1932 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Phantom II Sport SedanSOLD

RM Vintage Motorcars in Arizona - Biltmore Resort & Spa, Friday January 19, 2007

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$550,000 Sold

The Brewster Phantoms

The history of Rolls-Royce in America is inextricably intertwined with that of the Brewster & Co. coachworks, which over the years of Rolls-Royce production and assembly in Springfield, Massachusetts, contributed to some of the most elegant, sporting and attractively proportioned bodies fitted to any Rolls-Royce.

Starting in New Haven, Connecticut in 1810, three generations of Brewsters created a succession of memorable designs. The firm was, at the turn of the 20th century, the pre-eminent American coachbuilder, renowned not only for its designs, but also for its construction. Willie Brewster began building automobile bodies in 1905 in New York City, and eventually expanded to a larger facility in Long Island City, New York in 1911. By 1914, he became a Rolls-Royce sales agent, importing chassis from England and building bodies for Brewster ’ s established clientele. Some 46 Brewster-bodied Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts were built before Brewster ’ s agency was interrupted by World War I.

Brewster continued to create coachwork for Springfield Rolls-Royce after WWI and in 1925 Rolls-Royce bought the company, making Brewster the primary source for the marque ’ s coachwork. Eventually, well over 400 Springfield-built Rolls-Royces were Brewster bodied, an elaborate and highly customized process that encouraged clients to visit the facility and oversee the progress of their orders, suggest individual features, and approve colors and materials. Even for cataloged bodies, the process of acquiring a Brewster-bodied Rolls-Royce was an elaborate ritual that set a standard of customer service that today is found only in the finest restoration shops.

Production of the Phantom I continued in Springfield after the Phantom II was introduced in England in 1929, but was eventually phased out in 1931 in favor of Derby-built left-hand drive Phantom IIs. Following Sir Henry Royce ’ s staunch belief in evolution rather than revolution, the new Phantom II offered a more refined, updated chassis and an improved engine with a cross-flow cylinder head for better breathing, and now mounted in unit with the transmission. Chassis improvements included hydraulic shocks and the use of semi-elliptic springs for both front and rear axles, which were underslung. With the new lower frame, a considerable reduction in ride height was the result – something on the order of nine inches, lending itself to more modern and sleek body designs. Of the many bodies cataloged by Rolls-Royce in America, none were more attractive and sporting than the exceptional designs penned by Brewster.

In 1930, the Rolls-Royce of America operation in Springfield knew it was in trouble. Sales of the Phantom I were shrinking and the Phantom II had been introduced in Britain. However, the magnitude of the depression was not obvious and Rolls-Royce was looking for a way through what was perceived as a recession that might last a year or two. They saw the solution in closing their manufacturing operation and becoming an importer-distributor for Rolls-Royce in the USA. After all, they owned Brewster, one of the finest coachbuilders in America, and a dealer network was in place.

The problem was that the Phantom II as introduced in Britain was not suitable for the US market because it did not have many of the advanced features of the last of the Springfield Phantom Is. For example, the Springfield Phantom I was left drive, had thermostatic shutters (vs. manual), a complete “ one-shot ” chassis lube system (vs. a partial system on the PII), chrome plating (vs. nickel that required frequent polishing), and smaller and more stylish 20 inch wheels (vs. 21 inch on the PII) and the PII lacked a carburetor air cleaner and silencer.

Springfield agreed to buy 200 left-drive Phantom IIs if the British factory would make all the improvements necessary for the US market. Derby agreed and went through a full experimental program to develop the improved Phantom II for the American market. The experimental department at Derby built two experimental cars - 24EX and 25EX - to develop the improved cars. Both were tested in France and then Ernest Hives, head of the Experimental Department (and later Managing Director of Rolls-Royce), took 25EX to the USA for evaluation there, arriving in October of 1930. The springing proved unsuitable for US roads and was later improved, and the 19-inch wheels Springfield wanted didn ’ t prove satisfactory, so 20-inch wheels were chosen.

The final result was a delightful car with an improved top speed, lower chassis and quieter operation than the Springfield Phantom I. In fact, the improvements inspired Derby to incorporate all of them (except the left-drive) into all the Phantom IIs starting with chassis JS1 onwards. The first deliveries of the left-drive Phantom II chassis began in the spring of 1931.

