Allen Swift received a brand new Rolls-Royce Piccadilly P1 Roadster from his father, and it obviously became something of a treasured possession because he owned it for an incredible 82 years, until his death aged 102.
What is more impressive is that the car was driven pretty much up until the owner’s death. It had some 170,000 miles on the clock, but apparently ran “like a Swiss watch”. The beautiful green convertible was clearly Mr Swift’s pride and joy, and on his passing he made sure that it went into good hands. He bequeathed it to The Springfield Museums, but before he died he also ensured that it would be properly housed. He donated $1,000,000 to the museum so that they could purchase a new building in which to keep the car, and they turned this building into a new museum.
This act of generosity is a testament to Mr Swift’s dedication to his car, and he must have poured time and money into keeping it running. It is indicative, though, of the excellent design and construction by Rolls-Royce that an owner was able to do this. The car is simple and well-made, meaning that it could be maintained, repaired and nurtured. This is true of many classic cars, and while this is the oldest I’ve heard of there are many cars on our roads which are decades old.
It’s interesting to think, though, whether any of the cars we have today would stand this test of time, and if any of their owners would want them too. The computer systems within vehicles these days have made them more complicated and prone to become outdated and unsupportable after a few years. It’s unlikely there’ll be many enthusiasts dedicating their time to tinkering with the onboard computers in Fords. Our culture is more disposable, whereas classic cars were treasured possessions and there is something romantic and alluring about maintaining them.
Rolls-Royce certainly appreciated Mr Swift’s dedication to his motor. In 1994 they presented him with a crystal Spirit of Ecstasy award and officially recognised him as having owned a Rolls-Royce from new longer than anyone else in the world.
There has been some debate about the exact number of years that Allen Swift drove his car for, with some calculating it as 78 years not 82, but either way it seems immaterial. The story is proof of the longevity and good engineering of classic cars, and when you see the elegant green Roadster with its large wheels and proud Spirit of Ecstasy you can understand why he showed it such devotion.
The car is now on show at the Museum of Springfield History in Massachusetts, which details the history of the area from the industrial revolution to the present day. Having come from a wealthy family who will most likely have earned their wealth from manufacturing as a result of the industrial boom, the car is interesting from an historical perspective but will also delight classic car lovers.
Guest post by Kat from Car Loan 4U, who provide affordable car finance in the UK.