1955 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith
Sale price: £42,250.00 make an offer
Car location: Bristol, United KingdomSale type: Fixed price listing
Technical specifications, photos and description:
• Incredible original interior
• Full engine re-build totalling over £26,000
• Aluminium body hand made by park ward
• Extensive, detailed service history
• Offered with its cherished plate valued at £5,000 last year
Buying a luxury car today, including a Rolls Royce, is a relatively simple affair. You walk into the dealership, you have a look at the offerings, a salesperson in a sharp outfit will offer you brochures and high-end coffee, and then you sit down and choose your car. In the case of Rolls Royce, there will of course be a bewildering array of personalisation options presented to you - diamonds in the dash, paint that costs more than a two-bed house in Manchester, that kind of thing. It's all very special, very bespoke and very exciting. However, it's nothing in comparison to how things were done back in the day.
Take the car here, for example. This glorious aircraft carrier-sized machine is not just a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, no, it's a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith by Park Ward. Because back when this car was first offered in 1948, it was bought as a chassis and engine. The body, or should we say the company who would build it, was chosen by the buyer. And this buyer selected one of the finest bodybuilders that has ever existed. Park Ward was the benchmark for high-end bodybuilding, and a company synonymous with only the finest marques. As such, this Silver Wraith stands today as a glorious example of what could be created back in post-war Britain. It is, from bumper to bumper, a masterclass in luxury and refinement. And it could well be yours.
This 1955 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, which was ordered by Leeds-based printing machinery manufacturers, R W Crabtree & Sons was built on a long wheelbase chassis. A tall, wide and impossibly long machine, it was the perfect vehicle in which Crabtree and his offspring could be ferried about it. The kind of car with so much presence, it would be impossible to think its occupants were anything less than the leaders in whatever they did.
Fitted with a 4,566cc whisper-quiet straight-six petrol engine mated to a four-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission, this behemoth was and still is more than capable of gliding along in utter, serene tranquillity. The shifts are silky smooth, the engine barely breaks past a whisper, and thanks to acres of deep wool and other sound deadening, road noise doesn't exist. Furthermore, the 550 featured an electronic partition that raises up between driver and rear seat occupants. Because really, you don't want to be forced to converse with ‘the help' do you?
The car was originally painted blue. However, in 1991 its then owner opted to have the body painted a far more appealing colour, namely Tudor Grey metallic. This is the only work the body has seen though. The interior is also completely original, having never been refurbished or replaced, and it's all in beautiful condition. The engine has, in more recent years, been completely rebuilt and refreshed, and as such is in rude health, and ready to chauffeur you to Farnborough or the South of France - it would baulk at neither.
The car has had seven owners over the years, all of whom are documented in the car's extensive paperwork. Furthermore, three of the car's owners were of the same family, which is reassuring. There is paperwork of all kinds, which we'll detail below. The tools are all present, the car is in wonderfully original condition and according to the owner, is the last of fourteen to be built to this design. Make no mistake, any classic Rolls Royce is a special car, but this one takes that notion to another level.
There is a frankly overwhelming amount of paperwork included with this Rolls Royce. The most significant would of course be the myriad invoices for all the engine work that has been completed in recent years. From top to bottom, the engine has been completely rebuilt at a cost of well in excess of £20,000. A full clean up, new bearings, new pistons, pumps and more have all been fitted. The transmission has been worked on, the suspension and brakes too. This car has lived a life wanting for nothing, nor has it ever apparently been the subject of someone with tight purse strings. Looking through the vast and detailed history, it is apparent that this Rolls has always been treated the way a Rolls should be.
The other paperwork included offers a fascinating insight into the car's past. There is the original build sheet from Rolls, which pleasantly highlights how laden with equipment the car is. There is the original technical drawing from Park Ward (which, in our humble opinion, deserves to be framed and hung on the wall) and there is even the original leather-bound owner's manual.
Further paperwork included newspaper clippings featuring the car with previous owners, there are magazine clippings, copies of every past logbook and most intriguingly of all, a letter that states the car was used by none other than Sir Winston Churchill during a time when the car was hired out.
This car has, make no mistake, lead a remarkable but also cherished life. The paperwork is not only a wonderful way of documenting the mechanical works afforded to this car, it also tells the story of how each owner used, enjoyed and cared for it. Should you be the lucky winning bidder, you'll be captivated as you thumb through all that is here.
#DLW144 is also featured in Martin Bennet's book 'The Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith' which contains the records of every Wraith ever built from their factory build sheet specs to their first owners. In this book, #DLW144 is confirmed to be the last one of her kind, the last actual Silver Wraith chassis and engine to roll off the production line built to this specification.
While the exterior is indeed glorious, as we'll detail in a moment, the interior is simply incredible. This car, which turns sixty-five this year, is still fitted with its original interior. Nothing has been changed, at all. What you see here is exactly what Mr. Crabtree would have seen in 1955. It is a remarkable example of preservation, and also of just how well this car was built in the first place.
