Coach-Built Classic: 1951 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

It isn’t every day that the opportunity presents itself to own a genuine coach-built classic, but that is what is on offer with this 1951 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. It has been sitting for more than four decades, so returning it to its best will take some work. However, the restored vehicle will command attention and allow its new owners to feel like a member of royalty. Located in Independence, Oregon, you will find this Silver Wraith listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding sits at $11,212, but that remains below the reserve.

Hooper and Co was a coach-building company that operated in London from 1805 until 1959. They were among the more exclusive and respected builders of their type, and their work was highly sought by those with the financial means to employ their services. Whether we consider their horse-drawn offerings or their later automobiles, Hoopers drew their customer base from the upper echelons of European society. It included royalty, and this trend continued until the company ceased operations in 1959. They undertook a significant amount of work for Rolls-Royce and Bentley, and this Silver Wraith is one such car. The body is a Teviot III version, which is one of the rarer offerings from within the range. Its lines are sweeping and elegant in the best Rolls-Royce tradition, with the front dominated by the iconic grille and Spirit of Ecstacy hood ornament. However, it is the smaller details that set the Teviot apart, and the most noteworthy of these are the beautiful Lucas P100L headlamps. However, when you look beyond the grille, bumpers, and headlamps, the lack of bright trim helps to reinforce this classic’s restrained appearance. The paint combination of Black and Maroon is typical of the period, and there is evidence of repair and repainting in this car’s past. There is cracked Bondo in one front fender, but the rest of the body looks okay. There are no visible rust issues, suggesting that whipping everything into shape before new paint is applied should be a straightforward task for the buyer to tackle. The glass appears to be in good order, and I can’t identify any missing parts from the exterior.

Rolls-Royce refused to quote specific power outputs for its road car engines for many years, and the stock reply to such questions was usually “sufficient.” However, we know that this Silver Wraith features a 4,566cc six-cylinder engine that produces 150hp. The power finds its way to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission, and while the output figure may suggest spritely performance,  the car’s overall weight has a significant impact in that regard. This classic would tip the scales at 4,500lbs, making the ¼ mile ET of 20 seconds no great surprise. Given enough space, the Silver Wraith could eventually find its way to 90mph, although getting there required patience on behalf of the driver. The previous owner placed this classic into storage in 1986, and in the best tradition of such cars, they state that it ran when parked. It doesn’t run now, and the seller doesn’t indicate whether the motor turns freely. It seems that the storage environment has been pretty favorable, so it could be a situation where a fuel system flush and rudimentary maintenance could see this classic cough elegantly back to life. The listing indicates an odometer reading of 7,800 miles. While the seller holds no evidence to verify this, he believes that the car’s history makes it possible that this figure could represent genuine miles.

If any aspect of this restoration is likely to consume cubic cash, it could be the interior. The beautiful wool carpet has deteriorated beyond repair, as has the headliner. There are lashings of magnificent walnut trim, but its condition means that it is another aspect that will require the attention of a specialist to gleam richly again. However, the leather trim may not prove to be a huge problem. There is a small rip in the passenger seat, but that appears to be the only physical damage. I feel that if the buyer employs the services of a leather specialist, they could repair this minor damage. If that person then cleans and conditions the leather, it would be returned to its supple best for minimal outlay.

I once said that a classic Rolls-Royce makes the ideal project car for someone wishing to undertake a DIY restoration in their home workshop. That’s not because they are cheap, because that would be far from accurate. However, they are genuinely hand-built. Therefore, anything that has been assembled by the human hand can be dismantled in the same way. This car could also offer its next owner two rewards when the process is complete. The first is that they would be able to slip behind the wheel of a luxury car that commands attention and respect. The second is that if the new owner completes the restoration to a high standard, there’s no reason why the vehicle couldn’t attract a six-figure value in today’s market. Combine those factors, and this becomes a project car worthy of a closer look.

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Comments

  1. SMS

    A coworker of mine bought a Silver Wrath. He was the head of maintance, restored a number of cars, very capable machinist and wood worker. I only saw the car a couple of times. Think it was a bit smaller than this one.

    According to him prices for parts were not too bad. The wood wasn’t thin so could be refinished. Leather was well tanned so could be brought back with cleaning and conditioning. It was also a complicated car. Many gadgets to allow it to float down the road, accelerate, brake, and turn with no surprises for the passengers. What helped greatly was that the car came with all of the manuals which gave detailed instructions. According to him it was a perfect DIY car for someone with patience and skill.

    Like 17
    • Stu Member

      We had a ’51 Silver Dawn about 30 yrs ago. Very cool and interesting car! BUT a few items worthy of mention…Bijour (sp?) lube system for oiling front end and chassis joints, clutch-style servo on side of trans to ‘power assist’ the mechanical front brakes, while the rears were hydraulic. The quick lever would move the driver’s window fully up or down in about a 1/4 sweep of the lever.

