Lot 135

New York - ICONS 2017

1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Riviera Town Car by Brewster


$307,500 USD | Sold

United States | New York, New York



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  • The only example of this stunning design produced on a Silver Ghost chassis
  • Elegant petit-point embroidery, Venetian inlay mahogany, and gold interior accents
  • Best in Class, 2012 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
  • Formerly of the famed Dr. Erle M. Heath and Gene Littler collections
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic

Stunning lines created by close-coupled bodywork with a low folding windshield, curved carriage-style front doors, a petite-yet-elegant rear passenger compartment, and emphasis on the great length of its bonnet distinguished the Rolls-Royce Riviera from contemporary luxury vehicles. In many ways, stylistically similar to the fabulous Coupe Napoleon Bugatti Type 41 “Royale” of the same period, it ranks among the most significant and desirable body styles for Springfield-built Rolls-Royces.

Of the 10 Riviera bodies produced by Brewster, 390XH is believed to be the only example built on the Silver Ghost chassis; the nine other Riviera bodies are on Phantom I chassis. This Riviera was delivered on 7 December 1929, to industrialist Augustine Leftwich Humes of New York City, who commissioned several striking details not typically seen in town cars of that era, such as fine embroidered upholstery and Venetian mahogany inlays. Chassis 390XH wears magnificent alloy wheel disks over polished wire wheels.

Subsequent owners included early Rolls-Royce enthusiasts E.E. Greiner and C. Burke, the latter of whom sold the car in 1970 to Dr. Erle M. Heath of Pittsburgh, perhaps the most noted American Rolls-Royce collector of his era and a beloved figure in the hobby. Dr. Heath was an amateur videographer and is well-remembered by longtime Classic Car Club of America members for the films he took of the club’s Annual Meetings at Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania. Under the ownership of Dr. Heath, this Riviera gathered numerous awards, including at Hershey and the RROC’s Scher Trophy for Best Silver Ghost in 1973.

After remaining part of the Heath collection for over a decade, the Riviera was sold through a California dealer to an innkeeper in Mendocino, California, then passed to legendary golfer Gene “The Machine” Littler, himself a respected car collector. Littler described the Riviera as one of his four favorite automobiles. In 1990, it was acquired by Bill Patton of Orange County, California, who owned the car for 19 years. After being sold from the Patton collection, it was freshened and shown in 2012 at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, winning Best in Class, and displayed at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance before joining its current owner’s stable.

Almost from new, 390XH has been a well-known fixture in the Rolls-Royce community; it was featured as the cover car in the January 1973 issue of Hemmings Motor News. Throughout this Riviera’s history, it was never fully restored but rather maintained and preserved. In other publications, it has been described as having a 100-point restoration when, in fact, aside from being re-painted several years ago, it remains substantially original. “Preservation” would be the most appropriate word to use for describing this magnificent automobile. For those interested in touring, the current owner—who has been a Rolls-Royce aficionado for over 40 years—states his confidence level in the car’s performance is as high as it gets for any pre-war Rolls-Royce he has ever driven. It has a beautiful patina, which adds soul to this elegant and ageless vehicle.

Inarguably one of the most elegant and significant Silver Ghosts, this important automobile stands ready to take its pride of place in another renowned collection, continuing a tradition of ownership by those who recognize greatness when they see it.