22nd Jun, 2022 13:00

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Lot 103

1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Lonsdale Limousine

Sold for £55,125

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: BF 5185
Chassis No: S270FP
MOT: Exempt

  • Coachwork by Brewster & Co.
  • Delivered new to H. Goldman of Goldman Sachs Trading Corp.
  • Subject to recent mechanical fettling by a marque specialist
  • Offered with photographic record of the restoration

Just over 100 years ago, on January 17, 1921, a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost rolled off an assembly line, but it wasn’t in Derby, England, instead, that car and 2,945 that followed were assembled in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. After World War I, Charles Stewart Rolls’ partner Charles Johnson (Henry Royce lived until 1933, but was in ill-health after 1912), saw that the US market was in better condition than the British economy and saw assembly in the US to avoid duties that made the cars even more expensive for American customers. So, in 1919, Rolls-Royce purchased the American Wire Wheel Co. factory building in Springfield, Massachusetts to build cars in America, making the Springfield cars the most expensive of American-made vehicles.

The first 25 cars were produced entirely from imported parts, but afterward, the coachwork for the Springfield-built cars was produced in the US. Rolls opened its own body-building workshop in 1923. By 1925 Rolls- Royce America Inc. was expanding and gaining bargaining power against Brewster. Executives from Rolls-Royce of America and Brewster met and decided on the purchase of Brewster & Co. and their debt. Brewster & Co. (Coachbuilders since 1810) became part of Rolls Royce Motors (USA) in 1926. Their work as a coachbuilder was also popular with Rolls’ customers. From that start in 1921, and until the Springfield workshop closed in 1931 because of the Depression, 2,946 Rolls-Royce vehicles were assembled in New England. Among them were 1,703 Silver Ghosts, which joined the ‘Springfield Phantom’ in 1925.

Now wearing the UK registration number 'BF 5185', this Brewster Formal Lonsdale Limousine was delivered new to H. Goldman in New York City on the 5th of December 1928, the day after the launch of the Goldman Sachs Trading Corp. As a result of the stock market crash in 1929, the fund failed, hurting the firm's reputation for several years afterward. H. Goldman's private address was 998 Fifth Avenue, New York - typical tenants of this apartment building included the Guggenheims and Levi Morton (Vice President of the USA) just to name a couple.

'BF 5185' is a good example of a Springfield-built Phantom I. It has resided in the UK since its import into the UK from the USA in 1990. The dramatically styled Stateside limousine saw little to no use before but 2009. From the 1960s (in the USA) into the 1990s, various amounts of restoration work had been carried out, including, in the early 1990s (a couple of years after import into the UK), a full re-paint and interior re-trim, done to a good standard, and the chassis and underside cleaned and painted. The New England-built Rolls Royce is offered with a presentation photograph album of the restoration thought to have been carried out in the early 1990s. Documents from The Real Car Company Limited in 2009 suggest they carried out mechanical recommissioning in 2009 and the Phantom was also subject to new tyres in 2009 and re-chroming in 2011.

In current ownership, it has been looked after and repaired by Ben Smith Engineering Services. From the history file, it appears that the 'one shot' chassis/suspension lubrication system has been set up and a full service has been carried out in the vendor's ownership. The limousine carries the following numbers: Rolls Royce Works No: 2270; Chassis No: S270FP; Engine No: 22707, Brewster & Co. Body No: B5382. American documents are present as part of the history file. There is a collection of old MOTs and invoices. Up close, this Rolls is impressive, the doors are substantial, close with a lovely 'thunk', and the whole car feels and presents as a solid and correct example of a Rolls-Royce rare to these shores.

For more information, please contact:
James McWilliam
07943 584760


All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


Auction: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 22nd Jun, 2022


Tuesday 21st June 2022 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 22nd June 2022 from 9am

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