Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental 1933
Coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly, with FLM Panelcraft
Chassis no. 3MW
Engine no. FG 55
7,668cc OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Jet Rolls-Royce Carburetor
120bhp at 3,500rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes
*Originally ordered by Barbara Hutton for her husband Prince Mdivani
*Extravagant and attractive 3 position coachwork
*Same owner for past 40 years
*Offered with tools and extensive history file
*One of the most historically important Phantom II Continentals
THE PHANTOM II CONTINENTAL
Rolls-Royce's "single model" policy had proved an outstanding success for the company. The Phantom II was having excellent sales figures, however Sir Henry Royce envisioned a more sporting model. He had at his side the able young development engineer Ivan Evernden who was a key player in the Phantom II Continental and went on to design its post war successor, the R-Type Continental Bentley.
During the development of the Phantom II, the majority of the long-distance testing was carried out on the long straight roads surrounding Chateauroux in France. Sir Henry Royce's many journeys between the South of England and the South of France no doubt opened his eyes to the type of motoring not available upon England's narrow and winding roads. With long distance high-speed motoring in mind, the Phantom II Continental chassis was created, the project being personally overseen by this legendary duo.
The whole car was conceived by Royce to be a more sporting and compact four-seater owner/driver motor car when compared to the long wheelbase standard Phantom II. Just 281 such chassis were produced and they differentiated themselves from their standard cousins with thicker 5 leaf springs, a six inch shorter chassis, specifically 144 inches, and the provision of recessed rear footwells and lower rear seating. The engine was tuned with a high compression cylinder head and high lift camshaft. Power on the open road was enhanced by an exhaust cutout with switch fitted on the driver's side floorboard. With lightweight coachwork being fitted, the final result was a motor car capable of carrying four people in comfort at high speeds over great distances.
The Continental is rightly considered by many to be one of the finest pre-war Rolls-Royces. The majority of Phantom II Continentals were fitted with close-coupled four-door closed coachwork. However, a small number were fitted with more stylish designs. Most possessed exquisite elegance, but none arguably more than the car presented here.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
This Phantom II Continental story begins with the one of the most intriguing women of the 20th century, Barbara Hutton, heiress of the Woolworth family fortune. Barbara met the dashing young Prince Alexis Mdivani, in 1932. Prince Mdivani was living in exile in Paris, having fled his native Georgia after the Soviet invasion in 1921. Barbara was very taken by the Prince, and they were soon engaged. In celebration of their engagement Barbara commissioned a very special Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental for her new husband to be.
As the pages show, this is one of the most lavish and elegant Phantom II Continentals ever built. The body was commissioned from Thrupp and Maberly and was in the popular 3 position drop-head style. The dashboard was designed by Barbara and Prince Mdivani. The Prince, being a trained pilot, tailored a dashboard that was very much aircraft-inspired, including specially ordered large gauge tachometer, rev-counter, and even an altimeter. These gauges were mounted in an aluminum engine-turned dashboard and interior was also trimmed in engine turned aluminum rather than the usual wood veneers. The car's already long bonnet was extended by a further 4 inches, a format which it is thought was beyond that of any others built. Along with this extended bonnet, Prince Mdivani requested that the bonnet louvers be angled at 13.5 degrees. Andre Tele-controls were also ordered so that the suspension could be stiffened up for high speed running.
It is suspected that the Phantom II went with the Prince and Barbara on phases of their extravagant honeymoon. Unfortunately, for the Prince, his marriage to Barbara was not meant to last and after a disagreement they divorced. He was on holiday in Spain with the car a month later and was taking a German Countess to the train station. An eyewitness to the events that followed, stated that a shirtless man thundered by him at over 80mph. Unfortunately, the Prince lost control of the car, and was killed in an ensuing crash. After this incident, it is understood that the car was sent back to Rolls-Royce and Thrupp and Maberly for a complete rebuild at the Rolls-Royce Works before passing to its next owner.
In 1951 the Phantom II was motoring on the streets of London, when it caught the eye of a young American enthusiast. He was very taken by the car's devastatingly good looks and vowed to one day own it. Twenty years later he had his chance and he bought 3MW from De Ville Carriage Company Ltd. Today, as evidenced, there are FLM Panelcraft kicker plates in addition to the Thrupp ones and it seems likely that this post-war coachbuilding entity were responsible for a restoration prior to his acquisition. The car sailed home to the United States with the current owner on the Cunard Liner QE2 in 1972. Since arriving in the US, the car has gone on many long-distance driving tours. It has been meticulously maintained in the consigners private collection. Four years ago, noted Rolls-Royce specialist, The Vintage Garage carried out a major service on the car. This work is fully documented in the car's history file.
The vehicle was recently inspected by a Bonhams Specialist and proved to be incredibly interesting. It is a delightful older restoration in good order, and it would appear that many of the original custom features that were likely ordered with the car, such as its Cromos bumper and Sireno horn. It has an imposingly elegant yet uniquely dashing appearance.
Many large prewar cars have distinct limitations when it comes to steering, braking and performance, which make their usage on modern roads somewhat problematic. This is clearly not true of the Phantom II Continental. Sustained cruising speeds over 70 miles per hour were indeed endorsed by the factory, and were much on the mind of its first owner. The view down the elongated bonnet, above the big dials and glinting aluminum of the dashboard make for a unique driving and show experience, which has stood the passage of time, bringing to mind an era of elegance and 'joie de vivre' of the French Riviera, and its Mediterranean coast.
Of all 281 of these cars built, collectors will prize this one and it will give pleasure to many on the most prestigious tours and Concours fields worldwide.
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