alsancle

American Rolls Royce (Ghost, PI & PII)

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Yes, Agreed. I have seen some photos that appear to be factory showing some Springfield Ghosts with a fairly

narrow single bar bumper, front and back. Most though, seemed to have the tubular bumpers.

 

From my clamps, I surmise that I am looking for a set of the flat single bar type.

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Bonhams has this very nice Derby from the Lee collection.

 

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25221/lot/156A

 

Offered from the esteemed Robert M. and Anne Brockinton Lee Collection
1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Derby Dual Cowl Tourer
Coachwork by Brewster

Chassis no. S402MR
Engine no. 22029
7,668cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine
Single carburetor
100bhp at 3,000rpm
Three-speed manual transmission
Front semi-elliptical leaf springs and rear cantilever spring suspension
Four-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes

*Iconic collaboration of Rolls-Royce and Brewster
*One of only 14 built and 11 to survive today
*Ex-James Leake Collection,
*Featured in de Campi's
Rolls-Royce in America
*Unseen publicly for decades

THE PHANTOM I DERBY

Introduced by Rolls-Royce in 1925 to replace the Silver Ghost, the New Phantom (retrospectively known as the Phantom I) boasted an entirely new overhead-valve six-cylinder engine displacing 7,668cc and, like the contemporary 20hp model, adopted a disc-type clutch and adjustable radiator shutters. Its chassis though, remained essentially the same as that of the later, four-wheel-braked Silver Ghost and would continue fundamentally unchanged until the arrival of the Phantom II in 1929 brought with it an entirely new frame.

Like its 'Ghost predecessor, the New Phantom was also produced by Rolls-Royce of America Incorporated, a subsidiary set up in December 1919 when the parent company purchased the American Wire Wheel Company's plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Springfield commenced manufacture of the New Phantom in 1926 and by the second half of 1929 production had risen to 12 cars per week. This would prove to be the high point of Rolls-Royce of America's fortunes, the October '29 Wall Street Crash and the introduction of the Phantom II - re-tooling for which the US company could not afford – signaling the beginning of its decline. The Phantom I was in production for only five years and the UK-built models ran parallel with the Springfield cars but ended in 1929, whereas the Americans continued until 1931.

Unlike its British-built counterpart, the American product could be ordered with 'factory' bodywork, usually by Brewster, the latter company having been taken over by Rolls-Royce in December 1925. As well as manufacturing coachwork of the highest quality, Brewster had built its own automobiles from 1915 up to the time of its acquisition by Rolls-Royce, re-emerging as an auto-maker in its own right, using Ford chassis, when US Phantom production finally ceased in 1934 and the company became part of the reconstituted Springfield Manufacturing Corporation.

Of all the bodies that Brewster built on Springfield chassis it is the Derby that has become the most hallowed. They are without doubt one of the best-looking cars of the period of any coachbuilder and, represent the pinnacle of Brewster design, with the dished aluminum molding stretching from stem to stern, cutaway doors and compact tail. The fact that they quite literally appear to be moving when standing still alludes to their sporting pretensions and eschews much of the preconceptions of the brand.

Only 14 Derby Tourers were ever built and it is thought that of those a mere 11 survive to this day, a further 4 Speedster versions which are identical save for kick up rear fenders complete this neat batch of automobiles. All are universally coveted and rarely change hands the last such examples being offered publicly more than 6 years ago.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This example comes with a pedigree that could hardly be bettered, being offered directly from the collection of one of the foremost collectors of the marque Robert M. Lee. It was acquired by him in the heyday of his acquisitions of Rolls-Royce, when a number of mythical examples of the brand joined his collection including icons such as London-Edinburgh Silver Ghosts and several unique coachbuilt Silver Clouds.

S402MR could chart an equally important history preceding this, it had been built as one of the last Phantom Ones, and as such benefits from details such as its late series C. M. Hall torpedo head and sidelights, which are more befitting of the rakish bodywork than the earlier 'drum' design.

Of course, for Rolls-Royce, a wonderful aspect of the quality of the marque is that they were vociferous record keepers and information on build and ownership is known from day one. The original owner was one Mrs. Margaret Dunlop of Amsterdam, New York, whose husband David had heralded from the British Isles in Scotland and she from Ireland, perhaps accounting for a leaning towards the iconic British car builder, and a wish to own a blend of the best of these two nations either side of the Atlantic.

S402MR was the last Phantom One to have worn Derby Tourer bodywork from new, something that is not common since body switches even in those days were frequent, as Brewster and Rolls frequently updated cars to resell them. Mrs. Dunlop received the Rolls two days before Valentine's Day 1930 and would retain it for seven years. Ownership after this remained in New York state, first with another lady, Mrs. Dorothy Tuckerman then in March 1939 it moved out onto Long Island and into the possession of Francis DeBeixedon of Easthampton. From this point the car transferred across the country, leaving East Coast ownership to pass to F. Ryden Skinner of Alta Lodge, Utah in 1945. The following year it migrated right across the country and to San Diego, becoming the property of Lester P. Wegeforth.

