|Rolls-Royce (chassis 25 EX) taken at the Frank Cooke Estate Sale (from the collection of the author)|
I was fortunate to have meet and known Frank Cooke in his later years. As I've written previously, I grew up not far from North Brookfield, MA, and when Dad purchased his first Rolls-Royce, it was from Frank. Frank was a fascinating character; a melding of engineering intuition and Yankee spirit. He became quite active in the RROC and owned many cars. Favoring Grout steam cars and Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts.
One the most interesting of his cars was the 1930 Phantom II (chassis 25 EX) with very unique Whittingham & Mitchel coachwork. The car was the seventh PII chassis built and used by the factory as a test chassis (as were a hand-full of early PII chassis). According to Bonhams (who has sold this car at least twice since Frank's death), the car was shipped to America and compared with the Springfield factory's Phantom I's being produced at the time (October of 1930). The car was returned to England and by 1933 it's use as a test car was finished. The chassis was restored to PII specification and sold, being re-bodied by Whittingham & Mitchel at the direction of the new owner - J Eskdale of Fishburn, USA and London. It is likely that Eskdale brought the car to the US and by the late 1940's it is in the hands of William Kramer of New York. Roland Blackway of Vermont purchased the car in the early 1950s and Frank Cooke purchased it from Blackway's estate in 1971. The Bonhams auction house would sell the car, along with much of the Cooke Estate, in 2006.
Whittingham & Mitchel Ltd. start life in 1929 in Putney and bodied a small number of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, though are better known for there work with Vauxhall.
I consider this car to be an under-valued treasure. Now overseas, it will be interesting to see if it's restored or returns to the United States.
|25 EX in New York (with William Kramer at the wheel?) (photo credit: Puleo / theoldmotor.com)|