FORMERLY THE PROPERTY OF NELSON A. ROCKEFELLER
1926 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM I CABRIOLET DE VILLE
COACHWORK BY BARKER
Chassis No. 27 TC
Engine No. ID15
Maroon with cream leather upholstery.
Engine: six cylinder, overhead valve, 7,688cc; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: front, semi-elliptic leaf springs, rear, cantilever leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
The New Phantom, as the Phantom I was called, constituted only the third new car that Rolls-Royce had designed and was the direct replacement for the Silver Ghost. It retained the Ghost chassis and Edwardian suspension but had a much modified engine and new plate type clutch. The bore was slightly smaller and the stroke longer to provide an increase in capacity to 7,688cc. The brakes were substantially improved by fitting a mechanical servo assistance motor, driven off the gearbox. This design was acquired from Hispano-Suiza and was to be used for a generation, before trusting the now normal vacuum type servo assistance.
The Phantom I was in production for only five years, and has been rather unfairly described as a transitional car, and yet when it was launched it was enthusiastically received and provided a spirited performance with exceptional brakes and road manners. The Derby production models ran parallel with the American Springfield cars but ended in 1929, whereas the Americans continued until 1931. Total production was 3,453 cars of which 1,241 were built in America, providing a major sales success and furthering the world reputation of Rolls-Royce. As with all of these cars the reputable coachbuilders of the day offered a variety of body styles and this particular car was supplied new with this Cabriolet de Ville coachwork by one of the finest coachbuilders of the period, Barker.
According to the Rolls-Royce chassis card this car was sold new to Rhinelander Stewart Esq whose address is recorded as 115 Broadway, New York, USA. The chassis was delivered from the Rolls-Royce factory to Barkers, London in early June 1926 and it would appear the finished car was tested at Barkers one month later. The car was not immediately shipped to the USA as the build sheets indicate that the car was serviced in Paris in late October 1927. Further entries indicate that the car was serviced in the UK until 1930. We have been told that the first owner of this car was in fact J.P.Morgan, Jr., the famed New York financier, however we have no evidence at present to confirm this theory, but it may have been that Mr. Stewart worked for Morgan. The next recorded owner was a Mr. Feind from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June 1946 and by 1948 a Mr. Strong from Atwater, Minnesota. Nothing further is known of the car until it passed into the hands of the former Vice President, Nelson A. Rockefeller in the early 1970s. The current owners purchased the car from his estate in 1979.
During a recent inspection, this elegant car was not running following a short period of storage. However, by the time of the auction it is hoped that the engine will be in running condition. It still retains its original engine and we noted that a power steering system has been fitted for ease of driving. The original fuel syestem has been uprated with a modern fuel pump. The paintwork is now quite tired and it appears that the cream upholstery was probably fitted in the 1970s, the convertible top has been fitted more recently. The car retains its original Barker Dipping light system and is fitted with Lucas King of the Road headlamps. There is a winding divsion in the rear.
Rolls-Royce is always a respected marque and this example is particularly desirable retaining its original and rare all weather Barker coachwork in addition to its interesting provenance.