Sold – $18,250 (Plus Fees)
Designed and sold as the first Rolls Royce after World War Two, the Silver Wraith offered some small improvements over its predecessor, the 1939 Wraith model and was now the only model available for purchase. A small car by Rolls Royce standards, the Silver Wraith was the first model that did not require coachbuilding. Due to an increasingly diminishing coachbuilding trade, Rolls Royce elected to offer a standardized steel-stamped body from the factory. Other enhancements included a more powerful motor, suspension refinement, and transmission shifting improvements. All chassis (1883 in total) were constructed alongside a smaller Bentley counterpart in a Crewe from 1946 until the model was retired in 1958 and right now we have one for sale.
Offered today, hailing from 1949, is a Silver Wraith chassis complete with James Young’s custom coachwork. The robust and flowing, handworked aluminum body is characteristic of Rolls Royce aesthetics and is coated in its original deep maroon paint. Little to nothing is known about the history after its original sale from Rolls Royce and where it arrived for coachbuilding. However, the story picks up in 1971 when the well-known collector Maurice Goulart purchased it. Afterward, this Silver Wraith rested in his private collection until 2018. As such, the paintwork and brightwork all show some signs of breakdown. Oxidization is present on the chrome fixtures, and paint has been flaking away on the driver’s rear quarter panel and fender leaving the sheet metal exposed. The exquisite bodywork, though, is undamaged. Featuring bustle-back construction allows the rear paneling to unveil itself as a loading shelf, a storage unit for the tool kit (with spare wheel and tool kit), and a luggage area. The body color matching wheels star chrome hubs with the Rolls Royce logo emblazoned upon the center caps. The trafficators from the B-pillars are still functional in movement and illumination, and a single headlight is uncommonly mounted to the center of the radiator grill. The original sterling silver ‘Spirit of Ecstacy’ radiator ornament is still attached but has tarnished.
Some of the most significant automotive improvements for Rolls Royce to implement were to the suspension and the motor. The new Silver Wraith had a far more rigid body, a necessity for the revolutionary coil-spring independent front suspension assembly. The braking system was now hydraulic in the front, which decreased braking distance. The motor, a 4.3-liter straight-six was forthwith provisioned with chromium-plated cylinder bores, and overall power output was increased to around 30 horsepower. Our particular example is singly carburated, and the new owner has had a new head gasket with other top-end gaskets installed to restore operation. At the same time, the radiator was cleaned of debris, fresh fluids were installed, and the original water neck was repaired. The factory airbox is not currently installed but is, of course, included with the sale. Further advancement to the Silver Wraith included synchromesh gears within the four-speed manual transmission to aid shifting since automatics would only become available in later production year models.
Tan leather hides upholster the interior seating surfaces and door panels and are nicely matched to plush carpeting. However, due to usage and storage, the wear and fade are commensurate with its age. A burled hand-hewn wooden dashboard has metal ingress hand supports and houses a glove compartment plus several gauges. The instrumentation gauges fitted feature a 100 mph speedometer, fuel level gauge, ammeter, clock, and oil pressure with coolant temperature gauge. A button for the rear blind is present; however, the center divider is no longer installed. 35,000 miles are shown on the five-digit odometer, although this may not be the actual mileage. The headliner and fabric sunshades are in fair condition with minimal signs of wear. The shift-lever for the transmission is uniquely floor mounted below the driver’s leg. Above is the original leather-wrapped steering wheel with a centralized polished metal Rolls Royce emblem complete with an example of an early ride selector switch. The rear bench seat, also covered in leather, have working single-cigarette armrest mounted ashtrays and tray tables unfold from the front seatbacks. An aftermarket Radiomobile under-dash radio is available with the purchase and is not original to the car.
As the number of coachbuilt Rolls Royce dwindled, the company began producing their own bodies in-house. As aforementioned, only 1883 Silver Wraiths were produced during a twelve year period and this James Young designed model exudes exclusive high-class character, even with its aged appearance. As we said, the airbox, tool kit, spare wheel, radio, original California ‘blue’ license plates, and more are all included with the sale plus a clean title. The opportunity to own a running, driving, hand-built ultra-luxury car from the 1940s is here and now.