The Brewster coachworks at the Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City was ready with designs for the new Phantom II chassis when it arrived. Some of the designs were warmed-over Phantom I styles and some were fresh and delightful designs. The first of the new designs was the Newport town car (for traditional chauffeur driven use) and the Henley Roadster (for the owner-driver).

The Henley used a clever styling trick of the double belt-line to make the side of the car appear lower. Later that same double belt-line was used on two other body styles, namely the styles offered here - and only the styles offered here.

It is interesting to note, however, that the hood line evolved over these three styles. The Henley shows the classic square hood line. The Newmarket Permanent sedan shows the extended top line where the top of the hood flows all the way to the windshield and the ventilator opens through the hood. Finally, the Henley Coupe hood extends back along the sides of the hood as well. Brewster styling was always improving and evolving.

The cars were mechanically and aesthetically successful even though the depression limited the market. The contract for 200 left-drive cars was never fulfilled, but 116 were sold in North America and 6 in Europe. While sales were limited, these cars are recognized as among the most desirable of all the classic era Rolls-Royces. One of Three Examples Built

120bhp 7,668cc. In-line six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with leaf spring suspension, live rear axle with longitudinal leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 150"

The unusual name of this body style, the “ Newmarket Permanent ” derives from a Phantom I convertible sedan body style called the Newmarket. The true convertible sedan was not popular on the Phantom II but the Newmarket Permanent was certainly an aesthetic success.

There are three of this Newmarket Permanent body style known to have been built and all three are believed to still exist. At least two other slightly different bodies were called Newmarket Permanents but both are believed to have been destroyed. At least one of these two is thought to be a similar, and somewhat less attractive body, as shown in the accompanying photo.

Gladys Letts Janss was a charming young lady who had recently married Harold Janss. Gladys ’ father was Arthur Letts, a wealthy retailer. In 1919, Arthur had been farsighted enough to buy the 3000 acre Wolfskill Farm. That farm covered the area that is now known as Westwood, one of the nicest residential areas in west L.A. Arthur recognized a talent in Harold and set him up in business as the Janss Development Co. In 1922, the comany started selling homes and lots on the Farm. The business was a huge success and both Letts and Janss prospered.

In the early 1930s, when the depression was hurting many comfortable families, the Janss family was enjoying considerable wealth. Their Beverly Hills home at 602 North Foothill Drive was famous for its parties.

In 1933, Gladys wanted a new car and the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Permanent Newmarket sedan caught her eye. She could be driven in it or, when she wished, take the wheel herself. It was ever so stylish – the perfect motorcar. There wasn ’ t much that Gladys wanted that she didn ’ t get, and the car was no exception. It was delivered to her Beverly Hills home on November 3, 1933.

She may have kept the car for quite a long time, as the next reported owner was Naval Lieutenant Vasmer L. Flint of San Diego who, in 1946 wrote a letter to J. S. Inskip in New York asking for an instruction book. George Steinmeyer, the parts manager, responded by offering the desired handbook.

Lt. Flint is not heard from again but he probably mustered out of the service and drove the Phantom II back to New England to pursue his civilian career. The car next appears in the hands of Theodore Kain of Waltham, Massachusetts early in 1952. Intervening owners, if any, are unknown, but in March of 1986, the car appears back in California in the hands of Robert F. Goodwin of Hayward. The vendor acquired the car about five years ago from a private collector in California.

Today, 301AJS has benefited from a comprehensive professional restoration. Although the exact age of the work is unknown, the car remains in high point condition, showing only minor evidence of aging, primarily in the form of minor paint defects. The interior is strikingly finished in a rich red leather, and the woodwork glows under nearly flawless lacquer. The car has been regularly maintained, and the vendor reports that it is in excellent running condition.

Considered by many to be the ultimate closed car on any prewar Rolls-Royce chassis, these Sports Sedans are also among the rarest, with just three examples known. Cars of this caliber transcend the normal considerations of body style, chassis and condition, becoming works of art appreciated for their beauty and rarity.

Reference Number 5764

as of 1/9/2007

Overview
Car 1932 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Phantom II Sport Sedan
VIN 301AJS 
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