1924 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

The Ghost Arises, or the 40/50 at 93
By Tom Miro

I was pretty sure had never seen a car so damn long in my life. When Doc Peden graciously brought his 1924 Rolls-Royce 40/50 limousine to the Pike Road Art Show and BMCM Car Display via rollback, the visitors to the show gathered around her shiny flanks like pilgrims to an automotive shrine. As well they should, I thought. I wondered how many of them knew the car had been described by Britain’s most discriminating automotive magazine as “the finest automobile in the world”. There are less than 1500 of these lovelies left worldwide. I took a peek at her posh interior, but not under the hood, as I expected working on such a treasure would be a pipe dream. Funny how things work out . . .

Blitz, our club’s resident Rolls guy, was hipdeep in Doc’s Corniche, hunting a treacherous electrical gremlin. He suggested, and Doc graciously agreed, that I have a peek at the grand lady and see what might be required. The first thing I noticed, after testing the engine wasn’t seized by using the hand crank(!), was the size of the engine. It was damn near as big as my first Miata! The second thing I noticed, and admired, was that the car was overbuilt, beautifully engineered, and complete, having been cared for by a specialist for some time, but having sat without running for at least a decade. It appeared all the old lady needed was a quick fuel system cleaning, and Bob’s your uncle, back on the road. I failed to comprehend what 10 years could do to gasoline and fuel systems.

I commenced by digging about three inches of green gack (technical term) out of the carb’s fist-sized float bowl, Luckily, the rugged brass construction withstood the insult with no damage, and the float and needle valve were in great shape. The fuel tank yielded about 8 gallons of foul-smelling crap that wouldn’t burn if you poured it on a fire. The varnish in there was beyond my reach and capability, and is currently being addressed by a specialist in Birmingham. I did, however, learn about the amazing varnish cutting power of powdered dishwashing soap. Really. Like buttah!

With the fuel system clean, the 12 spark plugs cleaned and gapped, and a fresh battery in place, all was ready – if only I had an owner’s manual. Thank God for the Aussies – their RROC website was a treasure trove for information about this near-century old car, with factory guidance for the chauffeur to maintain and operate the car. Thanks, guys!

With ether in Blitz’s hand, and a jury-rigged fuel IV bottle balance precariously on a shelf, I followed the guidance from the Net. It was like starting a Hawker Hurricane:

Ignition: Set to Battery/Magneto.
Mixture: Full Rich.
Timing: Full late.
Governor: Up ¼ of the range. 
Starting Carb: To Start.
Engage the starter button on the firewall.

No joy, dammit . . .  Wait, the starter engages the transmission, not the flywheel, so release the clutch. Eureka!  She’s spinning, and with Blitz’s spritz of the good stuff, she was running! After that excitement, getting her ready to drive was almost anti-climactic.

Getting behind the wheel of this great lady is a bucket list item for me, and it simply would not have happened had her owner not trusted her to me. Thanks, Doc, for everything!

On the road again with a temporary petrol tank (while the original is being refurbished) and a niggling fuel delivery issue, now resolved.  It looks like it’s motoring down a proper English lane.  Doctor Peden can be seen (in Motoring down the lane, Part 2 video) in the back seat, wearing his Russian general’s hat. [More PHOTOS HERE] and glamour shots HERE.

Rolls Royce Chauffeur’s Tutorial

Video Chronicles

June 06, 2017

Start up checklist

Waking the Ghost

June 22, 2017


Happy engine


Motoring down the lane – Part 1

Motoring down the lane – Part 2

Tom at the Wheel

July 28, 2017

Waking the Ghost – Part 1

Waking the Ghost – Part 2

Motoring down the Lane – Part 3

Tom Hand-Cranking the Ghost

Putting the Ghost to Bed