18-19 August 2017

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Lot 237

1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Riviera Town Car by Brewster

  • Chassis no. S390LR
  • Engine no. 21909
  • Body no. 5696

Sold for $825,000

  • “The Gilded Riviera,” an extraordinarily unique and special Phantom I
  • Two-time Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 1st in Class winner
  • Magnificent original canework and gold-plated exterior trim
  • Formerly owned by Robert McVoy and Roger Morrison
  • History documented by the late Beverly Rae Kimes in The Classic Car
  • A Springfield Phantom I of singular, impressive importance

If a custom coachbuilt automobile is a reflection of the style and taste of its owner, then one can easily assume that Irene Schoelkopf Carman was quite a lady. She married well three times, accumulating a vast fortune from the demise of her second husband, C.P. Hugo Schoellkopf, one of the wealthiest men in Buffalo, New York. Over a year after his passing, she invested approximately $19,500 into this utterly splendid Phantom I, one of 10 produced in this style, the Riviera town car.

In an era of stodgy formal town cars, the Riviera was an exception, with curving front doors, a low windshield, and close-coupled bodywork producing an absolutely striking and, yes, sporting design. None, however, were as dramatic as Irene’s. She specified an intercom for directing the chauffeur; a vanity case fitted with a clock, mirror pad, ashtray, and Dunhill lighter; and a reading light over the rear window. Oh, yes, there was also gold – gold-plated exterior trim, everywhere that the eye could see, complemented by canework (or “sham cane”) decorating the rear quarter panels, and interior garnishments of elaborate walnut and mahogany marquetry on the division and inside rear door panels. (All of which, historian Beverly Rae Kimes would later wryly note, “cost extra.”)

The remarkable Rolls was enjoyed by Mrs. Schoellkopf for about three years. In 1932 it was sold to Philadelphia sportsman and socialite James H.R. Cromwell, next passing through a succession of short-term ownerships before its acquisition in the mid-1950s by G. Willard Blauvelt of Herkimer, New York. Mr. Blauvelt was an early Rolls-Royce Owners Club member and took the car to several of their events.

In the mid-1960s the Rolls was sold to Robert McVoy of Poland, New York, who drove it approximately 20,000 miles in three decades, occasionally with his good friend, Governor of New York and future Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, taking a turn at the wheel! During Mr. McVoy’s ownership, the gilded Riviera remained a favorite of historians and journalists, appearing in John Webb deCampi’s Rolls-Royce in America (plate 226) and Kimes’ The Classic Car (p. 700). In the latter, Mr. McVoy said, “The odometer had 50,000 miles when I bought it. There was no rust or rot, and all the original wood,” testifying that the car was not only well maintained in his ownership, but had been for its entire life.

In 1996, Mr. McVoy finally parted with the Riviera, selling it to the great collector Roger Morrison of Salina, Kansas. Rick Hamlin of Rick’s Automotive in Wellington, Kansas, performed a painstaking restoration, preserving the original canework on the rear body panels, as well as the original gold-plated brightwork and extravagant interior wood inlays. This restoration was judged Best in Class and Most Elegant Closed Car at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Most Outstanding Rolls-Royce at the 2004 Amelia Island Concours, and a 100-point winner at the CCCA Michigan Grand Classic. Beverly Rae Kimes again turned her attention to the freshly restored car, documenting its ownership history in a fascinating article in the Summer 2006 issue of The Classic Car, which is recommended reading for all potential buyers.

The Rolls was then acquired by John M. O’Quinn for his legendary collection, from which it was purchased by a respected West Coast collector in 2011. Three years later the car returned to Pebble Beach, where it was again a double award-winner, winning Best in Class, for a second time, and the Lucius Beebe Trophy for Most Elegant Rolls-Royce.

Simply put, few extant Phantom I’s have such spectacular lines, impressive trim, and wonderful provenance as this Riviera, a machine that can be considered one of the most significant examples of its type. It is, like its original owner, bold, flamboyant, and indisputably one of a kind.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more