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This formal pavilion juxtaposing stone and mechanics, tradition and innovation hosts a spectacular set of cars from the legendary Silver Ghost series on which the firm's early reputation was forged. Originally known as the “Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP”, it caused a sensation at the Olympia Car Show in London in 1906 for its sleek lines, flexibility and, above all its reliability.

Built on the No. 13 Chassis, the entire series was dubbed ‘Silver Ghost’, not so much for the silvery colour of the bodywork as for the relative silence of the engine. The “Silver Ghost” –with its six-cylinder engine on a four-seat chassis– entered the history books in July 1907 after completing a reliability and resistance trial which involved covering the distance between Glasgow and London 27 times. The car passed the test with flying colours, completing the 23,000-kilometre run in forty days without a single breakdown, an unprecedented feat at the time. Its fame was cemented by the papers, which dubbed it “the best car in the world” and gave it its definitive name of “Silver Ghost”.

The reliability of the car’s mechanics was matched by the versatility of the engine. The solid chassis could be adapted to a great variety of bodies, from luxurious long-chassis saloons to sports models that took part in tough endurance tests and even the famous “Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars”. These remarkable combat vehicles, designed in 1914 for use in the desert, had added horsepower, armour-plated bodies and a turret for the machine gunner. They performed so well in inhospitable terrain that Lawrence of Arabia once famously remarked that “a Rolls in the desert is above rubies”.

To meet strong American demand for the model, in 1921 Rolls Royce opened the only factory outside England in Springfield, Massachusetts, which produced 1703 units. The famous No. 13 silver chassis manufactured in England with a body by coachbuilder Barker, registered as AX 201, which was originally designed for advertising campaigns, is today considered to be one of the most valuable cars in the world. It is currently owned by Bentley Motors, which uses it for benefit events and official occasions.

Alongside these gems is the oldest vehicle in the collection, an 1899 Allen Runabout of which possibly only three examples survive. Its carriage-like appearance (it doesn't even have a steering wheel!) hides some surprising mechanics. A single-cylinder engine transmits the power to the rear wheels by chains and the vehicle has a maximum speed of 20 km/h.

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