Like its Ghost predecessor, the New Phantom (retrospectively known as the Phantom I) was also produced by Rolls-Royce of America Incorporated, a subsidiary set up in December 1919 when the parent company purchased the American Wire Wheel Company’s plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Springfield commenced manufacture of the New Phantom in 1926, and by the second half of 1929 production had risen to 12 cars per week. This would prove to be the high point of Rolls-Royce of America’s fortunes. Unlike its British-built counterpart, the American product could be ordered with official ‘factory’ bodywork, usually by Brewster, the latter company having been taken over by Rolls-Royce in December 1925. The Phantom I was in production for only five years and the Derby-built models ran parallel with the Springfield cars but ended in 1929, whereas the Americans continued until 1931. The last car was delivered in 1932.
The handsome Playboy Roadster coachwork by Brewster was not officially offered as an option to prospective buyers of new Rolls-Royce motorcars. Instead, it was offered as an alternative design to be fitted at a later date, usually once more formal coachwork had been removed and discarded. For this reason, very few Playboy Roadster bodies were made: It is believed that only 15 were fitted to Silver Ghost chassis and 13 to Phantom I chassis.
Cencio and sons were based in Crystal City near Clark Air Base and Angeles City in the Pampanga area of the Philippines. They began the production of automobiles in 1975 and we understand continued until around 1980. Their specialism was the production of 1930s art-deco inspired roadsters from the likes of Rolls-Royce, Packard and Duesenberg but based on more modern American chassis and drivetrains. Referred to as ‘Officers’ Cars’, these vehicles were built from donor cars which American military personnel had shipped from the States to the Philippines, where Cencio’s amazing coachbuilders would then work their magic, hand-crafting exotic roadsters from the ‘American Iron’ frame rails up.
This stunning and very striking example is handmade from a 16 gauge all-steel body, and is powered by a Chevrolet 350cu short block V8 motor fed through a Holley carburettor. Presented in excellent condition, the Roadster has recently benefited from a rebuild of the motor, and has been fitted with rare and desirable period Lucas P100 headlamps. One of 16 known examples worldwide, this is a fascinating car which we sure will be huge amounts of fun for the next owner.