Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Drophead Coupe

Introduced in 1946, the Silver Wraith was the direct continuation of the prewar Wraith. It is unique in that it has that elegant prewar appearance yet possesses the driving characteristics of more modern cars. Due to the ease of steering and controls, as well as the silky-smooth gear changes, the car can be comfortably driven by almost anyone. Few cars of the immediate postwar era have such comfortable long-range touring capabilities, making the Silver Wraith a favorite of Rolls-Royce enthusiasts as a car club touring car.

The Silver Wraith engine was the same size as the prewar Wraith, but its design was new. The engine block was now one piece with an F-head configuration; overhead inlet and side exhaust valves permitted larger valve diameters, as well as eventual displacement. The chassis was new but followed the prewar Wraith pattern. Four-wheel hydraulic jacks built in to the prewar Wraiths and Phantom IIIs were gone, and wire wheels were replaced by disc wheels. Four-wheel adjustable shocks were reduced to only two, fitted to the rear and controlled by a hydraulic pump. The earliest cars can be identified visually by the divided bonnet sides, which in 1947 became one piece.

The cooling system, at four gallons, is more than adequate, and the Silver Wraiths (along with the Phantom IVs only sold new to heads of state) are the only postwar Rolls-Royce cars to use the thermostatically-controlled radiator shutters as used in the prewar years.

During its 13-year production run, the Silver Wraith was fitted with widely differing coachwork styles. These varied from relatively compact coupes and convertibles to huge 7/8-passenger limousines and stately landaulettes. The bare rolling chassis cost £1,800 (about $9,000), and bodies were exclusively built by independent coachworks. In all, there were 1,783 Silver Wraiths built between 1946 and 1959: 1,144 short-wheelbase and 639 long-wheelbase examples.

The Silver Wraith survived until 1959, having been modernized step by step with vital improvements, like optional automatic transmission in 1952 and power-assisted steering in 1956. By the end of 1954, all Silver Wraiths were fitted with automatic transmissions. The engine was bored out to 4,566 cc in 1951, and in 1954 capacity was increased to 4,887 cc for 178 horsepower. The need for more power had become inevitable, because the weight of the additional equipment had eroded the car’s performance.

The Silver Wraith was the last Rolls-Royce model to show a vast variety of coachwork styles and, perhaps more than any other model produced since WWII, represents the smooth, silent grace that is Rolls-Royce. The end of the Silver Wraith marked the end of an era of craftsmanship and individuality in motor car production.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2011 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

125 hp, 4,257 cc, IOE six-cylinder engine, one Stromberg carburetor, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and adjustable shocks, hydraulic front drum brakes, mechanical rear brakes, with power assist. Wheelbase: 127"

Source: RM Auctions

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