1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Riviera Town Brougham by Brewster & Co.
- Offered from the Estate of John M. O’Quinn
- One of only 10 bodied by Brewster & Co.
- Fascinating provenance, documented by Beverly Rae Kimes
- Formerly owned by James H.R. Cromwell
- Multiple awards, including 2003 Pebble Beach Class Winner and J.B. Nethercutt Award for Most Elegant Automobile
- Magnificent gold-plated exterior trim with original exterior cane work
“The Phantom I Brewster Riviera was priced at $19,965 and, equipped for the road, weighed 5,450 pounds. Ten were built. The four passenger close-coupled body featured two auxiliary seats folding flush into the division. Rear compartment occupants communicated with the chauffeur by way of a call buzzer on the right rear quarter. The standard vanity case was specified to include a clock, mirror pad, ashtray and Dunhill lighter. Passengers luxuriated on a well-upholstered tufted seat with foot rests for their further comfort, and a ‘Brewster reading lamp’ over the backlight window allowed them to peruse business papers or a favorite novel. Marquetry panels were featured on the division and rear doors, with walnut or mahogany mouldings around the top edge. The cane work on the Riviera was courtesy of Brewster. The gold plating on Riviera S390LR was extra.”
Such was the description of this special automobile by the late, highly respected automotive historian Beverly Rae Kimes in The Classic Car (Summer 2006).
In her article, Ms. Kimes went on to describe the cane work “as properly distinctive” but the gold-plated metal trim “as gilding the lily.” Even among the most luxurious of Rolls-Royces, S390LR was a particularly unique car. The first owner of this magnificent machine was a woman – Irene Mamlock Simon Schoelkopf Carman. Born in Ohio, little is known of her early life until her marriage to Michael Simon, a clothing manufacturer. The marriage lasted until Simon’s business failed, and Irene remarried soon after her divorce was final. She did quite well, as her second husband, C.P. Hugo Schoelkopf, a widower, was one of the wealthiest men in Buffalo, New York.
Her love of fine jewellery was well-known, including a reported robbery of $500,000 of her gems during a New Year’s Eve party at a Manhattan apartment. Accounts in the New York Times noted her to “have a hobby of precious stones.” The apartment belonged to actor Frank Barrett Carman who was referred to as Mrs. Schoelkopf’s “dancing instructor.” One might infer that Mr. Carman was more than that; a week after the robbery (the jewels were recovered), the Schoelkopfs separated, divorcing in August 1926. Irene married Mr. Carman in February 1927, a man whom one reporter described as “good looking, but poor.” Apparently Irene agreed as the couple divorced some months later.
Mr. Schoelkopf became gravely ill, and whether Irene was summoned to his side or not, she appeared at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In February 1928, the couple reconciled; Hugo Schoelkopf died days later on February 24, 1928. One can surmise that Irene was well taken care of financially as she took delivery of her gold-plated Rolls-Royce Phantom I S390LR on December 23, 1929.
First introduced in 1925, the Rolls-Royce New Phantom (later known as the Phantom I) boasted an entirely new OHV six-cylinder engine displacing nearly 7.7 litres. In stock form, it developed 108 hp, a marked improvement over its predecessor. Its chassis, however, would remain the same as that of the Silver Ghost that preceded it and would continue until the introduction of the Phantom II in 1929. It carried on the use of spectral names for Rolls-Royces to come including the Wraith and Spirit. And once again, as a Rolls-Royce it was almost sinfully well-built. A three-year guarantee was provided with each Phantom sold, and the owner was admonished to return his or her car to the factory every 50,000 miles for dismantling and examination. Little wonder these cars were called the “Best in the World.” Phantom Is were all powered by a massive 7.7-litre straight six that the British motoring press reported as “essentially silent at 80mph.” Production of the Phantom I continued through 1931 at both the Rolls-Royce U.K. and U.S. plants; 2,212 were produced in England with another 1,241 Springfield models.
