A direct descendant of the Silver Ghost, the Rolls-Royce Phantom I was launched in May 1925. For the most part, the Phantom I chassis was identical to that of its predecessor. It did offer customers two different wheelbase lengths from which to choose: 143.5 inches or 150.5 inches. The Phantom I’s transmission was also the same as before, except that the old cone clutch was replaced with a new, single dry-plate clutch-more conducive to smoother operation.
It didn’t take long before the new Phantom was subjected to a speed test at Brooklands; the results were not in keeping with the reputation of Rolls-Royce’s superior performance. When carrying average open tourer coachwork, timekeepers confirmed that the new model was not capable of a top speed as good as the 1911 London-to-Edinburgh version of the Silver Ghost.
Under strict order from Rolls-Royce designer Ivan Evernden, another tourer body was constructed following his design specifications. Evernden did not compromise on quality, but neither did he hesitate to design a lightened body. On another test at Brooklands, Rolls-Royce achieved success, with the Evernden lightweight exceeding 89 mph.
When Rolls-Royce purchased the American coachbuilder Brewster and Company in 1926, not only was the British company assured of the high-quality bodies for which Brewster was known, but Rolls-Royce was able to apply the lessons learned in designing lightweight coachwork. The result was what many feel were the most striking bodies ever installed on Rolls-Royce chassis, with performance to match.
The Ascot phaeton, as fitted to S364LR, has proven to be one of the most exquisite designs of the classic era. Its finely crafted lines, accented with polished aluminum beltlines, combine with the graceful 21″ wire wheels to make this one of the most stylish phaetons of the era. Only 21 Ascot Phaetons were built, and this example is one of those original cars.
Built for A.E. Bell, founder and owner of the Bel Aire Hotel in Los Angeles, S364LR was eventually sold to famous NBC announcer Dave Garroway of Chicago. It ended up in the well-known collection of Richard Kughn, who restored the car to concours condition. The seller purchased the car from Mr. Kughn almost ten years ago. Finished in black livery with biscuit interior, it remains in high-point condition and is also in excellent mechanical condition.