Seeing a six-decade-old white Rolls-Royce motoring along an Interstate highway on a drizzly December Saturday has one likely explanation: A wedding. A least that’s the most plausible explanation for this car’s appearance on I-66, as Rolls-Royces have long been coveted for wedding transportation. Regardless of its purpose, the magnificent sight of a Silver Wraith in motion adds graceful elegance to any occasion.
Rolls-Royce produced 1,883 Silver Wraiths between 1946 and 1958 (it was an evolution of the pre-war Wraith). Importantly, this was Rolls-Royce’s last major model to be offered without factory-built coachwork, as Silver Wraiths were produced as rolling chassis, with bodywork fitted by coachbuilders.
Silver Wraith bodies were fashioned by firms such as H.J. Mulliner, James Young, Freestone and Webb, and Hooper, the creator of our featured car’s design. While there was no such thing as a “standard Silver Wraith,” some designs were more common than others, and the Hooper-bodied Touring Limousine like our featured car was one of the more prevalent variants – the general design was shown in Rolls-Royce catalogs.
When referring to Silver Wraiths, however, prevalent hardly means ordinary. If there’s a more graceful automotive sight than one of these cars cruising down a highway, I haven’t seen it. In today’s world of angry-looking vehicle designs, this Rolls-Royce stands as an unmistakable counterpoint. The Silver Wraith’s dignified, flowing lines haven’t diminished one bit since the 1950s, and likely justified the $18-20,000 price tag (about $200,000 in modern dollars) all on its own. Of course, the styling was accompanied by an interior of exquisite leather, rich wood veneers, plush carpet, and luxuries such as a cocktail bar, which certainly added to its appeal.
There are probably few more exquisite ways to begin a marriage than a ride in a timelessly elegant car such as this Silver Wraith. Not that I’d know… after all, my wife and I made do with a rented Pontiac Grand Am on our wedding day. No chauffeur, either. But I sure would have loved a ride in one of these instead! If this particular car is indeed a wedding chariot, I wish the lucky couple a marriage as long and smooth as their hired Rolls-Royce!
Photographed in Falls Church, Virginia in December, 2021.