alsancle

American Rolls Royce (Ghost, PI & PII)

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JV Puleo    183

No...not at least regarding the chassis. They were gone through and sold with a "new car" warranty. As for the bodies, I have heard that some, especially the Playboy roadster, was not as well built. But, it is hard to judge that from this distance in time. We have no idea what criteria the person who made that judgement used or even if they were qualified to judge and all of the cars are approaching 90 years old, if they haven't already reached that point.

 

The earliest Springfield RR bodies were not made by Brewster. The RR system of sending the chassis to the coach builder was not consistent with general American practice. A lot of potential customers expected to buy a car and get it then - not in 3 or 6 months when the coach builder was done. RR of America arranged to have a number of different bodies built to specific designs but not finished. I think that the Springfield Metal Body Company made some and I know that Frederick R. Wood made some also. The customer chose the colors, upholstery etc. but this way it was possible to get a car delivered in a few weeks rather than months. Oddly enough, the very first American Ghost was delivered to the customer without any body at all. The buyer was a Mr. Potter of the Potter & Johnson company (makers of turret lathes, many of which were used in the RR of America factory). He literally drove away form the factory sitting on a test bench. The car was never returned for service and literally disappeared. Potter & Johnson was in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the town I originally come from, and I've often entertained the fantasy of finding it.

 

As far as identifying a rebodied car, some bodies (like the Playboy) were never supplied on new chassis. I think that all the original records still exist so in most cases we know what body the car originally had. This might not be the case when it was delivered to a coach builder but even then there were differences in firewall, steering column, rear end ratios etc that would identify at least what type of body was originally mounted. Needless to say, none of the rebodies are limos or big sedans. All (or practically all) are roadsters or tourers. Also, keep in mind that the actual chassis of the Ghost and the PI is almost identical so a body that was on a Ghost will fit on a PI and a later PI body will fit on an earlier Ghost. At the time I bought it, I suspected that the huge limo I once owned (see above) may have been on a Ghost chassis. (I'm not certain the factory records were available then or I would have looked them up.)

Edited by JV Puleo
typo (see edit history)

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alsancle    437

Bob - nice to see you venture out of General.

 

Joe - great stuff.  Thank you.  Fantastic picture of William Brewster's car.  I agree on the blackwalls completely.

 

As for the tow truck.  The picture was given to me by the son of the man who built it.  Given what I know about Schumacher Motor Services,  I'm going to guess it was taken anywhere from 1928-1932.  After that the shop was renamed from "Prospect Street Garage" to "Schumacher Motor Service".

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Restorer32    514

We did a substantial amount of body work and paint on a '21 Ghost Locke bodied Tourer. I can tell you the body was anything but well built.  All of the door hardware differed from side to side, having been fabricated to work with the wood in the doors, which differed by as much as 1/2 inch from side to side.

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Walt G    61

I had a Springfield RR trouville town car with Brewster Body (S74PM) . Brewster built the style under license from Hibbard and Darrin who first designed it. I bought it from my friend Lew Smith of Garden City, NY.

Lew had about 5 Springfield PI RR's over the years , all 1927 iron cylinder head cars. The trouville (town car) body on mine was the second body, the first was a very tall perpendicular limousine. It seems that in 1933 the Brewster body company was taking PI Springfield cars and updating them . They replaced the earlier bodies with the lower profile coachwork that was in style in 1933, replaced the head and tail lights with the CM Hall units, changed fender lines from the rounded style popular in 1927 to the long flowing style like the ones that Ed shows on the Henley. They did keep the firewall, and also the German Silver radiator shell and shutters (all the rest of the car in the change over was chrome plated)

I have a large color sales catalog issued by RR/Brewster and it is date stamped 1933, shows the Henley etc. that I am guessing they used to promote an upgrade styling wise to RR owners.

I found 55 mph a comfortable cruising speed in my PI. I owned the car for 11 years, loved it, but was in denial that I actually fit comfortably behind the wheel. The fixed front seat and my long legs just combined to be a bit cramped.

I have tons of original period John Adams Davis photographs of RR's but no time to post, just to backed up in my research and writing for CCCA and HCC.

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edinmass    274

Walt, my photo that I posted was a York. I'm hard at work today.........this morning I took 357 out for a spin, that's Interstate 95 in Southern Florida.......six lanes wide. 

IMG_4942.JPG

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alsancle    437

Walt or Joe,  can you explain the differences in the heads?  I assume the later heads were an improvement?  Were there cracking issues with the aluminum?