The rich, red leather has been broken in over the years, of course. But it's been cleaned, it's been fed and it has been looked after. There are no rips, no tears and no damage to be seen. Sliding into any of the seats, you soon sink into a position of seemingly impossible comfort. Pull the door shut behind you, and it closes with a reassuringly firm ‘thunk', leaving you in the silent opulence of the Wraith's innards.
The foot rests, the rear wool rug, the carpets, the door cards, the headlining complete with sculpted lights - it's all there, and it's all in perfect, beautifully aged condition. The leather has softened over time, and the door pulls have a slight shine to them where hands have come into contact over the years. But as with the seats, nothing is missing, broken or otherwise imperfect. It's not new, and it would be naïve to think it could be. No, it's original.
Up front, the driver is faced with a sea of high-quality veneer, all in excellent order. The dials are all bright and functional, and while the radio is something of an anachronism, it's still a period item. The steering wheel is in good order, as are all the controls and switches, all of which function as they should.
In the back, the passengers are treated to near perfect fold-up picnic tables, and also a central unit in which one will find glasses and a decanter. The rear bench has a fold-down arm-rest, in which resides the original bevelled vanity mirror. Finally, atop the division between driver and passenger, there is a 12v socket and buttons for the functional glass partition.
Finally, there is the boot. Access is granted via a lever in the rear passenger compartment (no external handle). The boot still houses the spare wheel, all the original mats and carpets along with the factory jack and tool kit. The only negative here is that the springs in the boot hinges are perhaps not as strong as they once were.
The pictures don't lie here, and as such, we can happily report that this Silver Wraith presents incredibly well. Kept in a heated, dry storage facility, the car is obviously in excellent order. The paint applied in 1991 was obviously done to an exceptionally high standard, as it truly does look to be factory.
The all-important chrome is all in near perfect order. Though of course, this is a sixty-five year-old car, so there is the small blemish here and there, such as on the door handles and the like. But this is wear commensurate with age and use, it's not damage that needs to be remedied. In fact, to do so would be of detriment to the car. It wears its years of use with an elegant pride.
The all-important grille is immaculate, and the opening vertical vanes function as they should. Furthermore, atop the seemingly impossible grille sits a beautiful rarity. Look at any other Rolls Royce and the Spirit of Ecstasy will be standing. Here though, Eleanor is down on one knee, which was a design brought about in response to drivers saying they needed a clearer view of the road, particularly when turning.
Underneath the Rolls, all looks to be solid and free of any corrosion. Furthermore, there was no evidence of past repair. There is an abundance of rust protection though, which is reassuring. There is also ample grease on the moving parts, further adding to the belief that this car has been fastidiously cared for.
Back to the body, it's worth noting that this is of course an older car. As such, there is the occasional blemish here and there, and we have covered these in the photos. Again, there is nothing of major concern, the panels line up perfectly, the paint is uniform and while we suspect some repairs have been carried out over the years, they have been done to a good standard. The only point of issue is the damage to one ring of the upper light unit in the nearside rear cluster, which we have covered in the photographs.
Given that in excess of £20,000 has been spent on the engine, it goes without saying that it is in rude health. It starts keenly and idles at a near inaudible level. Even when the throttle is pressed, the noise is subtle and muted, not raucous. It purrs and settles into a happy idle, and soon finds a good temperature. Furthermore, the cooling system has been drained, flushed and filled with Evans waterless coolant. This coolant, due to containing no water, runs at some 75% less pressure, meaning the cooling system is under minimal load.
On the road, the Wraith is an utter joy. The suspension sucks up any imperfections the asphalt may throw at it, and the whole thing glides along with an effortless grace. There is some body roll in the bends, of course, but this is a country house on wheels, not a race car. It's to be expected.
The brakes pull the big machine to a halt with ease and without drama, the steering is light given the car's heft, and the four-speed transmission functions faultlessly. The shifts between gears are barely noticeable as the car gathers momentum.
There are no bumps, no bangs, no rattles, no untoward noises, no smells nor any smoke or steam. It's in exceptional mechanical condition, and as such, has many years of silky smooth service left to offer.
One of fourteen, a car rumoured to have carried Churchill and a life through which nothing has been neglected or done on the cheap - this is the ultimate example of its kind. To be honest, you would buy it just for the gorgeous, beautifully broken-in interior. To be inside this Silver Wraith is to step into a wheeled time capsule. Leave your smartphone in the house and just immerse yourself in the luxury of a 1950s hand built Rolls Royce. Although probably in need of a little bit of recommissioning after being un-used for a while, the appeal of this vehicle is as evident as ever.
But of course, the appeal doesn't lie with just the interior. There is the rest of the car too. That glorious body, the expertly maintained mechanicals and the wonderful condition they're in. There's the ride, the comfort, the general aesthetic and of course, the rarity. This is an exceptional proposition, and one that isn't likely to be available again any time soon.
More photos available at the following link...
Also published at eBay.co.uk
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