Mrs. Vanderbilt's 1913 Rolls-Royce Brewster Town Car

1913 Rolls-Royce Brewster Town Car (25MA) owned by Mrs. C. Vanderbilt II

1913 Rolls-Royce Brewster Town Car (25MA) owned by Mrs. C. Vanderbilt II
I found these pictures of a 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (25MA) Brewster Town Car (sometimes described as a 1914) among a batch of Rolls-Royce images. This places the chassis in the first series of Silver Ghost chassis to be designated by letters as well as numbers (series A) - or the 10th overall series of silver ghost chassis produced by the factory. This car has a very interesting history as it was imported into America by Brewster & Co. - the New York agents for Rolls-Royce starting in 1914. The car was sold to Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt II (Alice Claypoole Gwynne Vanderbilt, 1845-1934) and bodied by Brewster in the town car livery it wears to today. This car has been attributed to Cornelius Vanderbilt II, but this is not the case as he died in 1899.

According to Mark Theobald of, Brewster & Co. kept a record of each import family’s colors - J. P. Morgan's was dark green, the Vanderbilt's a special maroon, and the Astor's a shade of blue. Apparently, A total of 46 Rolls-Royce chassis were received by Brewster between 1914 and 1916 when shipments ceased due to the sinking of the Lusitania. Ironically, Mrs. Vanderbilt II's son Alfred went down on the Lusitania in May of 1915. Mrs. Vanderbilt II was sometime referred to as the Queen of New York Society and had a notorious rivalry with her sister-in-law which resulted in ever more extravagant homes built in Manhattan and Newport, RI. Upon Mrs. Vanderbilt II death in 1934, I believe the car was inherited by her daughter-in-law, Mrs. C. Vanderbilt III (Grace Wilson). The picture shown herein is subtitled on as Mrs. Vanderbilt III returning to her Rolls-Royce limousine from a clothing store along upper 5th Ave with her chauffeur, Henry, waiting to open the door. I believe this photo shows 25MA.

I've also found reference to Mrs. Vanderbuilt III in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette of 1941. The paper reports on the sale of Mrs. Vanderbilt's mansion at 640 5th Avenue as the end of an era in New York society. They note that Mrs. Vanderbilt (70) inherited the title of Queen of Society from her mother-in-law and comments: "From the maroon color of her ancient Rolls-Royce town car to...".

This leads me to believe that the car was keep in the Vanderbilt family over two generations and most likely disposed of after Mrs. Vanderbilt III's death in 1953. The car next shows up for sale in the RROC's Flying Lady in 1956 (No. 56-3): "SILVER GHOST 1914 Brewster Town car 25 MA, engine 919TG. Originally owned by Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt. Running condition, needs paint. Make offers to E.L. Parker, 5644 Pinetree Drive, Miami Beach, Fla." The car is seen again in the Flying Lady in 1972 (No. 72-2) for sale by Alan L. Blum of Balboa Island, CA for $35,000. By the mid 1980's the car is in the collection of Richard Burdick of Texas and remains with him until the Burdick collection is auctioned in 2010. The car is sold by Dan Kruse Classic Auctions for $286,000 - still retaining it's original engine and bodywork (and possibly some original finishes as well - though the car seems to have been altered a bit from the Vanderbilt's ownership).

I believe this to be 25MA when in the care of Mrs. Vanderbilt III (photo credit:

25MA as advertised for sale in 1972 (photo credit: The Flying Lady, No. 72-2)

25MA when in the Richard Burdick collection (photo credit: Dan Kruse Classic Auctions)

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