Brewster automobiles

Brewster produced a unique two-piece filding windshield

1920 Brewster Town car

Most bodies were ordered to fit customers' imported chassis. Once Europe went to war in the summer of 1914 supplies were at risk.

Brewster began to build its own cars after the 1915 sinking of the British liner Lusitania and continued until 1925. Though smaller than their usual chassis — for navigating the streets of Manhattan — they cost as much as "a Packard Twin Six limousine plus a fleet of five Model T Ford roadsters.

" Brewster's own cars were easily recognizable by their oval radiators and shiny patent-leather fenders. They were powered by four-cylinder sleeve valve Knight engines and often fitted with Brewster's unique two-piece folding windshield.

The 1934 Brewster Town Car rode on a Ford V8 chassis

By the time of the Great Depression which began at the end of 1929 there was strong sentiment against the wealthy and their archetypal Brewster-bodied Rolls-Royces and Brewster's bodies were not selling well.

In 1934 sales chief, J.S. Inskip, who had taken control of operations in the hope of saving Brewster bought 135 Ford V8 roadster chassis for model year 1934 and designed a body for them easily identified by its swoopy fenders and a heart-shaped grille.

Stylish and sold for US$3,500 ($67,710 in 2020 dollars) it was a hit at the 1934 New York Auto Show. The bodies were worth more than the chassis. These cars were branded Brewster and sold at Rolls-Royce showrooms.

Inskip marketed the cars to New York celebrities (see Notable Owners), with whom it became popular. Rolls-Royce Limited under English management strongly objected to coachwork being installed on Ford chassis, which lead to Rolls-Royce of America, Inc. changing their name to Springfield Manufacturing Corporation and renegotiated its contract with the British firm to continue importing British-made products into America.

The Lincoln K series chassis installed with a V12 for 1934 did list the Brewster Non Collapsible Cabriolet with a 145" wheelbase but the coachwork choice did not continue for 1935.[5]

The Ford Brewster project was initially profitable but soon Brewster was taking losses and its bondholders and directors insisted on closing down the firm. Bankruptcy proceedings were instituted in July 1935, and was purchased by Dallas E. Winslow.


Brewster & Co. presented the following carriage configurations at the Exposition Universelle (1878) in Paris: Brougham, Lady's Brougham, Cabriolet, Landau, Racing Sulky, Road Wagon, Park Drag, American Trotting Phaeton, Lady's Phaeton, T-Cart, Two-Wheeler, a double-suspension Victoria, and a Whitechapel Wagon.

Brewster won the Gold Award, the highest honor. His was the only American firm to win such at the Exposition. Henry was even personally awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of France, while his employees received honors as well.

Brewster received many more honors at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (aka Columbian Exposition, marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus sailing to the New World.)

"You're the top! You're a Ritz hot toddy. You're the top! You're a Brewster body." The coachbuilder was immortalized in the Cole Porter song, "You're the Top".

The manager of New York's National Horse Show, Edward King, was once asked whether he considered Brewster to be the Tiffany of carriage manufacturers: "My opinion is that Tiffany was the Brewster of jewelers." (indeed Tiffany was the younger company.)


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