Lot 322 - 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Keswick Town Car by Brewster
|Odometer reading||95,460 miles|
|Estimate||£52,000 - £60,000|
The early history of Rolls-Royce in America is inextricably entwined with that of the Brewster & Co. Coachworks who contributed some of the most elegant, sporting and attractively proportioned bodies fitted to any Rolls-Royce chassis in the world. In 1925, Rolls-Royce bought Brewster & Co., making Brewster its primary supplier of coachwork in America. Eventually, well over 400 Springfield-built Rolls-Royces were Brewster-bodied. Phantom I production continued in Springfield, Massachusetts after the Phantom II was introduced in England in 1929, but the Springfield Phantom I was then phased out in 1931 in favour of the Derby-built, lefthand drive Phantom II. The Phantom II offered a more refined, updated chassis with an improved engine and cylinder head, with the engine now mounted in unit with the gearbox. Chassis improvements included hydraulic shock absorbers and semi-elliptic leaf springs. A considerable reduction in ride-height resulted, lending itself to sleeker and more modern body designs. In 1930, the Rolls-Royce of America operation in Springfield knew it was in trouble. The magnitude of the Depression was becoming obvious and the Springfield manufacturing operation was closed with Brewster now becoming an importer-distributor for Rolls-Royce in the US. The problem was that the new Phantom II, as introduced in the UK, was not considered suitable for the US market; for example, the Springfield Phantom I was left-hand drive, had thermostatic radiator shutters, a complete 'one-shot' chassis lubrication system, easier to maintain chrome brightwork and smaller, more stylish 20-inch wheels. Springfield agreed to buy 200 lefthand drive Phantom II's if the British factory would make all the improvements considered necessary for the US market. Rolls-Royce agreed and the result of the development program was a delightful car with an improved top speed, a lower chassis and quieter operation than the Springfield-built Phantom I. In fact, the improvements inspired Derby to incorporate all of them (except lefthand drive) into all Phantom II's, commencing with chassis JS1. The first deliveries of the lefthand drive Phantom II chassis began in the spring of 1931. The Brewster coachworks were ready with its designs for the new Phantom II chassis when it arrived. Whilst some of the designs were warmed-over Phantom I body styles, some were indeed fresh. The Newport Town Car for traditional chauffeur-driven use and the Henley Roadster for the owner-driver, represented the first of the new designs. Ultimately, the contract for 200 lefthand drive cars from Derby was never fulfilled but 116 were sold in North America, three into Canada and six in Europe.
This lefthand drive, Derby built Rolls-Royce Phantom II chassis was delivered to the Brewster Coachworks, New York, to have this beautiful Keswick Town Car body fitted and subsequently supplied, in April 1931, to the first owner. Having never been restored, this car is in very original condition. The vendor tells us that the car is in good order and recently passed an MoT test for registration in the UK. It is finished with the original black exterior paint with the bespoke 'Brewster' front and rear bumpers while the interior is also completely original with leather front seats and tan cloth to the rear and, on inspection, the rear occasional seats appear like new, having had very little use in the past eighty years. As with all the cars that came from Brewster & Co., this one is very well appointed; in the rear compartment there are blinds to the side windows as well as the back window giving the occupants complete privacy. An eight day wind up clock - still keeping excellent time - is fitted to the wood facia below the driver's division glass. This car is supplied with a V5C registration document and an MoT test certificate which expires in March 2013. A rare opportunity to buy a lefthand drive Rolls-Royce with such an elegant, 1930's body style.
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Buyers are advised to inspect the car in person or use a professional to carry out this service.