Monterey | Lot 348
1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Derby Tourer by Brewster
$340,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
14 August 2021
- Offered from prominent ownership of over 30 years
- Among the sportiest, most desirable styles on the Springfield Phantom I
- Used to illustrate the Derby style in John Webb de Campi’s Rolls-Royce in America
- Original chassis and coachwork; well-preserved older restoration
- Accompanied by Rolls-Royce Foundation documentation
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
THE PHANTOM I DERBY TOURER
Of the numerous body styles catalogued for the Springfield Phantom I, among the sportiest and most attractive was the Derby, named for the town where Rolls-Royce’s main factory operated. Essentially a four-passenger version of Brewster’s dashing York Roadster, the Derby shared that car’s sports car-style curved doors and a low folding windshield, mated to an exceptionally rakish, low-slung top. A folding second cowl and rear windshield graced the close-coupled interior, while the trunk was of a compact, curved design that hugged the body. Long, narrow open fenders accentuated the overall appearance of lightness and speed, unusual for any Phantom I. John Webb de Campi wrote in Rolls-Royce in America that “these were perhaps the handsomest bodies ever put on a Rolls-Royce chassis”—a bold statement, but one seldom argued by anyone who has seen a Derby in the metal.
Mr. De Campi recorded that at least twenty examples of the Derby were produced, some of which were used in-period on more than one chassis, and not all of which have survived. Those that do exist belong to an illustrious roster of caretakers, including some of the world’s most prominent and best-known collectors and museums, resulting in scant availability.
CHASSIS NUMBER S402MR
Chassis number S402MR, offered here, is very special in that it was fitted when new with the Derby coachwork that it has retained for its entire life. Further, as a late-production Phantom I, it was mounted with the attractive C.M. Hall acorn-style head- and side lights, a fashionable upgrade from the earlier drum-style lights. It was delivered on 12 February 1930 to original owner Margaret McCleary Dunlop of Amsterdam, New York, heiress to one of the massive Mohawk County carpet mills and spouse to an executive of another. Mrs. Dunlop would retain ownership of the car for seven years before it was succeeded in the family carriage house by a Phantom III.
S402MR remained in New York, first in the hands of Dorothy Tuckerman, daughter of movie theatre king and talent agent M.A. Shea, who in 1939 evidently traded it in on a Phantom II Brewster Special Newmarket Sedan, with the Derby being acquired by Francis De Beixedon of Easthampton. In 1944 it was owned by a John Neff, resident at a Manhattan hotel. It soon moved across the country, and in 1945 was recorded with T. Ryden Skinner of Sandy, Utah. The following year it moved to San Diego, California, in the hands of Lester P. Wegeforth, member of a prominent local family; his father had founded the San Diego Zoo. Mr. Wegeforth appreciated fine automobiles and is well-remembered as the owner of the infamous “Packenberg,” a 1932 Packard coupe roadster with a Model J Duesenberg engine. The Derby underwent no such shenanigans.
By 1966 the Phantom I had been acquired by the prominent Oklahoma collector and auctioneer, James Leake, one of the most visible faces in the antique automobile hobby from the 1960s into the 1990s. In Mr. Leake’s ownership the car was pictured to illustrate the Derby style in the aforementioned Rolls-Royce in America. It remained part of his personal museum until 1987, when the museum’s contents were sold at auction.
At that time this car was purchased by another prolific collector of the era, Sam Vaughan of Texas, from whose own vast stable it would be acquired by the present collection in 1990. It has remained for over thirty years, well-preserved and much-loved, alongside numerous other highly significant Rolls-Royce models. Its rich chestnut livery, striped in cream and offset by burgundy upholstery and an off-white top, dates from the Leake ownership but remains highly attractive and is still very much in-tune with modern tastes.
This is an opportunity to acquire what is, quite simply, one of the peaks of the Springfield-built Rolls-Royce in both engineering and design—the glamorous, sporting, dramatic Phantom I Derby.