With the emergence of America as the largest potential marketplace for Rolls-Royce cars, and to avoid substantial import taxes, Rolls-Royce set up a new factory in Springfield Massachusetts. The first Springfield produced Rolls-Royces were completed in 1921 and were exact duplications of the Derby built cars. However, to suit the local market, subtle changes (and often improvements) were soon introduced.
The American marketplace was quite different to that of Europe and Great Britain. Buyers were not content to wait weeks or months for coach built bodies to be produced, preferring to purchase cars directly from a showroom, being ready to go or requiring only minor customisation. To satisfy this appetite, Rolls-Royce created several standard designs, usually named after English towns. It is due to this standardisation and advanced American build techniques, that the quality of coachwork offered on Springfield built cars was extremely high. Brewster, one of America’s finest coachbuilders, was purchased by Rolls-Royce allowing greater supply control.
Production of ‘the new Phantom’ (latterly to become known as the Phantom I) commenced in 1925, but not in Springfield until 1926. This was partly due to the alterations needed to suit the local market, many of which were innovative features such as the handle operated Bijur chassis lubrication system, carburettor air cleaner and thermostatically controlled radiator shutters.
Chassis S470MR is a late production Phantom I, originally produced as left-hand drive with a three-speed gearbox and servo assisted brakes. It incorporates all the features of the later cars. Originally built with more formal coachwork, it received its Brewster Regent drophead coupe body in 1935. The Regent coachwork by Brewster was not officially offered as an option for new cars, but was intended to update outdated cars, likely following cars being sold back to Rolls-Royce to aid their resale. A total of twenty-one Phantom I’s received these highly attractive bodies which make for a striking, comfortable and practical touring car.