Pictured below sitting in our parking lot awaiting pickup is Allen Swift’s 1928 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly P1 Roadster. Quite a number of years ago, Mr. Swift commissioned us to remove the body from the frame, send the engine to his long time friend Frank Cooke for reconditioning, and restore the frame, body, and interior to its original color, two-tone green combination with gold leaf striping and initials. Mr. Smith had been driving the car for well over half a century and we were pleased to have been chosen to restore the car.
We established our business in 1978, so it’s no surprise that this was the first original-owner P1 Springfield Rolls we’d ever undertaken. Well cared for all its life, it was a treat to restore. Once done, we called to ask Allen when he would like it delivered. “Delivered?” he said. “I’ll pick it up.” And he did. A robust individual in his eighties at this point. he gave the car a good look over, thanked all involved, paid the bill. and asked the easiest route to the Merritt Parkway. He’d come down on the Interstate. but felt the Merritt, an older more twisty four-lane parkway more appropriate for his shiny green Rolls Royce. They don’t build the cars or the owners like they used to! Drive on!
Sometimes the thought that you put into an expression of love and pride can last for a lifetime.
In 1928, M. Allen Swift of Springfield, Mass., received a new 1928 Rolls-Royce Picadilly P1 Roadster as a graduation gift from his father. Over the years, the son put 170,000 miles on it, and drove it until October 2005 when he died at the age of 102.
Swift was a legend among Rolls-Royce collectors for owning his green Phantom I, S273 FP Rolls longer than anyone in the world had ever owned an individual Rolls-Royce. In recognition of that fact, Rolls-Royce Motors presented him with a crystal Spirit of Ecstasy award at the Rolls-Royce Annual Meeting in 1994.
In fact, Swift Swift also set a record for being the oldest living person to have owned a car from new.
The Swift Rolls-Royce still runs smoothly and remains in pristine condition after a 1988 work over, green on green and the body off and frame painted by Automotive Restorations Inc. The engine work was handled by Vintage Garage of Brookfield, Mass.
On his passing, Swift left the car to the Springfield Museums, along with $1 million to create a new history museum. The bequest holds a special meaning for Springfield since, in 1920, British automaker Rolls-Royce sought to establish a plant in the U.S. and Springfield was selected as the site because it boasted a high number of skilled craftsmen. Over the history of the company, 2,944 vehicles were produced in Springfield. The Rolls-Royce automobiles on view include the Swift car and a 1925 Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster formerly owned by S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of Friendly’s.
Perhaps most important, Swift’s father had many years to watch his son cherish and care for this gift of a lifetime. And the son had many more years in his extraordinarily long life to treasure a loving gift from his dad.