1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I
Year of manufacture1929
R.E. Field, Milford, Ohio (acquired new in 1929)
T.A. Norton, New York City, New York (acquired from the above in 1947)
Stephen E. Ryan Jr., Forest Hills Gardens, New York (acquired from the above in 1949)
James H. Fowler, Fremont, Nebraska (acquired from the above in 1952)
James R. Matthews, Newark, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 1956)
John C. Coval, Wyckoff, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 1970)
Hans Lüscher, Switzerland (acquired from the above circa 1990)
Private Collection, Greece (acquired from the above in 2002)
Current Owner (acquired in 2013)
Rolls-Royce Owners Club Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1974 (First in Class)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1980
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2017
(Lucius Beebe Trophy, Second in Class)
John Webb de Campi, Rolls-Royce in America, pictured on p. 79, chassis no. listed on p. 240
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®: 1950–2010, A Sixty Year Chronicle of
Automotive Excellence, listed on p. 176
The Flying Lady, 1974–5, first place win listed on p. 1697
Rolls-Royce produced 1,241 examples of the Phantom I at its Springfield, Massachusetts, works. Many of these were bodied by master coachbuilder Brewster, which Rolls-Royce acquired in October 1925. These attractive body designs carried distinct names; the Ascot was described as “an airy 4-passenger sport phaeton, with coachwork by Brewster” in a November 1929 Vogue magazine advertisement. The car offered here is one of 28 Brewster Ascots produced and still carries its original open coachwork, as well as its engine.
A bare Phantom chassis produced in Springfield was priced at $13,355, and by the time coachwork was applied, an owner typically would part with upward of $18,000 for this most luxurious means of transport. Chassis S203KR with Brewster body no. 7166 shows a delivery date of December 26, 1929, to its first owner, R.E. Field of Milford, Ohio. The KR series was the fourth-from-the-last Phantom I series and incorporated significant mechanical changes, including 20" wheels, an aluminum cylinder head, and thermostatically controlled grille shutters. Cosmetically, these cars were distinguished from earlier examples by subtle detail changes such as conical headlamps with matching side lamps mounted on the front fenders, and twin flat bumper bars, rather than the dated tubular bumper. The result was a more modern-looking conveyance without alteration to the perfectly proportioned Brewster design.
This Rolls-Royce’s next two owners, T.A. Norton and Stephen E. Ryan Jr., were both in New York. James H. Fowler of Fremont, Nebraska, acquired the Ascot Tourer in 1952, and it returned to the East Coast when acquired in 1956 by James R. Matthews of Newark, New Jersey. In 1970, John C. Coval of Wyckoff, New Jersey, acquired the car and initiated its first restoration. Mr. Coval’s efforts were recognized at the 1974 Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club annual meeting in Indianapolis, where it received First Place in the Phantom I class. By 1980, Mr. Coval had relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, and in August of that year, he entered it at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. After 20 years of ownership, it then became part of the Hans Lüscher Collection in Switzerland.
The current owner acquired the car in 2013 and immediately commissioned Jeff McDonald of McDonald Vintage Restoration in Canby, Oregon, to perform a thorough restoration. Extensive research revealed the car’s original paint color, and, striving for authenticity, McDonald’s team returned the Ascot Tourer to a subtle green gray tone known as Submarine Gray. Likewise, the leather upholstery was finished in a matching tone, also as originally configured. A tan canvas top and blackwall tires complete the presentation of understated elegance. The stainless-steel wire wheels – a rare feature specified by the original owner – complement a distinctive Ascot styling detail: the polished aluminum beltline molding that runs along the body, emphasizing the length of the car.
Following a 2 1/2-year restoration, with receipts in excess of $400,000, the Ascot made its debut at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. First, it participated in the 70-mile Tour d’Elegance® without issue, and it then made its way to the show field, where it was honored with a Second in Class award as well as the prestigious Lucius Beebe Trophy.
In addition to the restoration receipts and other documentation, the car comes with an original set of tools found in its leather trunk along with samples of the original paint color and upholstery, which corroborate this color combination. The rear windscreen is adjustable, as are its attached windings, providing protection from wind and the elements for the rear seat passengers.
The combination of the refined Springfield chassis clothed with dashing Brewster Ascot coachwork presents a splendid example of Rolls-Royce in America’s finest offering. Just 17 of these handsome Ascot Tourers are currently listed in the RROC roster, and this example still carries its original open coachwork and drivetrain. Still fresh from its expert restoration and with a significant award to its credit, this Rolls-Royce offers its next owner plentiful opportunities for recognition on the show field as well as on the road.