 

Ed,  bring your Duesenberg stuff over to the Duesenberg thread and don't pollute the good thing we have going here!

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edinmass    274

AJ, I was only demonstrating how hard I am working in the Florida heat. Here is another photo of a tune up we are doing on our PII. Just a tune and tweek. 🤔

IMG_3313.PNG

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JV Puleo    183

The earliest PIs had iron heads. No one has much trouble with these and generally, iron head cars are (or once were) worth more because of that. The aluminum head was introduced in 1929. During the working life of the cars, it probably wasn't a problem but they haven't aged well. The alloy was not sympathetic to the anti-freeze available at the time and, by the time I was involved (in the early 70s) there were aluminum head cars sitting, unrepairable.  The late Frank Cooke undertook to make new heads. The earliest examples had overheating and water circulation problems. They were a very elaborate casting and I remember some discussion at the time regarding whether they may have been centrifugally cast. I was out of the RR business before this was resolved but my understanding is that the problems were worked out and that the new heads worked. I don't know how many were made or whether they are still available. My PI had a cracked aluminum head, which is probably why I could afford it. At the time of the sale, I was talking to a gentleman in New Jersey who repaired cracked castings. He understood the problem, had seen them before, and was confident he could fix mine. I passed that information on to the buyer and, as far as I know, he followed up and had it repaired. But, I suspect to this day knowledgeable  RR enthusiasts will want to know what condition the head is in before buying an aluminum head car.

 

Also, I found this tonight. The Brewster Ghost on the cover of the Bulb Horn, November/December, 1978. The house behind the car is Hearthside, in Lincoln, RI and is where the owner lived. The description of the car was my first published article.... and I made a big mistake. When describing the driver's compartment, I mixed it up with a very similar iron head PI we had at nearly the same time.

 

5981335eb6ae0_BulbHorn1978.thumb.jpg.b42592dba2bb2eb63dbbf8c4b4509a0c.jpg

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Walt G    61

When I had my PI, my mentor on things RR was Joe Star of Roslyn Heights , NY. Joe had a PII town car that was bought new by the Gardner family of Gardner's Island off long island.

Any who Joe explained , as was mentioned, the Alloy cylinder heads did not like the anti freeze solution and  after decades from the inside out would start to deteriorate, the bits of alloy that started to circulate in the cooling system would clog the radiator cores. So not only did you have to buy a new cylinder head or try to have one repaired, you had to also go for a radiator core.

The replacement bodies that I mentioned were equal to the bodies they replaced as they were built and fitted by Brewster and fenders, lamps, etc all fitted by Brewster as well in their factory in Long Island City at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge (aka as the 59th Street Bridge, and Ed Koch Bridge)

Ed you are correct the photo you showed was of a York roadster, not a Henley, my brain said York but fingers typed Henley!

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JV Puleo    183

All the American RRs had "cartridge core" radiators. These literally can't be cleaned once badly clogged although when right, they work splendidly. They can be a problem, even on cars other than the aluminum head PIs. Until about 8 years ago I had a clogged radiator (which otherwise looked perfect) in my cellar gathering dust. It came from a 1922 Ghost roadster with a Frederick R. Wood body. Many of these early cars were updated in the late 20s with smaller wheels and balloon tires. When they were rebodied, the belt line was raised about 2" and the radiator raised the same amount. It's quite rare to find one that is completely unaltered but the roadster in question had been exported to Ireland in 1924 and remained there until my friend bought it. It had the low radiator and its original 23" wheels. Unfortunately, the radiator was clogged (which may have been the reason it was retired... in the late 1960s!).  We found another Ghost radiator and I removed about 2" of tubes from the bottom and re-soldered the tanks. No one was more amazed than me when it worked and didn't leak.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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edinmass    274

Growing up in Western Mass I was fortunate to be exposed to several legendary Rolls Royce enthusiasts, Frank Cooke, Mr Jefferson, and one of the very important car mentors in my life, Ed Lake. Watching Ed work on his cars was always a great lesson, he worked slow and deliberately and always thought through the problem before he attempted to fix it. The most important thing Iearned from him was to enjoy the work and its challenges. He always had a smile on his face. Years later when he was in his late eighties and early nineties he would enjoy stopping by the shop to see "what you young fellers" is up too. He was hurting his last few years, but pushed through and still kept up doing useful work. He visited at the shop late one afternoon in his Rolls he had owned for more than sixty years(his son was driving), and passed away a few minutes later after he left the shop, on the way into the house just after arriving home in his PI. It was sad to see him go, but I am sure he was enjoying himself at the shop that day chatting with the boys. I only hope I get a last ride in my Pierce twelve just before I make my great exit, and wouldn't mind if I were in my ninth third year when it occurs. Every time I jump into the PI or PII, I always think of my friend who spent time with a young teen teaching him how to babbit and machine rods. He also taught me how to measure a crank. I would smile every time when he would look over a Pierce Arrow and compare it to a Rolls. His reaction would not include any verbal comment except on the rarest occasion. Just a nod or shake of his head. I sure miss the many people who have helped me along the way.......... they were all interesting people who liked to share their cars with a young kid running around town on his bycycle.  Ed

