1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom IIHenley Roadster
Year of manufacture1931
- Complete ground-up restoration
- Documented by the Rolls-Royce Foundation
- Rebodied with attractive Henley roadster coachwork
- One of the most attractive Rolls-Royces of its era
Introduced in 1925 to replace the Silver Ghost, the New Phantom (retrospectively known as the Phantom I) boasted an entirely new overhead-valve six-cylinder engine displacing 7,668 cc and, like the contemporary 20-hp model, adopted a disc-type clutch and adjustable radiator shutters. Its chassis though, remained essentially the same as that of the later, four-wheel-braked Silver Ghost and would continue fundamentally unchanged until the arrival of the Phantom II in 1929, which brought with it an entirely new frame.
Like its predecessor, the New Phantom was also produced by Rolls-Royce of America Incorporated, a subsidiary set up in December 1919 when the parent company purchased the American Wire Wheel Company’s plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Springfield began production of the New Phantom in 1926, and by the second half of 1929 production had risen to 12 cars per week. This would prove to be the high point of Rolls-Royce of America’s success. The October ’29 stock market crash along with the introduction of the Phantom II, which required re-tooling for which the U.S. company could ill afford, signaled the beginning of the decline.
Unlike its British-built counterpart, the American product could be ordered with ‘factory’ coachwork, usually by Brewster, the latter company having been taken over by Rolls-Royce in December 1925. As well as manufacturing coachwork of the highest quality, Brewster had built its own automobiles. From 1915 until its acquisition by Rolls-Royce, Brewster was re-emerging as an auto-maker in its own right using a Ford chassis. When American Phantom production finally ceased in 1934, the company became part of the reconstituted Springfield Manufacturing Corporation.
The Henley, commonly referred to as the Henley Roadster since it has roll-up windows, is actually a convertible coupe. Built by Brewster at its Queensboro Plaza Works in Long Island City, the attractive Henley is considered one of the most desirable body styles ever placed on the Rolls-Royce chassis. Very few classic body styles match the near-perfect balance of line and mass that the Henley achieves. The Springfield Phantom II, carrying a light body (like the Henley), is a very satisfying car to drive as they are fast, ride smoothly, and stop well. The Henley body offers the joys of open-air motoring or the comfort of a closed cockpit at the inclination of the owner, ideal for touring regardless of weather.
This elegant Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom II was ordered on 20 March 1931 and originally fitted with a Keswick body. On the last day of 1931, it was delivered to its first owner A.C. Burrage of Boston, Massachusetts. John H. Chapin of New York acquired this Phantom on 23 December 1949 as documented by Rolls-Royce before selling it to Mr. Sexton P. Phelps of New York on 9 January 1957. Rolls-Royce Foundation records indicate it was bodied as this stunning Henley roadster by the 1950s. The Rolls-Royce then moved to Chicago under the ownership of Frederick W. Spiegel and would remain in Illinois until 1985.
Recently benefitting from a comprehensive ground-up restoration, this handsome Henley is in concours condition, ready for further exhibition and touring. The wheels feature all-new chrome and new spokes, while the exterior is freshly finished in a striking dark blue. Inside, there is all-new leather and new wool carpets with a new matching canvas convertible top. All the rich wood accents on this Rolls-Royce have been refinished to a show-quality finish. The original 7.6-liter six-cylinder engine looks incredible, is nicely detailed, and performs brilliantly. Several pieces of significant and important documentation accompany the car such as the copies of the chassis build sheet, chassis cards from 1931 and 1949, the Schoellkopf card from 1957, and Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club registrations.
Lovely to behold and a pleasure to drive, this Henley Roadster represents an exciting opportunity to own a truly spectacular classic Rolls-Royce.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am19.