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Car of the Month - November 2001
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
Saloon with division by Nordberg, 1953, #LALW14

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith by Nordberg

During the pre-war period as regards Upper Crust motor cars it was common practice in Europe and particularly in the United Kingdom, to deliver only chassis cum engine. Choice of coachbuilder and body was left to the customer. The sale of complete cars had become more and more popular during the 30ies but Rolls-Royce decided to proceed unaltered when in 1946 the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith was launched as the company's first post-war model. Demand for complete cars ex factory was met by offering the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn and the sister models Bentley Mk VI and Bentley R-type. Hence it is fair to state that the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith has been the last chassis from the company, on which a wide variety of different coachwork-designs was realised, all of these reflecting individual preferences.

The lion's share of work was entrusted to English coachbuilders, although their number was dwindling. British designers (or the customers?) were rather reluctant to accept modern stylish lines, hence the majority of Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith appear very conservative. Top-class workmanship and high-value materials were used but the appearance was distinguished rather than dynamic. When Axel Johnsson, who had residences in England and in Sweden, placed an order for a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith he decided that his car should not receive coachwork from a coachbuilder in the UK.

Gustaf Nordberg's Vagnfabrik, located in Sweden's capital Stockholm, had been responsible for the bodies of some Rolls-Royce motor cars during the time before World War II. This long wheelbase Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith was delivered to that company. What ever could be said about their design certainly it didn't result in an appearance that made this one but a copy of an Icon of the Empire. Clearly this was a bold attempt to amalgamate a Rolls-Royce chassis and design ideas that were “en vogue” on the other side of the Atlantic at that time. The spacious saloon with division does offer a roomy boot, too. Headlamps were built into the front wings - and traffic indicators had been adopted that were more familiar from the Mercedes-Benz 300. Perhaps it was an interpretation of the idiom “form follows function” that Gustaf Nordberg boldly solved the problem caused by the gearlever on left-hand drive being attached to the steering column. Quick gear shifts quite often caused the drivers knuckle's to touch the dashboard's capping rail. The Swedish solution was to mould the wood appropriately. - Of course the moulding was most carefully covered with cushioned leather.

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Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith by Nordberg

Such attention to detail can be detected anywhere on this Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. Material and craftsmanship are to a tremendously high standard. During its lifetime this car enjoyed a similarly high standard as regards maintenance which no doubt is the decisive factor that the car is still in fine condition. 

Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith by Nordberg


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