Like the masterpieces that came a century before, the Ghost is one of the finest cars in the world.
For many, a Rolls-Royce is the ultimate status symbol. It doesn't matter if you're being chauffeured around in the recently updated Phantom or swanning about in the smaller Ghost, owning a Rolls is the best way to show the world you've made it in life. Aside from the decadence and ultra-smooth ride, part of the appeal has to do with tradition. Goodwood's history is littered with examples of excellence, like the original Silver Ghost.
Perhaps one of the most iconic Rolls-Royce models, the Silver Ghost cemented the company's reputation for unparalleled quality and durability. With these positive associations, it's no surprise the Ghost nameplate has remained after all this time. At a recent owners club event, Rolls-Royce decided it would be a wonderful idea for the original to meet its namesake, an astonishing 114 years after its debut.
In terms of exterior design, the modern-day Ghost couldn't be more different than its spiritual predecessor. Where the Silver Ghosts are upright and stately, the "post-opulence" theme applied to the contemporary Ghost results in a far more restrained and inconspicuous look. Sleek they may be, but the vintage models get the nod in terms of beauty and elegance.
The open-top Claret model you see here was built in 1923 and was originally supplied new to the United Kingdom as a limousine. Four decades later, it was brought over to the United States where it soon found refuge in the caring hands of Doug and Mary White. A garage queen it is not; the North Carolina-based couple drive their Silver Ghost regularly and have covered more than 100,000 miles in the grand old dame.
Trips to South Africa and Europe are impressive enough, but the intrepid duo has even steered the Rolls on a 12,000-mile round trip to Alaska.
The 1921 Silver Ghost has been in the USA for nearly 100 years. Originally sold to an Ohio-based retailer, the stately Brit has been well-preserved over its long life. Not only does it boast 25 of the 28 original tools it was sold with but, remarkably, it still has the original handbooks from the factory. It may not be quite as adventurous as its slightly younger sibling, but the owners use the Silver Ghost on special occasions, such as shows and tours.
The Silver Ghost comes from a time when coachbuilding was de rigeur. Monied customers bought a rolling chassis and an engine and then took it to a company that would put their personal touch on the mechanical masterpiece. Mulliner Park Ward is a well-known example, but both of these Silver Ghosts were bodied by Smiths. Of course, the new models all have the same elegant bodywork but Goodwood's phenomenal Bespoke service adds a unique touch to every vehicle.
The Ghost is a hugely important car for the brand and has brought thousands of customers to the Rolls-Royce fold since the first generation was introduced in 2010. "Ghost remains one of the most popular members of our family. No name has been more successful...over the past century and especially over the past 20 years marking the Goodwood era," said the company's Martin Pritchard.
Not known to mess with tradition, Rolls-Royce will soon step out of its comfort zone with the Spectre, its first-ever production electric vehicle. Customers used to the punch of a near-silent V12 will be right at home in the battery-powered Spectre. Rumors suggest it will pack up to 650 horsepower, which should be more than adequate for most needs.
It's only a matter of time before the company's most popular model also goes the way of the Spectre, but we don't expect that to happen too soon.