      Way fun and interesting but NOT for the faint of heart. If you plan to pay others prepare to look long and hard for the necessary skill sets in this modern world.

      Like 1
  2. Mike

    Very dramatic back end on this car.

    Like 11
    • Al

      Very reminiscent of the 1979-1985 Cadillac Seville.

      Like 8
  3. Terrry

    Rolls-Royce’s stated power output was listed as “adequate” in their sales brochures. Adequate for what? Beating a sun dial to 4pm? Anyway, this car still presents well and has potential if it’s what you’re after. It should be a good value if the reserve isn’t outrageous, say above about 17k.

    Like 3
    • Al

      If its sitting in Oregon, don’t take it to anywhere dry. The chassis is wood and would be until 1958.
      In dry climates, it will probably fall apart.

      Like 5
  4. Rick in Oregon

    This fellow (close to me)) always has some very cool stuff. Look at his other auctions and I’m sure you’ll agree!!! Lovely Rolls Royce!!

    Like 5
  5. MKG

    No rust due to it being an aluminum coach. But, as mentioned, a wooden coach frame, so be aware of dry/wet rot and drywood termites.

    Like 3
  6. ChingaTrailer

    This car has the smaller 4.25 motor with well known cylinder/piston/ring issues. A proper rebuild is $35,000. Anything less is just stupid and a waste of money. Only the body framing is wood, chassis frame is steel. Seller is a well known flipper. I’ve been to his house and restaurant. Personal inspection a must!!

    Like 1
  7. Johnny

    A friend of mine had one. A newer model at a car show. I asked if I could sit in it and he said sure–you deserve it. I got in the back and couldn,t believe how good and comfortable it felt. Then he told me to sit in the front. What a car. I felt like no other car I have sit in. We talked about it awhile.About maintance and such. He said the parts weren,t that high.He got most of his from California. If you ever get a chance to sit in one.Do it. You,ll love it. I wished I could afford this ,money to restore it and a place to work on it.

    Like 2
  8. Bill

    A real Rolls Royce, post war, with right hand shift and P 100 headlamps. The best of the 30’s with am improved drivetrain that will (about) keep up with traffic. That dash looks like crap compared to the rest of the wood.

    Could you be so lucky that a deep clean and rejuvenate bring it back to life?

    Don’t know about the stored indoors claim, looking at the mud lines on the tires.

    Like 3
  9. Rj

    To all the Mustang Gents…..put away your two 25 lb buckets of bondo and the rattlecans. This will not turn out well as the six hundredth Eleanor. To the Mopar boys a slantsix or a hemi isn’t the answer. This requires a turbocharged 6-71 Detroit, an 18 speed RoadRanger and straight pipes. Once seen and heard it will never be forgotten. The hardest part of this build will be deciding on which GMC or Peterbilt paint style to use. Off the top of my head the burgandy and silver GMC 9500 paint looks good. The appearance will be elegant, yet without snobbery when the RoadRanger gives the pipes the little Detroits music to play.

    Deaks Unite

  10. Bill McCoskey

    I bought my first Rolls-Royce in 1986 in London, and including Bentleys I have owned over 30 of these elegant cars. I also ran a restoration and service shop that specialized in Rolls-Royce & Bentley cars.

    What was written above by Johnny is soooo true, there is nothing like a Rolls-Royce or Bentley for sheer quality in construction and engineering.

    That said, it is important that whoever buys this car needs to be very careful in preparing this car for running and driving. After 40 years of sitting, items on these cars, not found on other cars, need to be inspected. For example – the power brake system may well be frozen, and if not taken care of, the car may be very hard to stop! The power brakes on a Rolls or Bentley are based on the Hispano-Suisse design, and are driven off the gearbox output shaft. If properly adjusted and oiled, it can quickly stop this car at 75mph, with the same pedal effort as if it was 5mph! But if frozen, it won’t stop you at 5mph!

    Like 6
  11. Bill McCoskey

    Forgot to mention;

    Mileage: It’s not a 7,000 mile car. It’s probably a 107,000 mile car. But it’s also a Rolls-Royce, and if it was driven and serviced properly, 107k miles is NOTHING, the mechanicals are just getting broken in!

    Like 5
  12. Laurence

    Except for a radically different rear treatment in its design, it looks a lot like Auric Goldfinger’s Phantom III. Change the burgundy paint to pale lime, and you can be driven around by a short North Korean with a deadly hat, while you say: “I expect you to DIE, Mr. Bond!”.

    Like 2
  13. TouringFordor

    I hope it comes with the light bulbs!

  14. Bob McK Member

    Sitting 40 years… If you could spend about $500,000 on a quality restoration, this would be one magnificent car. A true classic!!

    • ChingaTrailer

      Yes, one could spend big bucks . . . but one already superbly and properly restored should sell for no more than $50,000.

      Like 1

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