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Man drives Rolls-Royce for 78 years then makes museum donation to ensure its preservation

Posted Dec 27th 2012 9:13AM

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Mr. Allen Swift died in 2005 at the impressive age of 102, but his automotive story is even more remarkable. Not only is the gentleman credited with owning a Rolls-Royce automobile longer than anyone else in the world, but he had the forethought and funds to ensure its future preservation after his death.

In 1928, while living in Springfield, Massachusetts, Swift's father gave him a 1928 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly P1 Roadster as a graduation present (Springfield and Rolls-Royce have a history – from 1920 to 1931, the British automaker built 2,944 vehicles in the city as part of its attempt to establish a US plant). The young man was passionate about his green-over-green softtop convertible, not only driving it on a regular basis, but maintaining it meticulously over the decades (the two door-received a complete body-off restoration and engine rebuild in 1988).

Rolls-Royce acknowledged Mr. Swift in 1994, awarding him a crystal Spirit of Ecstasy award for his length of ownership. By 2005, Swift had logged more than 170,000 miles on its analog odometer and he was recognized as the oldest living person to have owned a car from new. He passed away that year.

But the story doesn't end there. Swift left the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History a $1 million gift to create a new exhibition to care for his roadster and tell the story of Rolls-Royce manufacturing in the Massachusetts town. Today, Mr. Swift's beautiful Piccadilly P1 Roadster is prominently displayed in the museum's Transportation Collection.


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