The automobile featured in this article, the 1934 Brewster Ford Town Car, is the first of about sixty ever built and is a great example of a chauffeur driven automobile.These automobiles were sold at Rolls Royce showrooms and were not considered or marketed as Ford models. The Brewster Ford is part of a much bigger story. It’s a story about a premiere coach builder for the wealthy that produced bodies for dependable chassis.

brewster ford town car
1934 Brewster Ford Town Car

From 1934-1936, three type of vehicles were produced using the same basic Carl Beck design. Ninety percent of them were built on the lengthened Ford V-8 chassis and featured flared front fenders,a heart shaped grille and split front and rear fenders.

Most Brewster Fords built were town cars like the one here, but number of limousines and convertible sedans were also built  all featuring Brewster’s distinctive hubcaps. The remaining ten percent of Brewster Fords were what they termed “Budget Brewsters”. These Budget Brewsters were built on a standard wheelbase Ford V-8 chassis that utilized a stock Ford grill, fenders and bumpers. The Budget Brewsters were obviously quite different.

brewster coach buildersThere is no mistaking a Ford Town Car with ‘Coachwork by Brewster’.

The styling of its passenger compartment, it’s open chauffeur compartment and enclosed rear seat is traditionally conservative. However when you look from the firewall forward, the wild styling by John Inskip makes the automobile like nothing else on the road.

Big flared wing like fenders and angular three bar bumpers both began from the bottom point of a deeply curved, beak-like grille shell which gave it the look of a heart.

Brewster & Co. Coach Builders

Brewster & Co. was a legendary coach builder. There was a time in automobile history when the wealthy chose a coach builder to customize a coach for a chassis. The automaker Rolls Royce was an excellent example of this with their strong ties to Brewster & Company.

Like so many coach builders at the turn of the twentieth century, their business had been building carriages. The move from carriage builder to automobile body builder is not really a great leap. Most of the carriage builders at the very beginning were building both.

Brewster & Company claimed to have built their first automobile body as early as 1896 for a prototype electric car built by two New York City engineers.  It is likely that other Brewster bodies were built for early electric cars, but Brewster’s ledgers from that time record only the body style and the customer, as the automobile at that time was secondary to the company’s carriage business.

The first gasoline-powered chassis equipped with a Brewster body was built in 1905 for a customer named James H. Moore. The style of that body was a brougham.

William Brewster could see that the automobile would replace the horse rather soon and in 1910 which marked ten years for the firm moved into a new 420,000 sq. ft. 7-story factory just over the 59th Street/ Queensboro Bridge  in Long Island City, New York. A small number of horse carriages were built at the new factory, the facility was specifically designed for the manufacture of automobile bodies. Today, the building still stands and currently houses the New York City offices of Met Life, a large insurance company.

Rolls Royce and Brewster & Co.

With the integration of coach building with chassis operations, Rolls-Royce of America, Inc. was able to add its own in­novation in marketing. Twenty-eight standardized body styles were offered to the public at prices substantially less than custom body costs. Delivery time was reduced and some of these models could be purchased off the showroom floor.

brewster ford cars
Distinctive Brewster Ford Town Car grille

John S. Inskip was the president of Rolls-Royce of America when the company stopped manufacturing their U.S. built chassis in 1931. Inskip Brewster in business by offering new bodies for existing customers’ older cars. Nevertheless. the company went into receivership in 1934 and reorganized as the Springfield Manufacturing Co., with John Inskip again as it’s president. Rolls-Royce was now out of the picture, but Inskip kept Brewste a builder of custom bodies on less expensive chassis.

See additional Auto Museum Online articles found on the links below….

1934 Ford Model 40 Tudor Sedan

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1934 brewster fordBrewster Fords are True Classics

Brewster Fords are the only Ford V-8 based automobiles recognized as full classics by the Classic Car Club of America.

A 1934 Brewster Ford Town Car did sell at auction for about $47,000. A one off Brewster Ford that was built specifically for  Edsel Ford sold for just under $200,000. This model was different from other Brewster Fords with a standard Ford grille and Ford dash. These changes were requested by Edsel Ford. The automobile had been in storage for many years and was not restored at the time of sale.

Reference material for this article came from RM Sotheby’sAn Inkling of Brewster: Brewster and Company Automobiles and the Wealthy Who Owned Them by author Frank E. Wismer III….Rolls Royce in America by author John Webb De Campi.

(Photos and article copyright Auto Museum Online)