17 May 1999
1930 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM II CABRIOLET DE VILLE
COACHWORK BY FERDINAND KEIBLE
Chassis no. 38 GY
Engine no. UP 85
Red and burgundy with black wings and tan leather and beige cloth interior.
Engine: six cylinders, pushrod overhead valves, 7668cc, Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: semi elliptic springs to beam front, live rear axle; Brakes: four wheel drum with mechanical servo. Right hand drive.
Throughout the first thirty years of the company's history the instinct of those who controlled the engineering destiny of Rolls-Royce was for evolution, rather than revolution. Their majestic six-cylinder 40/50 range evolved from the long-lived Silver Ghost. The Phantom I was a new engine in essentially the Silver Ghost's Chassis, the Phantom II had a developed version of that same pushrod overhead unit, intended to provide a smooth surge of power and flexibility, in what was in essence a larger-scale version of the Twenty chassis introduced some years before. Since this was Rolls-Royce, there were of course a myriad of major and minor improvements. Suspension, for instance, although using entirely conventional half elliptics all round, was underslung at the rear to the benefit of stability and the engine was for the first time in unit with the gearbox. There was also an elaborate and thoughtfully metered one-shot lubrication system to every item on the chassis. With similarly considered attention to detail in the steering, the end result was a car that belied its bulk, being nimble, accelerative, even with weighty formal coachwork, up to its 90 mph maximum.
Ordered by Dr G Wettstein of Zurich, this Phantom II chassis was first despatched by LMS train and the SS Hirondelle from London Docks to Antwerp in June 1930 and then on to Ferdinand Keible of Vienna, where it was fitted with its present cabriolet de ville coachwork. Special items ordered included continental headlamp brackets and a French name plate. The wonderfully well balanced sedanca de ville with landaulette head abounds with thoughtful detail that would have delighted the original owner and intrigues even today. Marchal headlamps are a highly prized fitting and the unique sidelamps on their short binnacles were clearly provided to improve the driver's judgement. A Copex Swiss trunk is provided. In 1936 Dr Wettstein sold his Phantom and it returned to an owner in Rotherham, Lancashire before returning to Switzerland. Although the Phantom was in use last year its engine condition is unknown. The sedanca has been a museum exhibit for many years and would repay careful recommissioning. The car is Swiss registered.
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