Thursday, June 29, 2006


From around 1915 on, the sporty coachwork that had been appearing on models like Mercer and Strutz, Mercedes, Benz, Alfa Romeo, and Hispano-Suiza was encouraging designers the world over to take bold new steps in the styling of custom coachwork. For the traditionalists at Rolls-Royce in Derby, however these changes were almost unthinkable, improper, in fact, for the stateliest of motorcars. In 1920 that wasn't what American designers were thinking when R. W. Schuette, Esquire, the Rolls-Royce Representative in New York City, called on Rolls-Royce of America,Inc., in Springfield Massachusetts, with a customer order in hand for a Silver Ghost run-about. A Rolls-Royce roadster? The very idea intrigued Springfield staff because this body design had never been attempted on a chassis as large as the Silver Ghost's 144-inch wheelbase. It would either be a benchmark design for the American branchor a colossal gaff that would give th gentlemen at the club in England something to talk about.
The result was suprisingly handsome, allowing a customary-length Rolls-Royce hood; spacious and luxuriously appointed passenger compartment, albeit just for 2; and a folding companion, or trap seat in the well-proportioned rear deck. Not only was it attractive, the design was so well received that it ostensibly became the prototype for the famed Rolls-Royce Piccadilly Roadsters.
Becasue a runabout had never been made for a Silver Ghost, the body was built right on the chassis. The first boards were laid, the bolts put through, and the heads buried in the rest of the framing. The Springfield factory was still in reproduction in 1921, and this was one of the first cars to be completed.
A total of 79 runabouts , or Piccadilly Roadsters, were produced on the Silver Ghost chassis after 1921 and another 50 on the later Phantom I chassis, all were built in the United States. The 1921 Springfield runabout is the first and the rarest of the great Piccadilly Roadsters.


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