According to the Rolls-Royce Owner's Club, the Derby was already in the ownership of famed Rolls-Royce collector, James 'Jimmy' Leake of Muskogee, Oklahoma by 1966. In his ownership it is featured in John Webb de Campi's definitive reference book, Rolls-Royce in America and it remained in that same stable by 1990 when offered at auction where it was purchased by Mr. Lee. It would later be joined by a Derby Speedster, effectively duplicating its purpose within the group, leading to the rationalized decision to offer the car for sale.

Today the car's older restoration shows some age but none too much to overshadow its exquisite form, which is the essence of the 'Roaring Twenties'. Its guise is a tasteful rich chestnut hue, with matched fenders coach-lined in cream and further accented externally by whitewall tires, an off-white top and covered trunk. These are contrasted by the simple chrome features of radiator, dual windshields and the aluminum trim swage molding. The interior is trimmed in deep burgundy hides.

With the depth of choice among the collection the Derby has seen only limited display in this three decades of custody, it provides its next keeper the opportunity to show a much-fabled model which will, as it did in its day, surely draw considerable interest.

RollsDerby.jpg

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Very nice automobile. It will be interesting to see what it hammers at.

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This was the coolest car at PB this weekend.  A completely original car owned by the guy that has more original cool cars than anyone else. 

IMG_5950.JPG

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The P1 has no hood vents like every other car in the world,  yet they manage to run cool when properly sorted.

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

That's a very pretty car!

 

Don't remind me.

 

The owner of the York is 6'2" and manages but it isn't easy.

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4 hours ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Interesting door profile.  Wondef how easy it is to get in and out of..

Very few 30's cars are easy to get in and out of, but I will tell you that my PI was pretty dreamy to drive (still having all its original seat/horse hair/cotton stuffing too - that probably helps matched to low mileage).   

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4 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

Very few 30's cars are easy to get in and out of, but I will tell you that my PI was pretty dreamy to drive (still having all its original seat/horse hair/cotton stuffing too - that probably helps matched to low mileage).   

 

Is the new owner enjoying the car?   This weekend Ed and I were using your car an example of a bargain for a GREAT prewar RR, that maybe sold cheap because of the color.

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The Brewster York,  Derby and Speedster tourer,  Newmarket,  plus the Newport and Riviera town cars are the crème de la crème of their Rolls-Royce designs.  

 

 

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The great thing about Pebble.......even after doing this for almost fifty years.........you still see very cool stuff that is new to you. Just when you think there are no more "great" cars to find, you get to see a few more. The original P1 town car was worth the price of the ticket........and we got to go over it in the parking lot. So it IS possible to see 90 percent of the cars on the field, up close in person, for no charge, IF you know how to work the venue. 

 

PS - AJ, it was my charming good looks and personality that jazzed up the above photo!

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Posted (edited)
On 8/20/2019 at 7:25 PM, alsancle said:

 

Is the new owner enjoying the car?   This weekend Ed and I were using your car an example of a bargain for a GREAT prewar RR, that maybe sold cheap because of the color.

New owner is half way across the globe, the car went overseas and doubt it will be seen again for years.   Yes, I took a hit on it for it being green (to be exact I think it was a 1971 Ford Truck color on it) matched to it being a mix of older restored and original, but equally it was incredibly correct car and had never seen a speck of weather or abuse  - that being said, I received more compliments on the car's color than all the compliments combined of every car I have ever owned (on every topic whether color or not), Macy's key buyer asked for a color chip and it became a "hot color" for spring women's clothes for a season, and the only people that criticized the color in person were dealers and they said it would be a hard sell because of its color (everyone else and we are talking 100's of people said it was stunning).  By the way, the fellow who chose the  color on the car (a relative) was a fine arts graduate from a rather prestigious school too. 

 

29572882_10156454165462189_2440925655986479070_n.jpg

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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On 8/20/2019 at 2:22 PM, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Interesting door profile.  Wondef how easy it is to get in and out of..

 

 

Steve.......it isn't easy. Top down is much better.

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5 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

New owner is half way across the globe, the car went overseas and doubt it will be seen again for years.   Yes, I took a hit on it for it being green (to be exact I think it was a 1971 Ford Truck color on it) matched to it being a mix of older restored and original, but equally it was incredibly correct car and had never seen a speck of weather or abuse  - that being said, I received more compliments on the car's color than all the compliments combined of every car I have ever owned (on every topic whether color or not), Macy's key buyer asked for a color chip and it became a "hot color" for spring women's clothes for a season, and the only people that criticized the color in person were dealers and they said it would be a hard sell because of its color (everyone else and we are talking 100's of people said it was stunning).  By the way, the fellow who chose the  color on the car (a relative) was a fine arts graduate from a rather prestigious school too. 

