Cars | Need To Now

An auction for high rollers

For sale: a 1913 Silver Ghost with the Vanderbilt touch

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An auction for high rollers

Image: © Dan Kruse Classics

February 23 2012
Vicki Reeve

Rolls-Royce and Vanderbilt. On their own, the names conjure up images of glamour and luxury; when combined, the already sky-high allure ramps up even further. Hence the excitement surrounding the forthcoming sale of a 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (first picture) formerly owned by the “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s family and used by his philanthropic wife (and dowager for more than 60 years), Alice Claypoole Gwynne.

The deep-maroon vehicle, with black fenders and highlights, is a picture of elegance, and in mostly original condition. Its chassis was personally ordered from the Rolls-Royce factory in England by the Vanderbilts, and was shipped to the renowned coachbuilder Brewster in Long Island City for precision attention. Suffice it to say that the skill and craftsmanship that went into its manufacture were the best money could buy.

It has almost 89,300 miles on the clock (aka a custom-built Rolls-Royce Waltham speedometer-odometer) and, although the chauffeur is barely protected from the elements by a removable fabric cover, passengers travelling in the back do so in splendour, perching on deep red wool broadcloth. Much of the hardware has the original nickel finish, pull-down window shades provide sun-protection and privacy, and a stem-wound clock is mounted on the divider wall. All the lighting has been electrified, and the car has a manual gearbox, wooden-spoke wheels, a 7,428cc twin-head, side valve inline six-cylinder engine, plus two spare tyres mounted on the fenders.

The vehicle forms part of the legendary Dick Burdick classic-car collection and is being auctioned by the highly respected, family-run US collectable-car auction house Dan Kruse Classics. It’s already on preview display at the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History until March 2, the day before it goes under the hammer. If it’s not to your taste, there are dozens of other glorious motors up for grabs, spanning the decades from a “horseless carriage” 1901 Holsman Model #54 “High Wheeler” Rear Entrance touring car (second picture), right through to a 2000 Bentley Arnage 4-Dr Sedan. Gear up for some speedy gavel action.