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Lot 454: 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Pillarless Saloon

Fine Motor Cars and the Jaguar Legend, Coys (14 July 2007)

Although the Rolls-Royce Phantom II was without doubt an outstanding automobile, by the early Thirties its six cylinder prowess was being challenged by multi-cylinder cars such as the V12 Hispano Suiza and V16 Cadillac. It was thus that Rolls-Royce introduced the all new Phantom III in late 1935. Visually, it was distinguishable from the Phantom II in having its radiator mounted forward rather than above the front axle, but beneath the differences were manifold. At its heart was a superb new and complex, overhead valve V12 alloy engine, of 7,338cc, with cast-iron liners, seven main bearings, hydraulic tappets, triple pressure lubrication system and twin coil ignition. Technically advanced and highly refined, it produced 165bhp at 3,000rpm with such ample torque that it was hardly necessary to use the four speed gearbox. The new and immensely strong, box section chassis - with eight inch shorter wheelbase than the Phantom II and with built-in hydraulic jacks - also featured independent front suspension using coil springs immersed in an oil bath, while at the rear there were semi-elliptic leaf springs and an anti-roll bar. The combination provided an unequalled level of road-holding and ride comfort for such a large luxury car, once again putting Rolls-Royce ahead of its few competitors. Coachwork, as always, came from a variety of specialist builders, ranging from saloons and sedancas to the rarer coupés and even two-seater tourers; indeed, the forward-mounted radiator allowed more creative styling than the Phantom II, and the Phantom III can boast some of the most elegant and luxurious of coachwork. But whatever style was chosen, the silken V12 engine provided very impressive acceleration for such a heavy car - a rolling chassis alone weighed 4,050lb, yet it could achieve 0-60mph in just 16 seconds - allied to a 95mph plus top speed and easy 80mph cruising. After overdrive was fitted from late 1938/early 1939 it could comfortably exceed 100mph. The Phantom III which, without doubt, represents the peak of pre-war Rolls-Royce engineering, ceased production in 1939 with just 710 examples built.Originally built to the order of a French general, this Rolls-Royce with its unique pillar-less, sports saloon body by famed Parisian coachbuilder Binder - also responsible for the coachwork of the legendary Bugatti Royales - caused quite a stir when shown at the French capital's 1936 Motor Salon. Using an ash frame and stronger steel body panels rather than the more usual aluminium, in deference to the pillar-less design, the strikingly handsome sports saloon was finished in gleaming black; a picture of the car at the Paris Salon appears in Lawrence Dalton's The Derby Phantoms.With the advent of World War Two, however, and following his death, the General's wife stored the Phantom on a farm near Paris before it was wisely hidden from the looting Nazi soldiers. Subsequently it was shipped by an American serviceman to the USA where it passed through several owners before residing in a Chicago scrap yard. Dismantled and in dire need of restoration, it was repatriated to Great Britain by the Wales-based Real Car Co. in 1990 and sold to Classic Restorations (Scotland) Ltd of Perthshire, who in turn sold the Rolls-Royce to an Aberdeen businessman for £30,000. He then had the car restored to the highest of standards, including full engine and mechanical rebuilds, during the mid-1990s, by Classic Restorations. When completed in 1997 - after which the car promptly won First Prize at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club's International Rally - this thorough restoration had cost in the region of £80,000; an amount which then became the subject of a legal battle, ultimately settled out of court, and coverage of which appeared in The Mail on Sunday in April 2003 and The Daily Mail in June the following year. It was around this time that the car was purchased by an Edinburgh businessman.Finished in lustrous Rolls-Royce Midnight Blue with Ivory side panels, beautifully complimented inside by blue Connolly leather seating and trim and beige Wilton carpets, this stunning Phantom III is offered in superb condition. This is a one-off opportunity to acquire and striking and unique Rolls-Royce, and it is without doubt a car for the true connoisseur of Great Britain's most famous and revered marque.

Lot Details
Auction Fine Motor Cars and the Jaguar Legend
Coys, Blenheim Palace, UK
TypeCar
Lot Number454
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£98985
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1932
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors