Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Salamanca by Hibbard & Darrin

In order to better serve American clients, Rolls-Royce established a branch factory at Springfield, Massachusetts after World War I. The Silver Ghost model went into production there in 1919, at first nearly identical to the British-built version. Over the years, the Ghost became more Americanized, with left-hand steering, center-change three-speed gearbox, dual coil ignition and suspension modified for a smoother ride.

Rolls-Royce introduced the “New Phantom,” the successor to the long-running but aging Silver Ghost, in 1925. Although the chassis was an evolution of the Ghost, the engine was new, with a detachable overhead-valve cylinder head and larger displacement of 7,668 cc. In 1928, an aluminum cylinder head was substituted for cast iron. The New Phantom was later designated “Phantom I” after a Phantom II was introduced in 1929. With a longer stroke than its predecessor, the Phantom I had tremendous low speed torque and could accelerate from a walking pace to top speed all in top gear.

American Silver Ghost production continued for almost two years after it had halted in Britain, because modification of the New Phantom was very complex. Left-hand drive, in particular, required considerable re-engineering. American Phantoms, when they arrived, had some features not available in Britain: Bijur central lubrication, a disposable oil filter, a carburetor air filter and thermostatically-controlled shutters on the radiator. Most of the cars were bodied in the United States, either with cataloged Rolls-Royce Custom Coachwork, which was built by a number of coachbuilders under contract, or sent out to the likes of Brewster, Murphy or Waterhouse. A few, however, were sent to Paris to be clothed by Hibbard & Darrin.

Established in 1926, Hibbard & Darrin was run by two Americans – Thomas Hibbard, a founder of LeBaron in New York, and Howard Darrin. Darrin, an inventor and entrepreneur from New Jersey, had met Hibbard in New York. Initially Hibbard & Darrin was a design house, with bodies actually built in Belgium by d’Ieteren or Van Den Plas. With capital from an investor, they opened a shop at Puteaux, on the northwest periphery of Paris, where they specialized in one-offs on Duesenberg, Hispano-Suiza, Mercedes-Benz, Packard and Stutz chassis. Their backer pulled out in 1931, whereupon Hibbard returned to the United States and Darrin stayed on to form Fernandez & Darrin with J. Fernandez, a South American-born banker.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

40/65 hp, 7,668 cc overhead valve six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and live rear axle with cantilever leaf springs, four-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 150"

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Salamanca by Hibbard & Darrin