Like the Silver Ghost, Rolls-Royce of America, Inc. produced their US domestic Phantoms from Springfield, Massachusetts. These vary in detail from their English counterparts, but had the same successful engineering under their American bodies. Production began in 1926, one year after the English cars.
Many of the American cars came with bodies produced in house by Rolls-Royce Custom Coachwork which unified the Springfield Phantoms somewhat. The purchase of Brewster & Co. in January of 1926 meant that many Phantoms were bodied in Long Island City in one of 26 distinct designs by Brewster’s designer, Carl Beck.
Like the English Phantom, the new model greatly updated the Springfield Silver Ghost chassis and running gear. It was Rolls-Royce of America’s flagship model until the Phantom II was released in 1929. Due to the high costs of factory tooling and the great depression, the Phantom II was produced exclusively in England.
Compared to the Silver Ghost, the single biggest upgrade was made to the engine which was cast in two blocks, each having three cylinders and detachable cylinder heads. With a pushrod, overhead valvetrain, the 7,668 cc unit was powerful enough to move around large cars. The engine’s under square engine could run smoother and a lower rpm with a favorable torque curve.
The engine was attached to a separate 4-speed gearbox unit through a rubber coupling to reduce vibration. Power was send to the rear wheels though a torque tube. A complex system of levers and suspension required constant oiling to as many as 50 separate points. The standard chassis was 143.5 inches long and a long wheel base model 150.5 inches. Other upgrades from the Phantom included a disc-type clutch and adjustable radiator shutters.
Throughout production, the Phantom was upgraded in detail such as the cylinder which was cast in aluminum from 1928 onward.
Our feature example is one of the most desirable Springfield phantoms as bodied by Brewster in the York Roadster style. Purchased new in 1929, chassis S381LR cost $18,000 and was the most expensive body available. Only five cars were fitted with the York Roadster body.
1927 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Peter Lamm Speedster S155PM – sold for $214,500 This Phantom I was delivered new to Hollywood actor Lewis Stone on Christmas Eve 1927, and it first wore an enclosed seven-passenger Arundel design by Brewster. After years of faithful service, in the early 1970s, the low-mileage, excellent-condition chassis was re-bodied in Australia, by Peter Lamm’s team of skilled coachbuilders, as an exact reproduction of another Brewster body, the Derby, which was a fully collapsible, four-passenger sporting body. Auction Source: Amelia Island 2014 by RM Auctions
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Brewster Ascot Tourer S398KP – sold for $335,000 The Ascot was restored by Crossthwaite & Gardner during his ownership in England, where it was painted in the elegant period-correct colors that it wears today. It was carefully maintained but seldom used over the passing years. Recently, it was refreshed by respected restorer Chris Charlton, who sorted the car properly, including installing new blackwall tires, flushing the fuel tank, and cleaning the carburetor. Mr. Charlton notes that the car is among the most pristine and accurate of surviving Ascots, with the most desirable combination of features, and that the restoration has held up rather well. Underneath, in fact, it still appears clean and virtually as it was when completed.
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Brewster Derby Speedster S158FR – sold for $1,980,000 Arguably the Most Beautiful Classic Rolls-Royce. Exceptionally Sporting Brewster Coachwork. One of Only Four Derby Speedsters Extant. Genuine Example with Original Chassis, Body, and Engine. Owned by Respected Rolls-Royce Connoisseurs Since 1959. Pictured in John Webb de Campi’s Rolls-Royce in America. Restored by Clay Cook and Beautifully Maintained Since. Former CCCA and AACA First Prize Winner. Second in Class at the 1992 Pebble Beach Concoours d’Elegance. A Very Rare and Important Example of the Marque.
1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Berline Brewster Trouville S241FP – sold for €43,125 ‘S241FP’ is described as generally presentable; the paintwork is original, retaining Mary Rutter’s initials, while the nickel/German Silver brightwork, the leather/cloth interior and the electrics are likewise entirely original. The electrics are in full working order; including the buzzer to call your chauffeur! The engine turns over and appears in generally good condition, although the cylinder head has at some time suffered a freeze crack. Included in the sale is a spare cylinder head that has benefited from previous repairs. Representing a wonderful opportunity to acquire a rare and elegant Phantom preserved in highly original condition, ‘S241FP’ is offered with copies of factory build sheets and customs documents showing EU duties paid. Auction Source: 2013 Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais
1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Springfield Ascot Sport Phaeton S364LR – sold for $363,000 Sporting open coachwork. Well maintained older restoration. Fascinating early provenance, including Alphonzo E. Bell and Dave Garroway. Formerly in the Collection of Richard and Linda Kughn . S364LR is one of the rarest and most desirable of all Springfield Rolls-Royces. Well preserved, it is a particularly elegant design of a beautifully engineered motor car. Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Riviera Town Brougham – sold for €504,000 Offered from the Estate of John M. O’Quinn. One of only 10 bodied by Brewster & Co. Fascinating provenance, documented by Beverly Rae Kimes. Formerly owned by James H.R. Cromwell. Multiple awards, including 2003 Pebble Beach Class Winner and J.B. Nethercutt Award for Most Elegant Automobile. Magnificent gold-plated exterior trim with original exterior cane work. Auction Source: RM 2011 Villa d’Este Auction
1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Brewster Riviera Town Car S184PM – sold for $687,500 his Riviera Town Car, unlike most of the Springfield Rolls-Royce, was sent to Europe. In 1935, the car was purchased for Mrs. George Blumenthal and sent to her home at 15 Boulevard de Montmorency in Paris. Although strikingly Brewster, the Riviera received certain French touches, such as coach lamps with Mrs. Blumenthal’s initials and, most noticeably, the Marchal headlamps. The car must have been quite a sight in Paris or parked before the Bl
umenthal Chateau in Grasse, near Cannes.
