In 1921, Rolls-Royce chose Springfield, Massachusetts to begin building their US-built Rolls-Royce automobiles. It was chosen for its proximity to major northeastern markets and important suppliers as well as the supply of skill craftsmen trained in the armories of the Connecticut River valley and the New England machine tool industry. The 40/50 horsepower Silver Ghosts were shipped from England and assembled in Springfield, under the watchful eye of around fifty experienced Rolls-Royce hands who emigrated from Derby.
Rolls-Royce offered standard coachwork with the bodies ordered from several independent coachbuilders and built in quantities of up to twenty at a time. These were badged as 'Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work' and were built by Brewster, as well as Smith Springfield, New Haven, Merrimack, Willoughby and Biddle and Smart. Soon, business was very strong and Rolls-Royce established its own coachworks in Springfield. The Custom Coach Work bodies and later Rolls-Royce cataloged coachwork from Brewster - which it acquired in 1926 - were among the most elite bodies produced in the world.
In 1926, Rolls-Royce introduced the Phantom I and the addition of several new bodies including the open Ascot, Derby and Speedster. Further changes continued throughout the years, including the use of aluminum cylinder heads, chrome-plated exterior bright work, flat bar bumpers, servo-assisted four-wheel brakes, thermostatically-controlled radiator shutters and conical headlamp housings in 1929. These changes were well liked by the American public, resulting in sales reaching 350 automobiles for 1929.
This Ascot Sport Phaeton was delivered to Alphonzo E. Bell, a California entrepreneur and developer. This car has a raked single piece windscreen and graceful flowing fenders. Its appearance is very similar to the rear fender Speedster and the rare York Roadster.
After leaving Bell's care, the history of the car is not fully known. By 1946, it was owned by radio announcer Dave Garroway and would later be given a complete restoration. It was purchased by Detroit collector Richard Kughn where it would reside for many years. It was sold in the early 1990s to Canadian collector Grant Burton, who enjoyed it for many years, selling it to the present owner in 2000 via Ohio collector Richard Scott. The car was given a refresher by RM Auction Restorations in the mid-2000s which included the fitting of a new top, comprehensive detailing, tune-up, and repainting the fenders.
The car is painted in black and has tan leather upholstery and black cloth top. It rides on chrome wire wheels and wide whitewall tires. There are dual sidemounts with black metal enclosures with chrome bands and mirrors. Above the flat chrome front ribbon bumpers are a pair of small Pilot-Ray driving lights. Other features to this car are matching wind wings, a black cloth-covered luggage trunk, and varnished wood molding caps.
In 2009, this Phantom I Ascot Sport Phaeton was offered for sale at the Automobiles of Arizona auction presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $350,000 - $450,000. The lot was sold for a high bid of $330,000 including buyer's premium.
In 2010, it was brought to Gooding & Company's Scottsdale Auction where it was estimated to sell for $300,000 - $350,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $385,000, inclusive of buyer's premium.Also photographed at :