Speculation is that Mrs. Schoelkopf, though financially well cared for, tempered her rampant spending as she disposed of the Rolls-Royce in April 1932. The car’s next owner was James H.R. Cromwell, who was described as “a sportsman and gambler who was going through his inheritance at a furious clip.” After his father’s death, Cromwell’s mother Eva married Edward T. Stotesbury, a prominent Philadelphian and partner in the investment banking firm Drexel & Co. as well as J.P. Morgan in New York. James therefore grew up in Philadelphia and went on to lead an extraordinary life; he was a diplomat, Ambassador of the United States to Canada, author and even candidate for U.S. Senate. In fact, his sister was married to General Douglas MacArthur.
Living up to his reputation, however, he parted company with the gilded Rolls little more than a year later. By this point, his first marriage to automotive tycoon Horace Dodge’s daughter Delphine of Grosse Pointe, Michigan had come to an end. Two years later, he would famously marry Doris Duke, the famed tobacco heiress and namesake of Duke University.
The car was a settlement of debts with Nathaniel P. Hill who subsequently owned the car for nearly eight years when it was sold to G.W. Stark. Little is known about Stark, except that he kept the car safe from scrap metal drives so common during wartime, which claimed countless historically important motor cars. He sold the car in May 1946 to August Zulskall of Cobleskill, New York. Thanks to its rather conspicuous appearance, rather than drive the car, Zulskall chose to put it up on blocks in his garage.
During the mid-fifties, G. Willard Blauvelt of Herkimer, New York took possession of the car. Blauvelt is considered the first hobbyist owner of the car. Besides taking the car to Rolls-Royce Owners Club meetings, he began restoration of the car. A decade later, Bob McVoy from Poland, New York became the owner of S390LR with its odometer reading just 50,000 miles. McVoy drove the car another 20,000 miles, reportedly with his friend, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, behind the wheel on occasion. The gilded Rolls remained in his possession until early 1996 when it was sold to Roger and Sissy Morrison of Salina, Kansas.
The Morrisons chose to restore S390LR, engaging Rick Hamlin of Rick’s Automotive in Wellington, Kansas to perform the work. “The cane work on the rear of the car was an art carried over from carriage days,” said Mr. Morrison. “I was told by Art Soutter (the last employee at the Springfield plant, who closed its doors in 1936) that the Brewster Company had one employee who used thickened paint and squeezed it through a tool, as you would decorate a cake. The horizontal lines were applied first, followed by the vertical and then the diagonal. Two to three months was required to complete a car. Amazingly the cane work applied in 1929 was still in remarkably good condition and was carefully preserved during the restoration.” Also preserved were the gold-plated brightwork and the extravagant rear interior wood inlays.
Following the restoration, the Morrisons completed the Pebble Beach Road Tour with S390LR in 2003, winning First Place in the Pre-WWII Rolls-Royce class and the J.B. Nethercutt Trophy for the Most Elegant Closed Car at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. At Amelia Island in 2004, the car was awarded the Most Outstanding Rolls-Royce. And, at the CCCA Spring Grand Classic at the Gilmore Museum that same year, S390LR was judged 100 points followed by Most Elegant Car honours the next day at The Experience. The car has since joined the esteemed collection of the late John M. O’Quinn, wherein it has been treated to climate-controlled storage.
Resplendent with gold trim and sumptuous detailing, S390LR is considered by experts to be the “Rolls-Royce of Rolls-Royces” and is unique among the finest motor cars of a by-gone era. Coupled with its interesting history and extraordinary, if not extravagant, appointments, this Rolls-Royce would, without question, complement the finest of collections and be a welcome participant in concours events the world over.
As part of a large private collection, this car has seen limited exercise. RM strongly advises the successful bidder carry out a thorough service before driving the car on the open road.
Please note that this car is eligible for import into the UK at 5% VAT.