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Lot 426: Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom II Sedanca de Ville

Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams (19 June 2010)

Generally considered to be Rolls-Royce's pre-war masterpiece, the Phantom II followed a distinguished line of six-cylinder cars headed by the 40/50hp 'Silver Ghost' which had enjoyed a hugely successful 18 year production run prior to the introduction of the 'New Phantom' in 1925. The Phantom II, unveiled at the Olympia Motor Show in London in 1929, answered all the critics and was technically up to the minute in design while retaining all the standards of mechanical excellence shared by its predecessor. The new car featured unit construction of engine and gearbox, improved ride and handling characteristics and better braking. It was powered by a 7.7 litre, six cylinder, pushrod overhead valve engine which ran almost in silence and yet provided more than ample power to carry the most flamboyant of coachwork provided by the proliferation of bespoke coachbuilders in Great Britain, mainland Europe and of course also in America.

177XJ, a Derby-built Phantom II chassis, came off test on 17th February 1930. A short wheelbase chassis, it was destined for American socialite Emily Macy Brewster Frelinghuysen, wife of New Jersey Republican Senator, Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen. Emily Macy Brewster was from the Brewster coachbuilding family and it was that company who were commissioned to build the Sedanca de Ville coachwork on this car. Emily Brewster's new chassis was ordered from England as the new Phantom II chassis was not to be constructed at the Springfield Works until 1931. It would simply not do for the Frelinghuysens to be seen in an outdated model.

The chassis was duly delivered to New York on 8th March 1930 via Cunard and White Star Lines 'SS Albertic'. Naturally no expense was spared in the design and construction of the Sedanca de Ville coachwork for this family member and the finished product was similar in appearance to the Marlborough, St. Martin and Trouville Town cars from the Brewster Coachworks. For twenty or so years the car was owned by Mrs Brewster Frelinghuysen, during which time it was mainly chauffeur driven and it was shipped by rail each year from New York to Florida and back for the season. Following its original ownership the car spent much time in the warm climate of Southern California where it was maintained in good mechanical condition. The car came to the U.K. in 1988 and was acquired in the 1990s by the present owner, a time-served motor engineer, joining a small stable of select motor cars. He embarked upon a major body-off restoration, attending to all mechanical and coachwork matters as required in his own garage/workshops.

This most elegant Sedanca de Ville is strikingly liveried in duck egg blue over black and has been reupholstered with grey cloth to the rear and blue leather to the front, the upholstery complemented by dark blue leather-bound carpets. The rear compartment is generously furnished with two side-facing occasional seats, a Brewster travel clock, rug rail, rear seat with centre fold-down armrest and two interior courtesy lights. A glass sliding division would have ensured Emily Brewster's privacy from her trusted chauffeur. The car is equipped with twin-blade front and rear bumpers, wheel discs all round, fishtail exhaust, matching rear-view mirrors, twin side-mounted spare wheels, Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, CAV diver's helmet-style rear lamps, a red R-R script radiator badge and a useful luggage carrier and trunk. It comes also with a number of large tools. The owner's personal registration number is being retained and the new number will be advised at the time of sale.

177XJ is offered with distinguished Brewster provenance and comes with a copy of the Rolls-Royce Chassis Order Sheet, evidence of previous California ownership, a Swansea registration document, current road fund licence and MoT certificate.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
Lot Number426
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£69000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£77400
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number177XJ
Engine numberBG95
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors