1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. S182PM

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Lot 542
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé
Chassis no. S182PM

Sold for US$ 238,000 inc. premium
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé
Chassis no. S182PM
Body no. B6004

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.

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.

Right-hand drive chassis number ‘S182PM’ is a Springfield Phantom I built in December 1926/January 1927 and originally fitted with a Brewster Chatsworth town car body. No record of its sale with the Chatsworth body can be found, but the car was almost certainly displayed for a year or so in one or more Rolls-Royce showrooms with that body. ‘S182PM’ was later fitted with this Brewster Henley body carrying Brewster number ‘B6004’. John W de Campi, author of Rolls-Royce in America, believes that this may be one of two prototype Henleys - the very first ones built. The other prototype carries body ‘B6003’ that eventually (circa 1940) ended up on chassis ‘S303LR’, moved there from chassis ‘S140FR’. The Henleys on the Phantom II chassis have much higher numbers, typically between ‘B7300’ and ‘B7600’. There were two Henleys on the PI chassis and nine on the PII chassis.

‘S182PM’ appears to have been sold in 1929 to the first purchaser whose name is not recorded in the surviving Springfield records. It is also not known whether it was sold to the first purchaser with the Chatsworth body or with the Henley body. Springfield changed bodies on cars with frequency; indeed, a complete body swap could be completed within one working day. In those days, whether a body was original or not was unimportant; what was important was whether the body was attractive and saleable.

The Henley is commonly referred to as the Henley roadster but, since it has roll-up windows, it is really a convertible coupé. Built by Brewster at its Queensboro Plaza works in Long Island City, the Henley is considered one of the most desirable body styles ever placed on the Rolls-Royce chassis. Very few classic body styles match the near perfect balance of line and mass that the Henley achieves. The Springfield Phantom I, carrying a light body (like the Henley), is a very satisfying car to drive. They are fast, stop well and ride smoothly. The Henley body offers the joys of open motoring or the comfort of closed accommodation at the whim of the owner. Many classics are not suited to touring, but this car would be ideal for either touring or concours. While missing a few minor parts and needing to go back onto the original 21” rims, this car is largely original so any future restorer does not need to correct the faults that are often found in older restorations undertaken by those with inadequate knowledge of the marque.
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. S182PM
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. S182PM
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. S182PM
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. S182PM
1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Henley Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. S182PM
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