1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Sedanca de Ville by Hooper (1953)




Year :  1953
Make :  Rolls-Royce
Model :  Silver Wraith
Coachbuilder :  Hooper
Body Type :  Long Wheel Base Sedanca de Ville
Colour :  Garnet over Dusk Grey
Trim :  Grey
History :  Manufacture of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars soon resumed in 1946 after World War II with production of the Silver Wraith. It was initially offered with the same engine dimensions as the pre-war Wraith and 4 ¼ Litre Bentley, but cylinder head design was entirely different, being cast in aluminium alloy and containing only the inlet valves; spent gases exhaust through valves in the cylinder block. Front suspension is by a robust coil spring twin fulcrum arm system, a much simplified development of Phantom III and Wraith equipment. It is mounted on a chassis frame with the same great strength, fitted with orthodox leaf springs at the rear. It came in two lengths, a standard 127 inch chassis and a long wheel base variant measuring 133 inches. The familiar delightful gear shift was retained with automatic transmission becoming an option from 1953 onwards. The automatic gearbox was effectively a refined and developed version of the General Motors design. The introduction of this innovation coincided with the widening of the cylinder bores to 3.625 inches. This allied to an unchanged stroke of 4.5 inches enlarged the engine capacity to 4566cc. The famous servo assisted braking system is partially hydraulic and the last cars have power assisted steering with a 4887cc engine. The Silver Wraith chassis were offered until 1959 and were always fitted with handmade individually crafted coachwork. The war years had certainly taken their toll on the coach building industry in England, with many famous names ceasing to exist by the mid 1940’s. However some of the most established companies did survive, such as H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward and Hooper who between them were responsible for designing and creating some of the most elegant and stylish coachwork fitted to the Silver Wraith chassis. A total of 1,886 Silver Wraiths were produced between 1946 and 1959 and were ordered by a diverse cross section of customers, including governments who purchased them for Presidential use. A number of cars were purchased by nobility and Royal families all over the world. The Silver Wraith also found favour amongst captains of industry as well as recognised stars in the entertainment world, making it a very successful return to motor car production for Rolls-Royce. Chassis No ALW47 is perhaps Hooper’s most elegant post war Sedanca de Ville and is featured and illustrated in the book “The Classic Elegance” by Lawrence Dalton. It was built to the order of Nubar Gulbenkian in 1953. Armenian born Gulbenkian was a very colourful character, described as a flamboyantly bearded and monocled devotee of fox hunts, orchids and Rolls-Royces. He is understood to have kept a suite all year round in Piccadilly’s famous Ritz Hotel giving him swift access to the exciting nightlife in West London where he conducted his playboy style pursuits. His shrewd and successful family’s vast wealth had been accumulated in the oil business and Nubar was not shy when it came to spending his fortune. He had a passion for Rolls-Royces, in particular Silver Wraiths bodied by his preferred coachbuilder Hooper. Gulbenkian is understood to have had four Silver Wraiths commissioned and bodied by Hooper, including a Perspex top saloon and an open tourer. ALW47 is perhaps the most balanced and stylish Silver Wraith Gulbenkian had created with the Empress style coachwork sitting particularly well on the long wheel base chassis of the 1950’s Silver Wraith. This unique motor car comes with a range of interesting features which should come as no surprise judging by Gulbenian’s character. The driver’s compartment is trimmed in grey leather and can be easily adapted for open driving with the original coach key which comes supplied with the car. One smooth turn of the key releases the back section of the roof, revealing a compartment for the Sedanca style roof to slide into once released from the clasps that sit above the windscreen. It is a very simple yet ingenious design way ahead of its time. The rear compartment is fitted with large and luxurious reclining seats trimmed in West of England cloth for added silence and comfort. An electric division, electric windows and air conditioning were also specified when ALW47 was built, and are all still in perfect working order. The dashboard, door fillets, window frames and rear division rail are trimmed outlandishly in snake skin, which we believe to be python. Gulbenkian is known to have liked his chauffeurs to drive in a brisk style and had a speedometer fitted to the rear division rail so he could keep an eye on his employee’s progress. The rear compartment speedometer is complemented by a time clock, which is a consistent feature in all of Gulbenkian’s Silver Wraiths. This stylish and interesting motor car has been part of our personal collection for many years, being used on various rallies and having appearing at a number of concours events with some success.
Condition :  Good condition throughout.
Technical Data :  Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in line configuration engine, 4.5 litres displacement, 4566cc capacity. Drum brakes servo-assisted.
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  • Year: 1953
  • Doors: 4
  • Body type: Saloon
  • Transmission type: Manual
  • Fuel type: Petrol
  • Colour: Multi

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