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JV Puleo    183

I met Ed Lake once, at one of those RROC "Tech Days" at Frank Cooke's. Frank had a car (probably a PI) up on a lift so people could walk under it. While I was looking up at the underside of the car, two gentlemen I'd met (I was probably the only person they recognized) came over and asked me what can only be called a nonsensical question. Neither knew anything about cars... they had just joined the RROC, having bought a Silver Wraith a few weeks earlier from a friend of mine. I'd actually demonstrated the car which is how they knew me. In any case, I said something like "I can't answer that because it doesn't make any sense at all" and went on to explain how whatever they were asking about did work. When they wandered off, an older gentleman came over to me and introduced himself. It was Ed Lake, who I had heard of but never met. He said how pleased he was that there were "young" guys learning this stuff... I was in my 20s then. He was probably as old as I am now.

Edited by JV Puleo
added a missing word (see edit history)

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JV Puleo    183

I doubt it... why would anyone reproduce things like the transmission or the rear end – or most of the brake parts? These things never wear out and are rarely missing since there is little demand for them as used parts. Maybe brake drums? Those would wear. The rear wheel brake adjusters on Ghosts and PIs have a stop to keep a mechanic from adjusting them to the point where the lining would wear through. I remember at least one SG I worked on where the stop was purposely broken off, so I imagine a worn out brake drum is possible. They aren't easy brakes to reline or at least, to do properly, because the original linings were actually "lapped" to the drums. The $300 PI chassis I bought years ago had all it's brake drums and running gear parts.

 

I bet the heads are really expensive - but cheap if you've got a car with a dodgy aluminum head.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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edinmass    274

Some stuff is available, quite a bit is not. The only thing that's cheap on a P1 or a PII is the owner.................most of the time!🤔

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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JV Puleo    183

Boy... to my eye that one is really ugly. It almost reminds me of the period nickname for the USS Monitor, a "cheesebox on a raft."

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JV Puleo    183

As to the first picture... the only significant difference between the ghost and the PI was the engine. Much of the chassis is virtually interchangeable. Probably most roadsters are later rebodies and were updated at the time. It is practically impossible to tell from a small photo which it is if it has the later body features. That car, with it's drum headlights could be either a late ghost or an early PI. The fact is, RR simply didn't appeal to to the sporting crowd anywhere near as much as it did to the very conservative limousine class. Roadsters were the sort of car they advertised but I think they mostly sold sedans and limos. Today, I'll bet half the surviving cars are "open." It would be interesting to go through the records and find out what percentage were open cars when delivered. I'll bet the numbers don't match and probably aren't even close. But... is a rebody done by RR of America a "modified car"? It certainly wouldn't be in my book.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)

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edinmass    274

That's the factory color, chrome yellow, a Packard factory color. The original interior was raspberry. It's a Disappearing Top car. Neat hardware on the car. Purchased new for a young lady's college graduation if my memory serves me. Photo taken last week with my trusty assistant.

IMG_4885.JPG

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alsancle    437

Ronny is putting on weight.  That is a fantastic car but if I was restoring it I would be in a quandary over sticking with the original color.

 

Anybody notice Norma Talmage's P1 on ebay?  115k or Best offer.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1930-Rolls-Royce-Phantom-/192254782881

 

The original owner of this 1930 Springfield Rolls Royce Phantom I Trouville was the famous film producer Joe Schenck, President of United Artists and later chairman of 20th Century Fox.  During the Golden Age of Hollywood he was one of the most powerful and influential people in the film business.  His personal Rolls Royce (now offered for sale) has attended many Hollywood Premiere events, and transported countless celebrities and stars of the silver screen.

 

 

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edinmass    274

The Rolls on ebay is owned by a very will known west coast craftsman, who I had the pleasure of meeting last month at the Pierce meet. It is a very nice automobile.

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