Only one car maker has the lock on “the first name in luxury”: Rolls Royce. Suffice it to say that it will never make a subcompact, economy model for commuters and soccer moms.
America's Car Museum's Willoughby Body Tilbury Rolls Royce illustrates that. The car in the LeMay Collection was built at the Rolls Royce of America’s plant in Springfield, Mass. It was a special order for Clarissa Alice Kyes Inman, the widow of the founder of Inman-Poulsen Lumber of Portland, Ore. Robert Inman had died in 1920, so his widow took up interest in the company.
Clarissa Inman even became a business magnate in her own right by being the inventor of the first electric curling iron, which was manufactured in Chicago and sold through Western Electric and Marshall Field & Co. Her business success lead to her ordering the 1929 Silver Ghost, which seemingly had everything top-of-the-line, even by Rolls Royce standards.
Henry Royce had designed the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost as a replacement for his six-cylinder "Thirty" series. Introduced at the Olympia Motor Show, the revamped car became the longest-running single model next to the Model T Ford, German-made Volkswagen Beetle and the British-made Cooper Mini.
The car dubbed the “Silver Ghost” for its mix of flash and whisper-quiet, 86-horsepower engine is also well known as the most famous luxury car in history. The Silver Ghost also remains the most desirable model among antique cars. Rolls-Royce of America Inc. manufactured nearly 3,000 Silver Ghosts and Phantoms before succumbing to the Great Depression.
There were 138 Silver Ghosts built with the Tilbury-style body built by Willoughby & Co., making the LeMay car a collectable within a series of collectables. Rolls Royce “Tillburies” rarely come up for auction, but they do change hands from time to time, for a “discounted” price tag of around $125,000.