1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom,
Lot 637
1927 Rolls-Royce Springfield New Phantom Piccadilly Roadster S459FL
Sold for £106,000 (US$ 134,779) inc. premium

Lot Details
1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom, 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom, 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom,
1927 Rolls-Royce Springfield New Phantom Piccadilly Roadster
Coachwork by Rolls-Royce Custom Coachworks

Registration no. SV 8031
Chassis no. S459FL
Engine no. 20569
Body no. M1333


  • 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 - signalling the beginning of its decline. 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. The Phantom I was in production for only five years and the Derby-built models ran parallel with the Springfield cars but ended in 1929, whereas the Americans continued until 1931.
    This car is a superb example of the left-hand drive American-built Rolls-Royce Phantom I fitted with the most desirable and handsome Piccadilly open roadster coachwork with rumble seat. According to John W de Campi’s definitive work, Rolls-Royce in America, chassis number ‘S459FL’ was delivered new on 27th April 1927 to first owner Florence Gallup, of Boston, Massachusetts. Built by Merrimac for Rolls-Royce Custom Coachworks, the currently fitted body, number ‘M1333’, is from Silver Ghost ‘S269PK’ and replaced the original Canterbury closed limousine body (‘WC1592’) probably in the late 1930s. ‘S269PK’ was delivered in 1927 also, and de Campi’s book confirms that it was originally supplied with Piccadilly body ‘M1333’.
    The car was acquired by the vendors in July 1995 when they were living in the USA, having been in the immediately preceding private ownership of Dr Garry Gaffner, of Seattle, a collector with many Rolls-Royces from all periods, who had owned it for several years. Indeed, this car has always appealed to the knowledgeable, serious collector of Rolls-Royces as records indicate that in 1981 it was in the hands of Fred Brown, of Portsmouth, Ohio, who had 20 Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars in his possession at that time, and subsequently was with many-time Springfield Phantom owner Jack Goffette, of Edmonds, Washington up to approximately 1986.
    While in the vendors’ possession the car has been used extensively at regional meets and on regional tours in the Mid-West, as well as at R-ROC national meets in 1996 at French Lick, Indiana and 1997 at Hot Springs, Virginia. In 1996 and 1997 it secured regional Concours awards and 1st in touring class awards at the National meets. The car was imported into the UK late in 1997, since when it has been used mostly for regional and local events and tours. Forming part of a private museum collection of other early and classic Rolls-Royce cars and British motorcycles ever since, it has been maintained by its enthusiast owner and driven regularly on a private estate.
    Work completed while in the current ownership has included overhauling the carburettor and ignition system; rebuilding the wheels with new spokes and one new rim; overhauling the central lubrication system; and restoring the speedometer, fuel gauge and Autovac. The switch box, instrument bezels and steering column centre control hub were stripped, re-engraved where needed and re-enamelled, while parts replaced include the rear exhaust manifold; spring and steering gaiters; brake linings and tyres. Most of the brightwork had been inappropriately chromium plated, all of which was stripped and refinished in the correct nickel plate. The hub nuts were badly rounded and these were reworked at great expense to the crisp ‘as new’ condition now showing. Flashing indicators have been installed for convenience and safety, and a new battery fitted recently.
    Finished in black with red leather upholstery, including the rumble seat, the car features imposing dual side-mount spare wheels, mahogany running boards, and correct drum headlamps, tubular bumpers, period trunk and triple lamp rear light. Paintwork, interior and the cloth-covered top bows are in excellent order, while all instruments are correct and working. The chassis is in excellent condition and the general cosmetics likewise. The vendor advises us that the car is a strong runner and has proved very reliable for long distance driving. It has that delightful patina associated with older restorations and a striking, Gatsbyesque aura that always draws plentiful attention and admiration.
    Included with the car is a comprehensive history file dating from 1995 onwards containing sundry invoices, details of work carried out and records of usage. The vehicle also comes with a reproduction handbook and parts list; R-ROC service sheets; a copy of A W Soutter’s rare and sought-after book The American Rolls-Royce; assorted photographs; partial tool kit; tailored dust cover; awards received; publications in which it has featured; expired MoT certificates and old tax discs. It is offered with current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5 registration document.
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