1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom IPlayboy Roadster
Year of manufacture1927
- One of 13 Playboy roadsters built on Phantom I chassis
- Extensive Hollywood history; featured alongside James Dean in the 1955 film Giant
- Formerly owned by Sonya Levien Hovey, Warner Brothers Studios, and Hal Blaine
- Restored by renowned Rolls-Royce specialist Steve Litton in 2014
Chassis number S162PM is one of thirteen Springfield-built Phantom I Rolls-Royces to carry the Playboy roadster body, in this case installed in 1933 for the car’s second owner, Sonya Levien Hovey. Mrs. Hovey was a prominent Hollywood screenwriter from the 1920s through to the 1950s, receiving an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1955. The ownership cards for this car, held by the Rolls-Royce Foundation and copies of which are on file, record Mrs. Hovey’s home as 1001 N. Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills and her business address as Fox Studio.
The Playboy was acquired from Mrs. Hovey by Warner Brothers Studios and had its bodywork restyled with more modern skirted fenders and lowered headlights. In this form, it would appear over the passing years in several films, most prominently the classic 1955 motion picture Giant alongside legendary actor James Dean, and the 1965 film Inside Daisy Clover, in which it was driven by Robert Redford.
When Warner Brothers dispersed most of their fleet of prop vehicles in 1970, the Phantom I was sold to Hal Blaine, himself a renowned drummer and session musician who has played drums on more top-selling records than anyone in the rock-and-roll era (including over 40 number one hits). Mr. Blaine had the car restored and, over the years, displayed in various Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club events in Southern California. It was also driven in several Santa Claus Lane parades in Hollywood, carrying such luminaries as Glen Campbell and the cast of The Partridge Family. The car was featured on the cover of Al Wilson’s hit album Show and Tell and on the cover of the book Cars: The Old Classics by Andrew Whyte, copies of which both accompany the car.
The Rolls-Royce was regularly toured by its next owner, William McClenahan, and later spent many years on display in Art Astor’s famous collection in Anaheim, California. Following its sale from the Astor Collection, it was restored to its authentic 1933 appearance by renowned specialist Steve Litton, including copies of original, correct Brewster fenders and a concours-quality, bare-metal repaint in black cellulose. The paintwork contrasts beautifully with the buttoned maroon upholstery, which is similarly in lightly worn but comfortable condition, and with the dark maroon wire wheels shod in wide whitewall tires for the right burst of light color. The Phantom I was subsequently acquired by the current owner in 2015.
As pre-war Rolls-Royce cars go, this is certainly one of the most exciting of its era and boasts a rich California provenance, including some of the great names in Hollywood. Much like its past owners, this example remains an absolute star!To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo19.