20-21 January 2011


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Lot 115

1947 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Drophead Coupe by Franay

  • Chassis no. WVA63

Sold for $165,000

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"

- From the Bill Jacobs Collection

- The first of six unique drophead coupes bodied by Franay of Paris

- Sold new to a doctor in Geneva, Switzerland

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 originally delivered to Dr. M. Adel Latif of Geneva, Switzerland and is the 148th from the start of production. He is believed to have kept it for a number of years. It has been beautifully restored in blue with blue leather and a dark blue canvas top and is now offered from the esteemed collection of Bill Jacobs.

Carrosserie Franay built only six drophead coupe bodies on the Silver Wraith chassis, and this is the first one. All six were different, so this car is certainly very unique. Franay ceased building coachwork in the 1950s, and this is a sophisticated example of its craftsmanship.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more