1927 ROLLS-ROYCE SPRINGFIELD PHANTOM I
COACHWORK BY BREWSTER
Chassis No. S67PM
Engine No. 20676
Beige over tan with tobacco leather interior and beige canvas top
Engine: six cylinder, in-line, overhead valves, 7,668cc; Gearbox: three speed manual, center gear change, rear wheel drive; Suspension: front, semi-elliptic springs, rear, cantilever springs; Brakes: four wheel drum, servo-assisted. Left hand drive.
The reputation of Rolls-Royce had been established by the Silver Ghost; replacing it would be a daunting task. That substitute was the Phantom introduced in 1925. Built as a refinement of the earlier car, they in fact shared the same chassis. To further refine the driving experience, a new state-of-the-art OHV straight 6 engine was developed, along with a revised steering column mounting to reduce road shocks through the steering wheel. The new model continued to be built in both the UK and the US (as the Ghost had been) with manufacture in Derby and Springfield, Massachusetts. American production began in 1926 and continued two years after the model was replaced with the Phantom II in the UK in 1929.
There were a few differences in the cars built in the US, to better suit the American market. They included a shorter 'long wheelbase' model and a three speed rather than four speed transmission. The cars built in Massachusetts boasted the same level of impeccable workmanship, quality of materials and integrity of design and engineering that had established Rolls-Royce from the beginning. To further address American driving conditions, the Springfield cars featured a one-shot lubrication system, disposable oil filter, carburetor air cleaner and thermostatic radiator shutters. The Springfield Phantom enjoyed good sales during the last years of the Roaring Twenties, with about 300 cars delivered in the US in both 1927 and 1928.
Brewster & Co., founded in New Haven, Connecticut and later based in New York, had its roots in the horse-drawn era. The company was internationally noted by the time they bodied their first Rolls-Royce chassis in 1908. They enhanced their relationship with the marque in 1914 when they became sales agents for Rolls-Royce in New York City. They quickly became the leading supplier of bodywork for Rolls-Royce in the United States and in 1926 the car makers took a controlling interest in the company to assure a steady supply of top quality coachwork. The important experience Brewster had in building lightweight bodies also made their cars not only some of the most attractive examples fitted to Rolls-Royce chassis, but also some of the best performing as well.
This handsome and sporty Phantom was the first classic car Sergio Franchi ever restored, in the late 1960s. It's easy to see what attracted him to the car, with its sporty lines and simple, elegant detailing. The subtle color scheme suits the car well and it remains in very presentable condition with lustrous paint and chrome. The interior shows very well, with virtually unmarked seats and lustrous wood dashboard. It always attracted attention wherever it was driven, and on the occasions it was shown almost always captured the 'People's Choice' award.
As a singer, it's certain that Franchi was familiar with the line in the Cole Porter song 'You're the Top', which goes 'You're the top; You're a Brewster body' This fine example of an American Rolls-Royce certainly fits the lyric. Eva Franchi expressed it simply, 'Sergio thought that this car stands like a Queen or a bride on her wedding day.'