1933 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom II Continental Sedanca Coupe Coachwork by Barker & Co., (Coachbuilders),Ltd. Registration no. AGN 345 Chassis no. 69MW Engine no. XO75
69MW, as the R-R Enthusiasts Club would refer to the car, has been a superlative possession. It had covered 59,000 miles when we took her over: now the clock reads 220,000. It has travelled the Continent, done the shopping, towed racing cars, won prizes in Concours dElegance, won its class in a speed trial on the Carriogrohane Straight in Munster and whispered its way round the West End of London. Impeccable in all things.
That is how Kenneth Neve, engineer and Past President of the Vintage Sports-Car Club, described ownership of 69MW in his excellent book, A Bit Behind the Times, published in 1988. His enjoyment of this magnificent car continued until his death in the 1990s, man and machine clearly having remained in perfect harmony to the last.
69MWs history began however on 15th June 1933 when it was on test with Rolls-Royce, destined for delivery by Barker & Co.Ltd to their esteemed customer, Capt. Thomas Lee Hardy of Lloyds Bank in Pall Mall, London. Captain Hardy was a polo player of some repute, mixed in distinguished company and his selection of Barkers to construct the coachwork was an impeccable choice as he required a car that would reflect his sporting prowess and yet command respect amongst his senior banking colleagues. He was particular in the detail of his order, specifying, amongst other things, bonnet louvres running into the bulkhead at an angle of 16 degrees, and of course his model choice was the top-of-the range short chassis Continental. 69MW clearly proved impeccable in all things to the Captain as it remained in his possession through the war years, passing in 1952 to the aforementioned Kenneth Neve of Stretton in Cheshire. Far from the West End of London, 69MW must have cut a dash in rural Cheshire, despite its vintage years, and was destined for extensive further mileage in its new engineer-owners hands.
Following the death of Kenneth Neve the car was loaned to renowned test pilot, Peter Henley, finding itself once again in sympathetic hands, and a detailed log, (as one would expect from a test pilot), was maintained recording his use of the car and maintenance/repair schedules during that custodianship. It is clear that the highest standards were required of 69MW and no expense was spared in maintaining the car to appropriate levels.
69MW was acquired by the present owner , by coincidence also a previous owner of Neves London-Edinburgh Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 1701, in 1999, joining a stable of exceptional Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars, all fastidiously maintained and prepared for the most demanding journeys. 69MW was immediately entrusted to Classic Restorations of Scotland to ensure that it met the same criteria, each aspect of mechanical condition being scrutinised in the course of the restoration and repaired or replaced to meet the new owners demanding standards. The opportunity was taken during this restoration to equip 69MW with overdrive and power steering, enhancing still further the driving experience. Records of this detailed restoration are on file.
At the same time time coachwork and cosmetic presentation were addressed to ensure that, as in Kenneth Neves ownership, 69MW would be a certain winner on the concours delegance lawns. Coachwork was refinished in green livery, seats were reupholstered in best quality leather, carpets replaced, woodwork re-polished and all brightwork refurbished to the highest standards. Ace-type wheel discs were sourced and fitted, enhancing further the commanding presence of Barkers superlative sedanca coupe.
There is little doubt that amongst Continental Phantoms 69MW stands head and shoulders above most in the elegance stakes and is equipped in every way for the Continental tour. Driving equipment includes Lucas lighting and alto horns, centre driving light and Marchal spotlights with drivers pillar-mounted spotlight and rear mounted spares, along with bumpers front and rear and fishtail exhaust. A luggage carrier is provided for the longer trip and matching GB plates fitted, while a full complement of tools is carried under-bonnet.
69MW is one of those rare cars that exudes elegance and quality from every angle, more importantly the Continental model offering performance equalled by very few of its peer group, being arguably the fastest British production car of its era - in short, as Kenneth Neve so succinctly put it, a superlative possession.
69MW comes with a good history file, restoration records, copy factory order and build sheets, copy of the original Barker & Co. order and specification sheet, Swansea registration document and old style logbook and is of course MOT tested and licensed, ready for just its fourth owner in 73 years.