthurian character. When he was ready he received an enrollment, AX201, and marched to the Scottish Highlands with a name that today is history: Silver Ghost, the Silver Ghost.
A Rolls - Royce never breaks
The AX201 (now owned by Bentley Motors) is not only the car that originally received the name "Silver Ghost" (applied later to all HP 40/50 prior to 1925), but much of the reputation of reliability Rolls - Royce is founded on the tests he underwent in spring and summer of 1907, completing more than 24 000 km without faults. Brand pilots inspected him highways Scottish Trial before the test by adding 3200 km and just 98 minutes from technical stops.
When the test at the end of June, the car completed 1,200 km with a single involuntary stop when the cap not closed gasoline opened by bumps in the road arrived. Being only the third most powerful in its class 7 won the event with ease, but for Claude Johnson was not enough, and around Glasgow set out to do a test supervised by the RAC for about 8000 km (5000 miles). The car responded so well that then arose beat the record distance without faults, which at that time was at 11,400 km (7,039 miles). The distance of the challenge was extended to 15 000 miles (24140 km), which was reached on August 8 having traveled 27 times the route London - Edinburgh. During the test the Silver Ghost suffered no more stops than those derived refueling, maintenance fluids and tire changes, having circulated most of the time in the last speed and therefore avoiding changes. In a time when a driver ran just 4000 km per year Claude Johnson made the 40/50 HP 24000 km silver go three months without a mechanical failure. In less than a year the "Silver Ghost" had changed the history of the brand.
Silence and revolutions
Provided that Diariomotor tried a modern Rolls - Royce will insist shocking silence that works ... and this is something that the current Ghost or Dawn also inherit the Silver Ghost.
When Autocar magazine tested the 40/50 HP in 1907 described it in one of the famous phrases about the brand: "Bowling this car at low speed is the softest thing we've tried, and as the silence, the engine under the hood could well be a sewing machine". In the early twentieth century the silence of operation and the absence of vibrations were rare even among the most luxurious cars qualities, and from them Rolls - Royce built a reputation. Coach I would rate without many detours as "The best car in the world"Creating a slogan that is used by the brand even today. But there was a lot behind this technique and smoothness of operation was also a high elasticity derived from the engine that kept shifting, a difficult maneuver at the time. In September 1911 the 40/50 HP chassis 1701 was to meet the challenge of Napier to travel from London to Edinburgh and back using only the highest gear. The car got it with a consumption of 11 l / 100 km by 14 of Napier, and a top speed in the same gear 125 km / h for 122 of the French car.
But the elasticity was not everything in a time when many roads were still rough and steep roads in the Silver Ghost also met failure. In 1912 the factory team was presented with several cars to the "Alpine Trial," a test in which cars of various brands made a difficult journey through the passes of the Alps. A first speed too long penalized the car had to retire not being able to climb the steep ramps. In 1913 Rolls - Royce returned to "trial Alpine" with a Silver Ghost equipped with four-speed and some modifications in its cooling system to win the race to dominate in all stages and slightly increase its reputation of infallible rutero.
Resistance, efficiency and capacity of the Silver Ghost in all fields had one last test has become part of the history of the brand and the car: war. At the beginning of World War existing 40/50 HP chassis were for the production of light armored vehicles for the British Army.
Of the 120 built a few ended up in the Middle East starring alongside T. E. Lawrence between 1916 and 1918 the Arab revolution that David Lean immortalized in his film "Lawrence of Arabia". Rolls - Royce were key pieces in the operations carried out by Lawrence in the Arab revolution, and in his book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" acquired the role of luxury side. "In the desert a Rolls is worth more than rubies" said Lawrence, referring to the reliability of those infinite car, often above the resistance men. Recounting a difficult passage through an area of dunes and rocks left a lapidary phrase: "We knew it was almost impossible to break a Rolls - Royce so we were more concerned about drivers".
The car that invented a brand
In 1925 the new 40/50 HP Phantom, hit the market retiring the Silver Ghost. There had been 7876 of 1703 which left the plant that built the brand in Springfield (Massachusetts), being the Phantom I the only Rolls - Royce has occurred outside England and the only manufactured in three different plants (Cooke Street, Derby and Springfield). It marks him all adjectives that have accompanied him in history, legendary reliability, unmatched silence and performance above the average earned. In 1911 the Silver Ghost added as an option series and later the figure has become the most recognizable symbol of the brand, the "Spirit of Ecstasy" by Charles Sykes. A Silver Ghost, the Marqués de Salamanca, won the first Grand Prix history, Madrid in 1913.
From Lenin to Kipling through the Mahrajas of India, monarchs and politicians wanted to have a car that was not only a symbol of luxury: it was the best possible means of land transport. Why despite the sumptuous luxury has been winning the game with the decades, every Rolls - Royce remains the obsession with technical excellence that makes cars perfect for traveling machines, perfect cars. And that DNA Silver Ghost is so strong that its 110 years will be one of the inspirations for the expected Cullinan.
* Part of the photos illustrating this article are taken at the Miguel Collection Via - Torre Loizaga, where 11 units Silver Ghost from 1910 and 1925 are preserved
In Diariomotor: Rolls - Royce Ghost Series II: "The day I was Rudyard Kipling" | Rolls - Royce Dawn, the sky as a roof
Photo: Rolls Royce | Diariomotor
Sources: Rolls Royce | AX201.com | RRAB.com | The Kelvin Car