I just saw a Ghost: Take a peek inside a 1909 Rolls-Royce
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Sept. 11, 2019
DETROIT – A stunning Rolls-Royce so old it predates the brand’s famous Flying Lady hood ornament is just one of the great cars on tap for the 2019 Concours d’Elegance of America and a full weekend of events July 26-28.
The gleaming 1909 Silver Ghost features an ornate horn that bleats warnings through the mouth of a glaring serpent mounted on its front fender.
The Concours, which annually draws thousands of visitors and hundreds of classic cars from across the country to Detroit, culminates a weekend of auto events.
The event, on the campus of the Inn at St. John’s conference center and hotel in Plymouth, just west of Detroit, will include Ferrari racing and sports cars, a tribute to the history of Cadillac’s tailfins, top cars from a Rolls-Royce club show that weekend in Troy, 1970s through 1990s collectibles including some of the first great Japanese performance cars, Woodie station wagons of all brands, six rare V16 Cadillacs from collector of the year John Groendyke, and a tribute to the muscle car class of 1969.
Close-up with a legend
The 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is a trove of history and amazing details.
Powered by its original 40/50 hp straight-six engine with two spark plugs per cylinder, it’s owned by LBI Limited, dealer in collectible cars of all eras.
Some of what makes it special:
It has nickel trim because 1909 was before chrome was used on cars.
The Rolls-Royce badge on its hood has red letters, the color used before RR co-founder Henry Royce died in 1933. Rolls switched to black in mourning then.
The open-topped body is a style called Roi de Belges.
Silver Ghosts are famous for being easy to drive, so its owners racked up 8,000 miles on scenic routes and even highways since its last restoration in 1999.
One owner, John O’Quinn, was a lawyer who won landmark judgments against Philip Morris and breast implant manufacturers. Born poor, he amassed 1,200 cars before his death in 2009.
It’s worth $1.4 million-$1.5 million.
A weekend of events, some free
The Concours, which stretches across much of the Inn at St. John’s golf course, puts the spotlight on cars from a wider variety of types, brands and eras than most classic car shows.
Events, some of them free, include:
300 classics at the Inn at St. John’s.
Motoring tours for the classics that include the new GM Mobility test track at Kettering University in Flint, and the Cranbrook house and gardens in Bloomfield Hills.
A dinner and silent auction benefiting Project Beautiful Inside & Out.
Seminars on Ferrari racing and GM design.
A cars and coffee gathering that draws hundreds of vehicles and enthusiasts.
The British Invasion, a salute to brands including Morgan, Mini, Lotus, Jaguar and Triumph.
This 2018 Ferrari Portofino will be at the Concours d'Elegance of America, July 28, in Plymouth.
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