Gooding & Company is having their first sale of the New Year in Scottsdale, AZ., on Jan. 18 & 19, 2013. We have picked out several pre and post war automobiles from the catalog to share with you. As always the offerings are always carefully selected and represent the best the market has to offer. For one the first cars we have picked out this attractive 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Ascot Tourer. I was thrilled to have a ride in this splendid tourer on a VMCCA tour in the early 1960s, being about seven or eight years old at the time. Enjoy the fine photography and one of the most attractive “Classic Era” Rolls-Royces ever.
September 1926 saw the Springfield works change over from Silver Ghost to New Phantom production after 1,700 Ghosts had left the factory. The New Phantom, around 1,200 of which would eventually leave Springfield, was another step forward in quality and performance for Rolls-Royce in America. Along with the new model came a string of fashionable, new designs from coach builder Brewster. These, included some of the most sought-after body styles ever to grace Rolls-Royce chassis on either side of the Atlantic: the Henley Roadster, the Derby Speedster, and, as presented here, the Ascot Phaeton.
In the late 1920s, before the Great Depression, Rolls-Royce were the height of fashion for the social elite, with an enviable reputation for quality, per-formance, and luxury. Advertising in publications such as Vogue November 1929 captured the Rolls-Royce cache: “Somewhere between you and the graceful little figure-head that rides that radiator, you know a powerful motor is purring. You know it by the ease with which you glide up hills and by the swallow-flight of the scenery.”
The sporty, open-bodied Ascot combined the highest levels of comfort and reliability, so owners could concentrate on enjoying the trappings of the lifestyle that went hand-in-hand with Rolls-Royce ownership.
The Ascot presented here, one of only approximately 28 built, was delivered new in August 1929, through J.S. Inskip to Robert Griffin of New Jersey. Chassis cards on file from the RROC note that Mr. Griffin later traded the Ascot for another stylish and desirable Phantom, a Henley Roadster. The Ascot then passed to Mr. Bernard Heaton of Boston who kept the Rolls-Royce until October 1946. At that time, records note that the Ascot was taken on consignment by Elliot G. Hawley and sold the following February to Peter Franz, both of New York.
In January 1953, pioneering car collector Henry C. Wing notified the RROC of his ownership of S178FR and while under his care the Ascot was restored before being sold in 1956 to prominent Veteran Car Club of America member William O’Connor of Norfolk Connecticut. O’Connor toured enthusiastically with the Rolls-Royce, and one such trip to Florida was extensively featured in a RROC magazine article, a copy of which is included in the sale. In 1969, Mr. O’Connor sold the Ascot to another well-known collector, Paul Stern of Manheim, Pennsylvania. Under Mr. Stern’s ownership, the car was photographed and featured in the book Rolls-Royce in America by John Webb de Campi. Subsequently, the phaeton was sold in 1973 to another well-known collector, Wallace Rank of Wisconsin, who kept it for approximately 12 years before selling it to Mark Smith in the mid-1980s.
S178FR was more recently sold to its current owner, who then undertook a comprehensive restoration. The engine work was carried out by marque specialist A.J. Glew of the UK and is detailed in invoices. These receipts along with a file of documentation and magazine articles accompany the sale. In addition to re-chroming all brightwork and re-trimming the interior and hood, a complete bare metal repaint was undertaken. Its current livery of “Rouge Carmine” over “Amaranto” with beige leather trim beautifully complements its dramatic lines. Attractive details to note are the “Auster” screen for the rear compartment, rear arm rests, and twin Stephen Grebel spotlights, all of which are likely period-correct options.
All photos courtesy of Gooding & Company and you can see the other 150+ lots in the Scottsdale auction presented on their website.