How do you draw the line between an eccentric millionaire and a standard millionaire? Back in the 40s, if you have a custom ordered sexy 1947 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith that features a 4-seet convertible coachwork made by Inskip with a black lacquer finish then you’re an eccentric millionaire.
Although it now features a striking deep purple finish, the original condition of the car would still be a head-turner during the 1949 New York Motor Show. It originally had a black lacquer finish with custom fenders and more “sporting cut-down windscreen”. The original price of this eccentric classic was $22,500 and was only showed to the public over a year later after it was ordered. It had to cross the Atlantic Ocean aboard the SS Ford Musquarro for its body which was made by J.S. Inskip Inc., a coachwork building company that also distributed Rolls-Royce in Manhattan.
Although it does not have a unique origin, what’s interesting about this car is its transformation through the years. The original owner of this car was Thomas “Tommy” Manville Jr. who inherited a hefty $10 million in ’25. Thomas went wild with his spending and built the “Bon Repos” mansion, a 28-room mansion in Long Island Sound. According to Gooding & Company, the compound “featured a radio and record player in every room, a telephone switchboard in the master bedroom, a movie theater, and watchtowers staffed by armed guards.” He was well known to have lived an extravagant life and was a regularly publicized socialite. It’s not surprising that he became quite a celebrity during his life.
To match his lavish lifestyle, he custom ordered this 1947 Rolls-Royce on the whim and just 3 years later, he tried to sell the car for only half the original price. If we consider the inflation rate, the original price of the car would be around $250,000 and sold it for around $113,000. As stated by its ad, “most expensive Rolls-Royce convertible ever sold in the U.S.A” but it failed to sell. In 1953, Thomas swapped the car to an undertaker from Baltimore, Maryland, named Elroy Wilson for his Wilson’s Bentley Continental. It is said that the two bumped into each other at the Atlantic City Harbor after their boats almost met an accident.
Around 10 years later, it was passed down to its 3rd owner, Judge North, but with a completely new look. It “had been painted white and customized by a Baltimore body shop to incorporate Buick chrome wire wheels, Cadillac rear fenders, and a four-foot air horn on each door”. It was fortunately enough that the shop who worked the rebuild stored all of the original parts of the car. The Inskip coachwork has been remounted to the car and was restored back to its original condition. It remained as part of North’s collection up to the 80s when it was bought by Noel Thompson, a collector from New Jersey. Under Thompson’s care, the Silver Wraith was featured in several concours d’elegance and received some restoration to further bring out its classic beauty. Because it survived for so many years, several collectors have recognized its value and has been well taken cared of, more than its original owner.
Unsurprisingly, Thomas Manville was a valued customer of Rolls-Royce. Aside from the 1947 Silver Wraith, he also custom ordered a Phantom I York Roadster, Phantom II Henley Roadster, A Newmarket Convertible Sedan, a Phantom III with an Inskip body, and a Croydon Victoria. All of which were expensive custom orders which he only used for a short time and was then traded for other cars.
And as often as he changed cars, the same can be said about his marriages. He was married for thirteen times to eleven different women, most of which were from the Broadway chorus lines.
Its current configuration features a 4,257 CC F-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine capable of producing 125 horsepower and it matched to a 4-speed manual transmission. The chassis features independent front suspension with coil springs and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs. The interior features flawless tan leather seats.
This beautiful 1947 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Convertible with a deep purple finish has regularly won major awards from some of the most famous concours d’elegance. An excellent example of the postwar Rolls-Royce classics and because of its incredibly rare status and a well-documented half-century history, this Silver Wraith has earned a lot of praise from several known collectors. An excellent example of the postwar Rolls-Royce classics.
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