 

29572882_10156454165462189_2440925655986479070_n.jpg

 

No one ever accused us of having good taste. We were talking about green cars in general. He forgot to mention we both thought it was the best P1 Rolls to sell in a long time, and the price was very low when one considers the quality and body style. I would have liked to own the car, but I am contracting my collection........

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2 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

 By the way, the fellow who chose the  color on the car (a relative) was a fine arts graduate from a rather prestigious school too.

 

Color is obviously subjective and I'm not a big white wall fan,  so for me black walls might have helped.

 

Do you know what the original color of the car was?

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, alsancle said:

 

Color is obviously subjective and I'm not a big white wall fan,  so for me black walls might have helped.

 

Do you know what the original color of the car was?

When I first saw the RR it was as a kid - it was about 1972 or maybe 1973. My mom's cousin (my grandfather's sister's son), Max Hofferbert and his wife, Esther, owned the car.  They drove the car to either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It was entirely black at that time and had a red pinstripe (I assume it was original paint).  The wheels were either not from the car or were poorly stored - they were rusty with no paint visible (so no idea of the color).  The interior was original in frost white velvet mohair - it reeked of "old age."  They bought it at a surplus sale from the State of Kentucky - the governor's mansion had the car (it was a big thing to have a vintage RR for the Kentucky Derby and other horse function).  It had Dayton Thoroughbred double whitewalls on it at time that were also "old age" and lucky to have held air or really done anything. 

 

As a sidenote:  Max was probably a top 5 pinstriper on the globe.  

As an Additonal Sidenote:  I would like to find his 1927 Lancia Lambda Dual Cowl Touring 

 

Sidnote as to the RR :  The car was a November 1932 build - it was written up in I believe the NY Times as having had the owner spend 22K for it and also getting an 800K house for Thanksgiving.  The original owner was their steel supplier, Valeia Langeloth (now the Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation) - her first husband was a Nickle Engineer and had cornered  the market on nickle mines. It was close to the very last non-pieced together RR PI - they were more or less "out-of-business" when the car was built.  The body on the car would normally be found on a RR PII and is the second generation use of the Dover name.  What I really liked about the car was that it was very 1932 - a fabulous year for CCCA cars.  

 

Also, the car was also a handful, but mostly user error on my part - I loved its half turn quick steering, the clutch took some getting use to as it was either on or off with no in between (you pushed the pedal into a recess in the floor and when you foot was flat on the floor you were there,  it was a bear to shift until I got use to letting everything settle down after starting - you count to 25 to 30 (the starter drives through the transmission),  it turns out the car was one of a handful with a mechanical internal transmission brake - eliminated the need to double clutch (we were crunching it trying to double clutch, but once I was told to just put in the clutch, count to 10 and shift straight through it was like butter), the seats and seating position were fabulous all be it the mirrors aligned with nothing and you could not see a thing out of it, and it liked to run "Fast and Rich." 

 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Scan_Pic0003.thumb.jpg.11431eccddcab35b8fa8126e8bf6924a.jpg

This is the 1927 Lancia Lambda 7th series Dual Cowl - (it was originally painted white) that I mentioned - I went every weekend at least one day while it was being restored.  They had a fire under hood and when re-restored went on to win AACA Senior, though it had constant cosmetic problems thereafter (the RR PI wad two small spots where fire extinguisher chemical got on it via being its stable mate and I knew better than to even touch it) and it was never the same for them -  it was the first car in their collection to get sold.  

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)

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3 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

As an Additonal Sidenote:  I would like to find his 1927 Lancia Lambda Dual Cowl Touring

 

If it is still in the US it shouldn't be too hard, but if it went to Europe...

 

There was a later version of the same thing at Pebble this year.  Not sure I got a picture of it.

 

What is great about the Springfield built RR is there is so much history on all the cars.   Not the murky fog you see with many of the Classics.    All of the prewar cars require a lot of seat time to learn the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the particular model.   I've had one for 20 years and I feel like I just really learned how to drive it in the last 2.

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12 hours ago, alsancle said:

 

If it is still in the US it shouldn't be too hard, but if it went to Europe...

 

There was a later version of the same thing at Pebble this year.  Not sure I got a picture of it.

 

What is great about the Springfield built RR is there is so much history on all the cars.   Not the murky fog you see with many of the Classics.    All of the prewar cars require a lot of seat time to learn the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the particular model.   I've had one for 20 years and I feel like I just really learned how to drive it in the last 2.

I would like to find an original photo of the RR PI that I owned when it was new - while lucky to have been built, it equally must have been a "huge thing" for a distressed company.  

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