1937 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM III SPORTS SEDANCA DE VILLE
COACHWORK BY GURNEY NUTTING
Chassis no. 3 AZ 168
Engine no. P 94 K
Charcoal grey with red leather interior.
Engine: V12, pushrod overhead valves, 7338cc; Gearbox: manual four speed, synchromesh on top three ratios; Suspension: independent front, rear live axle with half elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: servo-assisted hydraulically operated four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
As the troubled 1930's progressed, competition in the prestige car market grew tougher every season, with luxury automobile makers in America and Europe frantically bringing out ever more magnificent machines in the face of a dwindling market. Six cylinders gave way to eight, to twelve cylinders, even to sixteen. For years Rolls-Royce held out against the trend, preferring instead to improve and refine their respected straight-six Phantoms. Inevitably the company found it had to follow the market, building ever more impressive cars capable of travelling at ever greater speeds. The result was the Phantom III V12, installed in a meticulously engineered and rigid new chassis with coil spring independent front suspension.
As had always been the practice, Rolls-Royce produced only the motorised chassis, sending it after searching road tests to one of the multitude of highly skilled coachbuilders who were considered capable of producing coachwork that would do justice both to the automobile itself and the desires of the customer. In general, the Phantom III was intended to carry formal coachwork. The company's clientele was distinguished, generally quite conservative in taste. But others were more adventurous, and it was for them that Gurney Nutting created this strikingly elegant sports sedanca de ville, influenced by a style first evolved in Paris by Fernandez and Darrin. As interpreted by Gurney Nutting's brilliant A.F. McNeill, detailing is supremely self-confident, particulary execution of the sedanca top with the siderails folding into the roof, leaving a neat front.
This massively handsome Phantom III left Gurney Nutting's premises at the end of December 1936 and was delivered to Sir H. Smith Bt., of Witley Court, Worcester on January 9th 1937. In 1944 it went to a second noble owner, Sir Derek Craven of Westminster. Before 1950 there were two further owners and it was at Rolls-Royce's London depot for inspection. Its subsequent history until it arrived in the Dsteler collection remains to be researched, but the car has clearly been cared for. After careful recommissioning it should provide many more years of pleasure to its new owner and those who encounter it.