Here’s something you won’t find at just any car sale: the 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 Springfield Brewster Lonsdale limousine that financier Henry Goldman bought new the day after the Goldman Sachs Trading Corp. opened in December 1928. (He had left the company years before.)
It’s for sale exclusively via Pete Siegel, who owns a shop for high-end collectibles on 57th Street in New York.
The current owner of the car, Jason Roberts, is a British commercial pilot. He stopped into Siegel’s store on a whim, looking for collectibles. But Roberts was so impressed with Siegel’s eye for curation that he asked whether the 22-year veteran shop owner would consider selling a classic Rolls-Royce exclusively through the boutique.
“I was excited about the car because it’s business-oriented, with a real story behind it,” Siegel said, noting that most of his clients are finance and hedge fund guys who appreciate pieces of history that are virtually impossible to find: a $130,000 check John D. Rockefeller signed in 1884 for Standard Oil; an original photograph of Abraham Lincoln in 1860; Mickey Mantle's Yankees jersey. “Any time I take something like that, I sell it.”
This something is indeed special. Goldman, who was the son of the founder of the bank, bought the six-seat Rolls just weeks after the Guggenheims, who lived in the same building on Fifth Avenue, bought a similar model. (The timing is telling: Although there is no way to know for sure, Siegel believes Goldman envied the Guggenheims' new car so much he bought one.)
The car first resided at the very prestigious 998 Fifth Ave. building, the first luxury apartment house built on Fifth Avenue. It had long housed members of the Guggenheim family and Levi Morton, who served as U.S. vice president from 1889 to 1893.
Better yet, it drives like a dream, Roberts said.
“It’s enormously powerful,” he said on Wednesday by phone from Cuba. Roberts bought the car seven years ago for £45,000 ($57,000 at today's exchange rate). “It’s very heavy. It’s very old fashioned. You have to anticipate your braking very carefully. But once you get used to the car’s performance, it’s actually quite sprightly to drive. It’s very fast.”
This Rolls has a dark, two-tone, ebony-and-oxblood body color with smooth, wooden trim on the interior, along with leather seats and a wide, slim steering wheel. (The car has been repainted on the outside and redone inside, with the chassis and undercarriage cleaned and repaired.) All the original papers and documentation come with it, as well as several books and registrars from decades ago that mention it. One, in particular, noted that “the doors are substantial, close with a lovely thunk.”
It comes with its original 7,668-cubic-centimeter, six-cylinder, 50-horsepower engine, with a three-speed manual transmission and a two-axle, rigid body. Top speed for those models at the time was nearly 90 miles per hour. Several documents record its weight at 5,700 pounds; the chassis is number S270FP, with coachwork done by the historic firm, Brewster & Co. As with any vintage car, prospective buyers should evaluate it for rust and water damage, accident history, and the integrity of the hoses, belting, and mechanical systems under the hood, among other things.