1934 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM II CONTINENTAL DROPHEAD COUPE
COACHWORK BY CARLTON CARRIAGE CO.
Chassis No. 127 RY
Engine No. QW 15
Black with black leather interior
Engine: six cylinder in-line, 7,668cc, 130bhp at 3,100rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual, synchromesh on 3rd and 4th; Suspension: solid axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear; Brakes: four wheel drum, mechanical servo. Right hand drive.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom II is considered by many authorities of pre-war Rolls-Royces to be one of the best models the manufacturer ever built. It had the classic lines that said 'luxury' and 'performance' all in one. The Phantom II was made from 1929 to 1935, during which time some 1,767 were produced. It was the last of the Big Six models and is considered the finest achievement of the master, Sir F. H. Royce. The engine actually grew out of the six cylinder used in the Phantom I, but was improved with an aluminum cylinder head and revised manifolding. In the Phantom II, the cantilever springs of the Phantom I were replaced by supple half-elliptic rear springs. The chassis was lower and so in turn was the center of gravity; weight was reduced and the steering much improved. The Phantom II also boasted centralized chassis lubrication and twin ignition systems (one by coil and battery, the other by magneto, firing six plugs each). At the end of 1932 a new improved gearbox was introduced.
In 1931 the sporting version of the Phantom II arrived, the Continental, and was to become one of the motoring legends of the thirties. Based on the short 144 inch chassis and with a 5.25:1 compression and a higher axle ratio, a genuine 100mph was possible. It was very much for the owner/driver who considered himself an enthusiast. The majestic Rolls-Royce radiator and low drivetrain provided a superb platform for elegant coachwork and inspired some of the best proportioned and beautiful designs of the era.
This example, chassis 127 RY, carries supremely elegant Drophead Coupe coachwork by Carlton on the Continental chassis. Special features include a low windshield, flush fitting top, raked bonnet louvres and razor edged wings. Just five cars were originally made with this body style, and only this model remains. According to the factory records, it was despatched in June 1934 to the Hon. H. L. Parker of 73 St. James's Street, London S.W.1. (H. L. Parker later became the Lord Chief Justice of England). The next recorded change of ownership was in 1957 when the car passed to Peter Simnett also of London, who in turn sold the car to Mr. Elwood Hansen of Hillsborough, California. The car then passed in 1964 to the current owner's family, who were at that time based in San Francisco.
This car received a full body-off nut and bolt restoration completed in 1979 and then went on the show circuit. Affectionately known as The Black Beauty, its deserved results included a Classic Car Club of America First Prize Winner and Best of Show at a Rolls-Royce National Meet, but its crowning glory was a first place win at Pebble Beach in 1976. Wherever shown and eligible it took prizes including 26 Best of Class and 10 Second in Class awards, a Best Restored Car and 5 Best of Shows. The car became quite famous and The Story of the Black Beauty was written and published by the owner and chronicles the restoration of the car and its history. After the restoration, the present owner took the car to England to partake in the Silver Jubilee in 1977 and then on an extensive 5,000 mile tour of the continent. The car was also briefly reunited with its first owner, the Hon. H. L. Parker. For many years this car was looked after by the renowned Rolls-Royce specialist Herb Westoff.
While the restoration has mellowed a little in recent years, this car still has an amazing presence and style. The paintwork is highly presentable, but now shows its age on close inspection. It is offset by subtle gold pinstriping and chrome wire wheels, radiator, lights and horns. The black leather upholstery has a wonderful patina of use. In the trunk there is a full set of tools. The undercarriage is extremely clean and presentable, as is the engine bay which includes a rare brass bulb cannister.
Just 280 Phantom II Continentals were built, thereby instantly ensuring they remain both rare and desirable. This example is extremely attractive and captures all of the elegance of the thirties; it also has the added benefit of coachwork by Carlton, one of the most respected of the coachbuilders (and the car is arguably as attractive as any of the highly regarded designs of its contemporary Gurney Nutting). With the benefit of its disappearing top and excellent provenance, it will surely make a fine addition to any motoring stable.
A photograph of this vehicle appears in the Dalton Watson book Coachwork on Rolls-Royce Cars and a wealth of memorabilia, including of course the book, will accompany this lot.