Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Brewster
Formerly the Property of Hal Blaine and Bill McClenahan
According to Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club records, this striking Springfieldbuilt 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, S162 PM, was originally fitted with Arundel Limousine bodywork supplied under the Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work (RRCCW) program. The Phantom I was sold new to Paul Rodman Mabury, the wealthy Los Angeles-area banker and noted American art collector, on August 11, 1927. In 1933, the original body was replaced by the striking Playboy body by Brewster that it continues to wear today. According to experts, all Phantom I Playboys began as limousines when new and were later rebodied, as was common with many of the Springfield Rolls-Royce. Just 13 Playboys were built in all.
The next documented owner of S162 PM was Sonya Levien Hovey, a prolific Hollywood screenwriter with many credits including the screenplay for the 1955 smash Oklahoma! Past oral accounts have held that S162 PM may have been owned during the 1930s by renowned Western movie actor Tom Mix, who reportedly sent it to Bohman & Schwartz in Pasadena, for modifications to his specific requirements. Certainly, though, the car’s fenders were redesigned in the coachbuilder’s distinctive style and the headlamps were repositioned at the base of the radiator grille. Other changes included installation of a central fog lamp and an in-dash radio; and interestingly, adding credence to the Tom Mix provenance, the fitment of a shift knob monogrammed with the letter “M”.
According to Hal Blaine–the renowned drummer, session musician, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (who eventually purchased the car on July 31, 1970)–after the accidental death of Mix in 1940, the car went to Jack Warner, head of Warner Brothers Studios, and then to screen icon Bette Davis. She reportedly $400,000–$500,000 returned the car and it eventually entered the Warner Brothers film prop department. There are several copy photographs in the history file of the car on location for Giant and as the Warner Brothers, transporter prior to leaving for filming in Texas. The car is confirmed to have appeared in at least two Warner Brothers films, including The FBI Story (1959) starring Jimmy Stewart and the star-studded Inside Daisy Clover (1965) with Robert Redford, and copy stills are included in the history file. After Mr. Blaine acquired the car in 1970, S162 PM transported noted stars in Hollywood parades and was featured on the cover of Al Wilson’s hit 1973 album, Show and Tell.
Mr. Blaine sold S162 PM to a friend in 1982 and Bay Area collector Bill McClenahan acquired it in November 1983. Around this time, the Rolls-Royce was featured on the cover of the book Cars: The Old Classics by Andrew Whyte. Under Mr. McClenahan, S162 PM was restored and refinished in Dove Grey and white, toured occasionally, and maintained and freshened by Robert Potts Restorations in Burlingame, California. The Playboy eventually joined the Anaheim-based Art Astor Collection, and it was displayed at the 2006 Art Center Classic in Pasadena, honoring coachbuilders including Bohman & Schwartz.
In June 2008, the Playboy was acquired by the current owner and since then, S162 PM has resided in the UK, where the owner embarked upon a project to return the car its more standard appearance, as when it left Brewster’s coachworks in 1933. As much as he admired the rich history of the car, the owner preferred the svelte lines of the original Brewster design, so he commissioned well-known craftsman Simon Isles of Disley, Cheshire, to copy some original Brewster fenders and fit them to the car. A concourslevel, bare-metal repaint was then executed in black cellulose. As presented, the overall effect of the recent work is quite stunning with the elegant bodylines now much more prominent, and the black coachwork contrasts beautifully with the buttoned maroon upholstery. The complete Bohman & Schwartz fenders accompany the sale of the car.
Eligible for RROC events and a CCCA Full Classic, S162 PM offers an incomparable opportunity as one of just 13 examples of the exceedingly sporty yet elegant Playboy produced on the Rolls-Royce Phantom I chassis. However, with its fascinating Hollywood history including on-screen movie work and appearances on record and book covers, combined with its recent return to a correct period appearance, S162 PM will surely continue to entrance all onlookers with its distinctive style and commanding presence.