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Motor Mouth articles 2011

High Roller finds its place in history

The late Allen Swift with his record-breaking Rolls-Royce

WHEN Allen Swift graduated from college in 1928, his wealthy father bought him rather a nice gift to mark the occasion – a spanking new Rolls-Royce roadster.

It was, needless to say, in America since that sort of cash – and that sort of parent – was pretty thin on the ground this side of the Atlantic.

Anyway, young Allen treasured the car and drove it regularly for the next 80 years or so until he shuffled off to that great showroom in the sky at the venerable age of 102.

Mr Swift, who lived at West Hartford, Connecticut, had been well-known among enthusiasts for owning his car longer than anyone in the world had ever owned an individual Rolls-Royce.

To recognise this achievement, Rolls-Royce Motors presented him with a crystal Spirit of Ecstasy award at the company’s annual meeting in 1994.

The car had been built in Springfield, Massachusetts, and before his death he bequeathed the Rolls-Royce to Springfield Museum, together with a million dollar legacy so they could create a suitable building in which to display it.

The museum managed to buy a building close to their existing premises, and the magnificent one-owner, two-tone green Phantom I Roller became the star exhibit of the museum’s new transportation collection.

Mr Swift and the Springfield Museum were brought together through a network of antique car collectors and in 2002 he had approached the Museum to discuss finding a new home for his precious car.

Confident in their ability to care for the car and to tell the story of Rolls-Royce manufacturing in Springfield, he said he would donate his car if a building could be found to house it. They found one and Mr Swift’s dream became reality.

Apparently the car has around 170,000 miles on the clock, still runs ‘like a Swiss watch’, is whisper quiet at any speed and is still in perfect cosmetic condition.

It’s a story that speaks volumes for the engineering brilliance of Rolls-Royce, the quality of love and care that Mr Swift must have lavished on it for eight decades, and the excellent taste of his proud dad for choosing such a magnificent gift for his son.

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