When it was discovered, the enchanting motorcar had been used sparingly and wore a lovely patina from the 1950s. The interior was found to be wonderfully original and the car was complete down to its Marchal headlamps, engraved coach lamps and even a personal dash plaque in memory of its time in France. The car soon received the attention it needed, beginning with a full strip to bare aluminum. The coachwork was found to be in marvelous condition with remarkably straight original panels. It was then painted in the striking color combination of taupe and black, which it wears today. The chassis and interior also received attention to some needed detailing and repair, while still preserving the lovely originality and integrity of the car. A full mechanical inspection was performed by a marque specialist affirming all instincts that S184PM was a very tight, low- mileage chassis.
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Roadster S303LR – sold for $286,000 Springfield chassis S303LR carries with it an extensive and interesting ownership history. It was bodied originally as a Newmarket four-passenger convertible sedan when sold new in 1929 to its first owner, A.V. Frost of New York City. At some point in the 1930s, the original Newmarket body was removed, and a Picadilly Roadster body (which had been originally installed on sister chassis S140FR) was mounted. Finally, in 1940, S303LR received its
Henley Roadster body, installed at the factory. Believed to carry number 6003, it must have been removed from another chassis. Since all the original Henley roadsters were first installed on Phantom II chassis, it is almost certain that the body now carried by S303LR was removed from one of these later Phantom II chassis.
Such movement of coachwork from chassis to chassis was not uncommon at the time. Many Rolls-Royces had been purchased by wealthy older patrons. Their cars tended to be little used, well cared for, and to carry heavy, relatively unattractive formal coachwork. The factory, desperate for sales, would readily accept such cars back in part exchange on a new sale. Once in inventory, however, their heavy formal coachwork looked old fashioned and was most difficult to sell. Roadsters and other sporting bodies tended to have been ordered by younger clients and driven harder. It didn’t take long for the factory to realize that remounting the sporting bodies on the excellent low mileage chassis taken on trade resulted in a very good and highly saleable car.
A full, professional restoration was performed on S303LR approximately 25 years ago. As offered today, it continues to present very well overall, notwithstanding some cracking paint at the rear and an older convertible top, as noted during a recent inspection.
As offered, this distinctive Rolls-Royce also comes complete with a remarkably detailed ownership history. Carefully stored and well-maintained, this Brewster-bodied Phantom I Henley Roadster is a superb example of a very rare, sporting and sought-after Rolls-Royce.
1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I York Roadster S381LR – sold for $986,000 The black Phantom I pictured here has chassis number S381LR and was constructed by Rolls-Royce of America, Inc. in Springfield, Massachusetts. It received a body by Brewster & Company in Long Island City, New York. Its sports roadster body was the most expensive style offered for the Phantom chassis. The body number 5599 indicates that this was the first of five such bodies produced. This car was originally delivered new to T.F. Manville Jr. on September 19, 1930. Mr. Manville paid nearly $18,000 to acquire this car.
In the late 1980s, Mr. Davis reluctantly sold the York Roadster to its current caretaker who has continued to treasure this important Rolls-Royce. Since then, the York has always been entrusted to noted Rolls-Royce specialist Rick Hamlin. Mr. Hamlin has ensured that the car is regularly exercised, meticulously maintained and highly original.
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé S182PM – sold for $238,000 Right-hand drive chassis number ‘S182PM’ is a Springfield Phantom I built in December 1926/January 1927 and originally fitted with a Brewster Chatsworth town car body. No record of its sale with the Chatsworth body can be found, but the car was almost certainly displayed for a year or so in one or more Rolls-Royce showrooms with that body. ‘S182PM’ was later fitted with this Brewster Henley body carrying Brewster number ‘B6004’. John W de Camp, author of Rolls-Royce in America, believes that this may be one of two prototype Henleys – the very first ones built. The other prototype carries body ‘B6003’ that eventually (circa 1940) ended up on chassis ‘S303LR’, moved there from chassis ‘S140FR’. The Henleys on the Phantom II chassis have much higher numbers, typically between ‘B7300’ and ‘B7600’. There were two Henleys on the PI chassis and nine on the PII chassis.