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The Amelia Island Auction / 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Avon Touring SedanCoachwork by Brewster & Co.Chassis no. S320LREngine no. 21209

Lot 278
From the 1978 motion picture The Betsy
1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Avon Touring Sedan
Coachwork by Brewster & Co.
3 March 2022, 13:00 EST
Fernandina Beach Golf Club

Sold for US$26,880 inc. premium

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1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Avon Touring Sedan
Coachwork by Brewster & Co.

Chassis no. S320LR
Engine no. 21209

7,672cc OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Dual-Throat Carburetor
108bhp at 2,300 rpm
3-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*Featured in the 1978 motion picture The Betsy
*Rarely seen Avon with division
*Well known history
*Accompanied by Rolls-Royce Foundation documentation


Among many other changes as Rolls-Royce replaced the Silver Ghost with the Phantom in the United States was a pronounced shift in the favored coachwork of Rolls-Royce's clients.

The Phantom itself had been developed in response to the luxury market's desire for larger, heavier, more lavishly equipped closed coachwork. One measure of the popularity of these styles – and the new Avon sedan which was introduced by Brewster in 1929 – is that it was Avon sedan coachwork which graced many, if not all, of Rolls-Royce's 1929-1930 trials cars and even the Works Experimental chassis 5MX. Clearly, this was what Rolls-Royce's clients wanted as 1929 turned to 1930.

It is easy to see the Avon sedan's attraction. Its low roofline and slightly raked windshield with body-colored frame blended attractively with the longer Phantom hood and looked particularly good with a padded roof. The wide center posts gave the visual effect of a convertible sedan, but with the snug, secure, protected passenger compartment of a full sedan. It was the height of luxury and comfort without being unduly ostentatious, a combination that was in very desirable as the Great Depression deepened.

Most Phantom I Avon sedans were built for owner-operation but this example is one of few constructed as a Touring Sedan with a rollup division window. In addition it is outfitted with a luggage trunk and dual sidemounted spares with mirrors.

Even better, this Phantom I Avon has movie history. In its case it was in the 1978 film version of Harold Robbins' novel "The Betsy" the story of an ill-fated automobile entrepreneur and his family. Dressed up for the film in peach paint with cream fenders and body beltline accent, its roof is padded in cream leatherette. The interior is beige leather. The six wire wheels are painted in body color and all carry wide whitewall tires.

Rolls-Royce records reveal that it was sold new to Parker Corning of Kenwood, New York (between Syracuse and Utica) on November 14, 1930. It remained with him until August 1946 when it was sold to pioneer collector and historian Keith Marvin of New Canaan, Connecticut. Marvin sold it on New Year's Eve 1950 to Albert O. White of Schenectady, New York. It was later acquired by Ted Leonard. Following Mr. Leonard's passing the car was sold by Bonhams in June of 2009 and later acquired by the current owner.

It appears to have been sympathetically preserved by a succession of owners with the chassis and engine compartment particularly impressive and highly original. The repaint is to movie standards (good enough for the camera) but the car is sound and well preserved. On static display for the past decade, the overall appearance and presentation encourage confidence in its preservation and condition which makes it an excellent candidate for driving, following some degree of mechanical recommissioning, largely as it is and subsequent restoration with, perhaps, a less flamboyant color palette. As one of the few touring sedan with division window versions of the popular Brewster Avon coachwork it will be a valued participant at concours and Rolls-Royce events.

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