Rolls-Royce’s legendary 40/50hp model, famously dubbed ‘The Best Car in the World,’ was further immortalized when the company chose to focus exclusively on it, leading to its association with the ‘Silver Ghost’ nickname. Prior to their move to a new Derby factory in 1908, Rolls-Royce had produced a variety of car models at their Manchester facility, ranging from two to six cylinders and even a failed V8. However, the decision to emphasize the range-topping 40/50hp model marked a pivotal moment in the company’s history.
The heart of the Silver Ghost was its magnificent engine, initially a 7,036cc (later 7,428cc) sidevalve six with a seven-bearing crankshaft and pressure lubrication. It rode on a robust chassis with channel-section side members and tubular cross members, utilizing semi-elliptic springs at the front and a ‘platform’ leaf spring setup at the rear. Over the years, there were various improvements, including the transition to a three-speed gearbox with direct-drive top gear in 1909.
Royce’s unwavering engineering standards demanded excellence from his team in both Manchester and Derby. Every chassis underwent rigorous testing before delivery. The Silver Ghost remained in production in England until 1925, with 6,173 units completed in Manchester and Derby, and continued until 1926 at the Springfield plant in the USA, where an additional 1,703 were manufactured. This extended production run made it the longest-lasting model in the storied history of Rolls-Royce.