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Car Tales: Ghost-Like Luxury, 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Park Ward Limousine

Such an archetypal symbol of luxury, and also of new beginnings and a new time, the Silver Wraith was the first all-new Rolls-Royce built after the end of World War 2. In 1946, a year after the war had ended, it was in production, and would continue to be until 1958.
1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith for sales
The use of the arcane Scottish word ‘wraith’ was in keeping with the established tradition of naming models after spectral beings.
With their industrial plants turned over to making such armaments as bombers and fighter planes during World War 2, Rolls suddenly found itself with the cessation of hostilities with a large surplus of manufacturing capacity: accordingly the company quickly retooled to produce this significantly modernized car.

1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith side view
The car was intended to fill the role of Rolls Royce’s smaller vehicle, the size being chosen to stay up to date with the mood of post-war trends. Improvements over the 1939 Wraith were chromium-plated cylinder bores, a more rigid chassis frame, independent front suspension, a synchromesh gearbox, and centralized chassis lubrication.

Servo assisted drum brakes were used at both ends of the Silver Wraith, hydraulically operated at the front, and mechanically operated at the rear.

Retaining the Rolls-Royce format of luxury UK automobiles from before World War 2, the Silver Wraith was available only as a chassis for luxury coachbuilders: like the legendary Park Ward, for example, as is the case with the 1954 model we presently have at Beverly Hills Car Club.
This left-hand-drive 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Park Ward Limousine long-wheelbase is finished in Red, complemented with a Gray leather interior. This high-end luxury limousine is equipped with a GM-sourced Hydramatic transmission, 4.6-liter straight-six engine, Stromberg carburetor, Smiths instruments, Lucas branded ammeter, single exhaust outlet, Lambswool floor mats, chrome bumpers, chrome trim, interior wood trim, three-spoke steering wheel, Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, unique triangular-design tail lights, BF Goodrich whitewall tires, Rolls-Royce branded hub caps, jack, and a full-size spare tire in the trunk.
Amenities include a glass partition, rear folding picnic trays, fender-mounted side mirror, analog clock in the dashboard, vent windows, pop-out rear quarter windows, glove box, grab handles, sun visors, courtesy lights, a cigar lighter with an ashtray, and very comfortable bench seats.

1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith rear view
This car is a very presentable and prestigious post-war Rolls Royce that is mechanically sound.

The impressive 2010 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe that we presently have at Beverly Hills Car Club is finished in its factory two-tone color scheme of Arctic White and Primer Grey gracefully complemented with a Moccasin interior.
1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith interior
Prestigious? Yes, indeed. And also considered a symbol of a kind of infinite – and in some cases imperial – power. Right up until now a 1947 Silver Wraith is employed by the Irish President as his state car. In Brazil until the present day a 1952 model is similarly used, as one from that year is also used in Zimbabwe.

The royal Dutch, Danish and Greek families traveled to official engagements in a Silver Wraith; as did the Chief Minister of Penang in Malaysia before he was ambushed in it by communist rebels in 1951. In 1959 the Yugoslavian President Josip Tito used a Silver Wraith to transport the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie about his country.

So, some history. And in case that wasn’t enough, the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith became an iconic presence in a multitude of top movies, right up until quite recently with its appearance in the 2015 James Bond modern classic Specter; which was like a reprise of its role right at the beginning of the Bond cycle in 1963’s From Russia With Love.

Wherever, it seemed, there was a classy film, up popped a Silver Wraith, almost outshining the human stars: Billy Wilder’s 1957 courtroom drama Witness for the Prosecution; the next year’s Indiscreet, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman; the Marilyn Monroe vehicle Let’s Make Love in 1960; 1975’s fabulous Return of the Pink Panther; Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories in 1980; the splendid Arthur in 1981, starring Dudley Moore; the seemingly inescapable cult film Withnail and I – on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list – in 1987; and – inevitably, it feels – Batman and Batman Returns in 1989 and 1992. Plus much, much more.

Park Ward, the coach builders, had been acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1939. A British coach builder founded in 1919, Park Ward operated from Willesden in North-West London. In the 1930s, backed by Rolls-Royce, it made technical advances which enabled the building of all-steel bodies to Rolls-Royce’s high standards.

1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith engine
Beginning in 1933, when they obtained patents, Park Ward developed a technically interesting all-steel saloon in conjunction with Rolls-Royce, and from 1936 offered it on the new Bentley chassis.

The Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Park Ward Limousine long-wheelbase we have at Beverly Hills Car Club is left-hand drive with an automatic transmission, making it ideal for modern North American roads.
-Alex Manos, Owner
1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith buyer Alex Manos

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