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H.F. Holbrook-Henry Brewster Corporation, 1927-1928; Bridgeport, Connecticut
Associated Builders
Holbrook Co.; Brewster & Co.

Henry Brewster III, a member of New England’s Brewster coachbuilding family, was born on April 30, 1891 in Paris, Île-de-France, France to Henry Draper and Elise (Mayer) Brewster. His grandfather Henry and great uncle James B. Brewster were the sons of James Brewster, the founder of the world’s most famous coachbuilding family. For close to 200 years, the Brewster name has been associated with the finest carriages and automobile bodies that money could buy. There were over a half-dozen different firms with Brewster in their title, and they were all related in one way or another to James Brewster, a Connecticut native whose roots went deep into American history.

Our subject’s uncle, William Brewster, headed Brewster & Co. during the teens and twenties and taught his nephew the family business. In 1925 Henry Brewster III took a position as designer with Charles Schutte, a highly-regarded automobile body builder who operated a Manhattan branch at West End Ave. and a manufacturing plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In 1927 Brewster and Harry F. Holbrook, the founder and former owner of Holbrook Co., announced the formation of the H. F. Holbrook-Henry Brewster Corporation. The new firm would produce high-end cus­tom bodies in the former Blue Ribbon Body Co. plant located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Holbrook served as the firm’s salesman while Brewster, who had some experience in the business, served as designer and body engineer. They built a striking Mercedes-Benz Town Car that appeared on the Mercedes-Benz stand at that fall’s New York Auto Salon and are also known to have bodied a Bugatti.

Both the Holbrook Co. and Brewster & Co. strongly objected to the new firm’s presence at the Salon as they felt it created unnecessary confusion with their existing clients. An illustration of a "Holbrook-Brewster" Mercedes-Benz All-Weather Cabriolet appeared in the November 1927 issue of Spur magazine (an equestrian magazine published by Country Life). It was a beautiful vehicle was painted black and yellow and featured a buffed aluminum hood with tan broadcloth upholstery. 1927 was not the best time to be entering the coachbuilding business (see Waterhouse & Co.) and the new firm failed to attract enough orders to stay solvent. Only 8-10 custom bodies emerged from the Bridgeport plant in their first year although they had some success with their well-built funeral coaches. By the end of 1928, the H.F. Holbrook-Henry Brewster Corp. had closed its doors for good.

The 1930 US census lists him in Bridgeport, Conn., his occupation, designer for a motor co. It also notes a substantial age discrepancy between Henry (38yo) and his wife Rose Bomberger (60yo) Brewster. His listings in the Bridgeport directories (at 344 Brewster St.) give his occupation as designer for automobile co. and consulting engineer. The 1940 US Census lists him in Allentown, Pa. as a draftsman for a Truck Corp. (Mack) – his wife Rose remains listed in Bridgeport at the time.

Brewster passed away on September 2, 1943.

Many years later coachbuilding authority Hugo Pfau asked Holbrook about the Brewster partnership and his activities during the First World War. Holbrook replied that he had gone back to England, his native country, to serve with the Royal Air Force during the war. The Brewster partnership was still fresh in his mind and he wouldn’t elaborate on the details.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






Hugo Pfau - Holbrook & Company - Cars & Parts August 1972

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