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Car of the Month Selection

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The Classic Elegance

Wood: Rolls-Royce and Bentley: Spirit of Excellence

 

Car of the Month - December 2007
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, 1956, #FLW8
Limousine by Freestone & Webb


  Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

For the 1956 Earls Court Motor Show in London, arguably internationally renowned as the most important auto show of the United Kingdom, Freestone & Webb were keen to remain on the safe side. Instead of any risk from an experiment they decided to exhibit a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith bodied as a limousine to their design 3171/A.

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

Coachwork to such lines had met with their clients' approval. Having made its debut in 1954 – at Earls Court Motor Show, too – this was a sort of "bestseller" among the post-war creations by Freestone & Webb. Indeed all in all some 15 orders for Silver Wraith were listed. Identical as regards the basic lines though different in proportions additional bodies were erected on chassis from Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn and Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I. The considerable number of 8 for the latter plus one 2-door variant.

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

On page 57 in the revised edition of "Rolls-Royce, The Classic Elegance" two photos are shown of the original version from 1954. However no cover for the tank filler cap set into the right rear wing is to bee seen there. A little subterfuge by using air-brush on the “Coachbuilder’s Photos” to achieve unspoilt lines? Or did Freestone & Webb arrange for particular changes in details as regards their design? For their 1956 exhibit the cover of the tank filler cap was positioned in the car’s right-side rear panel. From the rear view photo certain styling elements from the parallel built model, i.e. the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I are obvious, too, in form of base plate of registration and tail lamps. And #FLW8 also shows such relationship as regards the characteristic bumpers and overriders.

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

There had been a note, that the 1954 show car had been no 7-seater limousine. This later version however with its occasional seats (stored towards the division when not used) does permit to be described as a 7-seater limousine..

 

 
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

It cannot be denied that the lines are clearly reflecting those of Osmond Rivers' "Empress Line", that had been launched by the chief designer of Hooper several years ago – and for Hooper that had become a great success. However Freestone & Webb didn't have to point out subtle differences and changes because if there had been arguments these didn't result in a confrontation. After all this car was made more than 50 years ago and thus prior to present age, when it is not unheard of lawyers from competing Formula 1 teams are starting a court affair if only a dent in a spoiler seems to have been copied.

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith


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