Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

For information on the Silver Wraith II, see Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith 1955.jpg
1955 Silver Wraith with a body by Hooper & Co
Manufacturer Rolls-Royce Ltd
Production 1946–1958
1883 produced (incl. 639 LWB cars)
Body and chassis
Related Silver Dawn
Engine 4.3 L I6 1946-51
4.6 L I6 1951-55
4.9 L I6 1955-58
  • 4-speed manual with synchromesh 1946-1952
  • Hydramatic 1952-1958
Wheelbase 3225.8 mm (127 in) 1946-53 or:
3378.2 mm (133 in) 1951-58
Predecessor Wraith
Successor Long wheelbase Silver Cloud II
1956 Silver Wraith
touring limousine by H J Mulliner
Rear of the touring limousine

The Silver Wraith was the first post-war Rolls-Royce. It was made from 1946 to 1958 as only a chassis at Rolls-Royce's former Merlin engine plant, their Crewe factory, alongside the shorter Bentley Mark VI. The Bentley was available as a chassis for bespoke coachwork but also could be bought with a standard steel body.

It was announced by Rolls-Royce in April 1946 as the 25/30 hp replacement for the 1939 Wraith in what had been their 20 hp and 20/25 hp market sector, that is to say Rolls-Royce's smaller car. The size was chosen to be in keeping with the mood of post-war austerity. Even very limited production of the chassis of the larger car, their Phantom, was not resumed until 1950 and then, officially, only for Heads of State.[1]

Improvements announced were: chromium plated cylinder bores for the engine; a new more rigid chassis frame to go with new independent front suspension and a new synchromesh gearbox. Chassis lubrication was now centralised.[2]


The straight six-cylinder postwar engine, which had been briefly made for the aborted by war Bentley Mark V, replaced conventional overhead valve gear with an F-head configuration of overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves and reshaped combustion chambers. There were new main and big-end bearings and a more efficient drive to the timing gear. To this prewar mix Rolls-Royce added chromed bores. Initially, this engine retained the Mark V's capacity of 4257 cc. increased from 1951 to 4566 cc and in 1955, after the introduction of the (standard wheelbase) Silver Cloud, to 4887 cc for the remaining Silver Wraiths.[3]


The first cars had an entirely new 127 inch (3226 mm) wheelbase chassis which differed considerably from that of the pre-war Wraith and was much nearer rigid. It matched the new Bentley chassis but with an extra 7 inch section added to the centre. The new chassis had coil sprung independent front suspension, which required a very rigid chassis to function properly, and at the rear conventional semi-elliptic springs and live axle. The braking system was a hybrid hydro-mechanical system with hydraulic front brakes and mechanical rears using the mechanical servo similar to that of the pre-war cars.[4]

The last short-wheelbase cars were delivered in November 1953. The long, 133 inch (3378 mm), wheelbase chassis was announced in 1951 and the first delivered in January 1952. 639 were made by the time of the last deliveries in October 1958.

This was not quite the last Rolls-Royce model to be supplied as a "chassis only" ready for a wide variety of bespoke coachwork designed and made by a rapidly declining number of specialist coachbuilders.[5] Most of the bodies selected used "formal" limousine designs.[5]

Automatic transmission[edit]

Initially only a four-speed manual gearbox was offered, but this was supplemented by a General Motors Hydramatic automatic option from 1952.

Silver Dawn[edit]

From 1949 until 1955 customers wishing to buy their Rolls-Royce car fitted with the much smaller standard steel body could purchase Rolls-Royce's Silver Dawn. It was almost identical to Rolls-Royce's Bentley Standard Steel saloon that had been available alongside the Silver Wraith since July 1946. The Silver Wraith chassis was seven inches longer.

Official uses[edit]

Film appearances[edit]

Gallery of State Cars[edit]

Brazilian Presidential ceremonial state car during the 2007 Independence Day military parade. This car is a 1952 example. Note the large headlights mounted on the fenders rather than inset into the car
"Dev's car" presidential state car of Ireland 1947
Queen Margrethe of Denmark
The "Store Krone" on the streets of Roskilde
car delivered 1958
Queen Juliana's State landaulette.
By this time Rolls-Royce's other model was the Silver Cloud, and the Silver Wraith had come to look fairly similar to it—inset headlights, higher fenders, etc.
1956 Silver Wraith with clear perspex top
for Nubar Gulbenkian
by Hooper & Co


  1. ^ Peter Pugh The Magic of a Name: The Rolls-Royce Story, Part 2: The Power Behind the Jets 2015 Icon Books. ISBN 1848319630, ISBN 9781848319639
  2. ^ News in Brief. The Times, Thursday, Apr 04, 1946; pg. 2; Issue 50418
  3. ^ Culshaw & Horrobin 2013, pp. 252.
  4. ^ "Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum - Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith 1". Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum. 2008. Retrieved 2011-01-14.  External link in |work= (help)
  5. ^ a b "Spring Collection: Selection of new models announced at this week's Geneva Show". Autocar: 22–24. 19 March 1977. 

External links[edit]