Monterey

Monterey Conference Center
18 - 20 August 2022
Lot 256

1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Henley Roadster by Brewster

Offered From The Terence E. Adderley Collection

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$900,000 - $1,300,000 USD 

United States | Monterey, California

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Chassis No.
224AJS
Engine No.
N55U
Body No.
7316
Documents
US Title
To be offered on Friday, 19 August 2022
  • The only original Phantom II Henley Roadster available
  • Extraordinary, conserved condition throughout
  • Well-known ownership history with fascinating individuals
  • Accompanied by copies of Rolls-Royce Foundation build and ownership documentation
  • An important prewar Rolls-Royce with abundant preserved character
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To the connoisseur of the American Rolls-Royce, the Henley Roadster occupies the same illustrious position as the disappearing-top convertible coupe on the Duesenberg or the speedster on the Auburn. It is the ultimate expression of the coachbuilder’s art and the iconic design on its chassis, with unusually dramatic lines, including a hood extended back to a raked cowl line, dramatically flared open fenders, and the subtle falling of the beltline behind a low vee’d windshield. Every movement of the artist’s pencil was carefully considered on the Henley Roadster, resulting in a shape both perfectly proportioned and thoughtfully comfortable; the “dickey seat” was fitted with its own, nearly invisible door.

As befits the best design on any Full Classic chassis, the Henley Roadster was produced in very limited number—11 examples, two fitted to used Phantom I chassis, and nine to Phantom IIs. Equally fitting, each was delivered to an especially notable, interesting person; also like a Model J Duesenberg, a Henley Roadster never went to anyone boring, then or now.

224AJS: THE “DR. KEYES” HENLEY ROADSTER

Svante Magnus Swenson’s grandfather and namesake had been a pioneer in acquiring vast tracks of land in Texas, which subsequent generations built into equally immense and highly profitable cattle ranches; his father, E.P. Swenson, founded the West Texas town of Stamford and contributed mightily to the area’s economy in the 1900s, while also maintaining a family office in New York City and serving as chairman of the National City Bank of New York. Svante the younger worked for another family business, a sulfur producer, before joining the cattle company in 1930; he would eventually become president and chairman of the board, holding the latter role at his passing in 1966.

More importantly to this story, Svante M. Swenson favored British machines of beautiful line. He bought no fewer than two new Phantom I Derby Tourers (!), and, later in life, a Bentley R-Type Continental. In February 1934, he took delivery of this Henley Roadster, number 7416, on chassis number 217AMS—a car whose delivery had been, needless to say, severely delayed by the constraints of the Depression.

In 1938 the Swenson Henley Roadster was acquired by Dr. Frederick G. Keyes of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a professor of chemistry at MIT known for his work with ultraviolet rays; it was he who discovered that the rays could kill germs and be useful in sterilization. The studied sort who could appreciate exceptional engineering, Dr. Keyes understandably found the Henley Roadster body especially attractive but the chassis beneath it had seen better days; accordingly, before delivery he had the body mounted to a lower-mileage chassis, 224AJS. He then kept the Phantom II for the next 33 years.

The car was extremely well-maintained and used regularly. It participated often in events of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, which Dr. Keyes joined at its founding, including at the first RROC meet held, naturally, in Springfield, Massachusetts, in June 1952; there this car won 2nd in Class. Shortly thereafter, the fastidious Dr. Keyes reportedly had the Henley Roadster crated and shipped to the Rolls-Royce service depot at Hythe Road, London, where it was carefully sorted mechanically and then returned back across the Atlantic in his ownership. Upon its return stateside the car won Best of Show at another RROC National Meet, this one in Cobleskill, New York.

In 1971, the elderly Dr. Keyes finally parted with his prized automobile, selling it to his neighbor and fellow enthusiast, Mark Gibbons, who would similarly become an extremely long-term caretaker—in fact, he exceeded Dr. Keyes’s ownership, keeping the car until the early 2000s, while leaving it untouched save for a new top and some plating. The Phantom II was then purchased in 2003 by Dennis Gibbs of California, next passing in 2007 to the respected collector, Ervin “Bud” Lyon of New Hampshire, who displayed it at that year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In 2011 it was acquired for the Adderley Collection, coming to rest in its halls alongside several other highly significant Brewster-bodied Springfield Rolls-Royces.

Each owner of 224AJS has, importantly, recognized it for what it is, and left it alone. It is believed to retain the original Brewster Green paint and black leather interior upholstery, and the mechanical components, sorted over the years but never truly “restored,” retain a magnificent patina in character with the rest of the automobile. It is accompanied by an owner’s handbook and Dr. Keyes’s service book, with his name inscribed on the cover.

Only seven Phantom II Henley Roadsters remain extant for the world to enjoy. That offered here is the only one anticipated to be available in the near future, and, equally significantly, is the only one that remains in substantially original, lovingly conserved condition. Surely a future Preservation Class standout, it awaits its next position in yet another noted collection, following in the tire treads of Dr. Frederick Keyes, Mark Gibbons, Bud Lyon, and Terence Adderley.