CHASSIS NO: 5304KP
• Robert Redford driven “Gatsby Rolls” from the original film, The Great Gatsby
• Believed to be the only Ascot Sport Phaeton built as a dual cowl
• Recipient of a fresh, no-expense-spared restoration totaling over $800,000
• Well-documented with ownership history
• Among the most important Hollywood automobiles in existence
• The physical embodiment of the American Dream from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel
7,688 cc, six-cylinder engine, 40/50 HP, front semi-elliptic spring and rear cantilever springs; wheelbase: 143.5”
One of the most iconic motorcars in cinematic and literary history is the Robert Redford driven yellow Rolls-Royce from The Great Gatsby. A 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom is quite a collectible automobile in its own right; an Ascot Sport Phaeton that is the only known dual cowl believed to be built is even more desirable. Add to that, this Rolls is the greatest embodiment of the Roaring Twenties, captured on the silver screen, and you have something incredibly special. The iconography of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel and the film would not be what it is without this magnificent automobile. A symbol of the American Dream, the Roaring Twenties, and the heights in which Gatsby’s fortunes have soared, this rare Rolls-Royce is a character of the narrative itself. When F. Scott Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby, he pulled inspiration from his own life and the wild, wonderful time he was living in. Jay Gatsby’s desperate aspirations to win back his first love paralleled Fitzgerald’s own love affair with his future wife, Zelda. Zelda would come to epitomize the jazz age flapper, but when they met she was a southern debutante in Montgomery, Alabama and F. Scott was a poor, second lieutenant in the army. She claimed she wouldn’t marry him until he made something of himself. Fueled by his passion for Zelda, he wrote This Side of Paradise and claimed her hand in marriage. Unlike Jay Gatsby’s tireless efforts to win Daisy in the novel, Fitzgerald’s success finally won the girl. The couple would go on to be luminaries in the post-World War I, Lost Generation literary set of Paris and his third novel, The Great Gatsby, would be celebrated for generations as, ‘the great American novel.’ The story’s Rolls-Royce functions as an embodiment of Jay Gatsby’s aspirations to become the man Daisy desired, a sign that he’d made it in life, a tangible symbol of the American Dream.
The 1974 film, scripted by Francis Ford Coppola, starred Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby, a brilliant stroke of casting, and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan. The Great Gatsby vividly captures the glamour and wild abandon of the Roaring Twenties and at its aesthetic heart is the 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom offered here. Amidst the heat of pre-production for the film, the search was on for the perfect car to star as Jay Gatsby’s Rolls-Royce. Fitzgerald’s incomparable, ornate style described the car through his narrator, Nick Carraway, “It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory, we started to town.” At last, the filmmakers found their star in chassis S304KP. Its livery was repainted to suit the novel’s description in a creamy yellow with a saffron beltline and its leather interior was dyed a stately green. What made the car all the more apropos for the film was that it possessed a dual cowl, meaning that the driver was separated from the passenger compartment with a folding glass windscreen, which portrayed the “terraced labyrinth of wind-shields,” that Fitzgerald described. This was the real challenge in the production’s search as this car was the only Phantom I Dual Cowl Ascot Sport Phaeton built. The ultimate metaphorical needle in a haystack, Robert Redford had his co-star at long last.
Appropriately, the actual car’s history offers quite the narrative as well. Chassis S304KP started its life with its first owner, Mildred Loring Logan of New York City, in a Town Brougham body. It was then purchased by George Washington Hill, who was the president of the American Tobacco Company. Although the Rolls-Royce factory’s Schoellkopf Cards do not show documented history between 1929 and 1964, extensive research has revealed that the Ascot Sport Dual Cowl Phaeton body originally belonged to chassis S240RM before it was moved to its now legendary Chassis S304KP around 1945. Had it not been for this simple twist of fate, this movie star might never have been discovered. As fate would have it, 36-year owner, Ted Leonard of Seekonk, Massachusetts and Rhode Island purchased the car shortly before its big break in the film. A plethora of documentation and historical records accompany the car and are quite fascinating. There are even photos of Mr. Leonard teaching Robert Redford to drive the rare automobile during filming. The well-known collector maintained and loved the car for the rest of his life. It was then acquired by legendary Texan collector John O’Quinn of Houston who would further own it for the remainder of his life. The current owner would acquire it from the O'Quinn Estate and then decide to give the legendary automobile a return to its former glory.
Sparing no expense in the incredibly correct restoration, a total of over $800,000 was spent to get everything absolutely right. Spanning 2011 through 2019, myriad leading Rolls-Royce experts were brought on board to contribute to the Gatsby Rolls’ restoration. The nation’s preeminent Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost expert, Steve Littin of Vintage Auto and Rebuilds in Chardon, Ohio, conducted the full mechanical restoration. Then, Shawn Robinson of Yesterday’s in Tyler, Texas was hired to perform body restoration and repaint the body to exacting standards. Although the Gatsby Rolls was invited to the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, it has not been shown or toured since its comprehensive restoration and is due for a second act in the most exclusive concours around the world. Just as it was in the 1974 feature film, The Great Gatsby, the enchanting creamy yellow paint dazzles against brightwork that “mirrors a dozen suns.” Fitzgerald’s sumptuous green leather interior beckons passengers into a cabin outfitted with lavish wood trim and a wooden dashboard inlaid with chrome bezels, which captures all the elegance of a bygone era.
Without a doubt, the quintessential Rolls-Royce body style of the classic era is the Ascot Phaeton; being the only known dual cowl makes it a truly singular and important automobile. This fact alone makes this car an immensely valuable Rolls-Royce. The addition to the car’s provenance as one of the most famous motion picture cars to ever grace the silver screen, makes this car nearly priceless. In 2020, Steve McQueen’s iconic pop-culture Mustang from Bullitt fetched a tidy sum and S304KP is clearly in the same class. Hailing from the classic feature film and the symbolic heart of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved novel, The Great Gatsby, this car epitomizes the Roaring Twenties and the American Dream. In short, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “You can’t repeat the past?” In the Gatsby Rolls, “of course, you can, old sport!”