The second Phantom II Continental buil, ex-Capt. Jack Kruse, Margaret Jennings 1933 Monte Carlo Rally
1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sportsman's Coupe
Coachwork by Barker
Registration no. GN2201
Chassis no. 42 GX
Engine no. DH 95
Body No. 6560
The Phantom II Continental
Reputedly the last model Henry Royce designed himself the Phantom II was introduced in 1929 as a successor to the New Phantom. Following Royces keen interest in a more sporting version, as evidenced from the Experimental Phantoms (see Lot 357) and designed around the short (144) Phantom II chassis a Continental version arrived in 1930. As the name suggested it was conceived as an enthusiastic owner drivers car intended for fast touring abroad, and featured revised rear suspension, higher axle ratio and lowered steering column. Highly favored by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day its new low-slung frame, enhanced engine performance and set back radiator lending itself well to coachbuilders art.
By the end of production the magnificent Phantom II Continental was good for 95mph. Powerful, docile, delightfully easy to control and a thoroughbred, it behaves in a manner which is difficult to convey without seeming to over-praise, opined The Motor after testing a PII Continental in March 1934.
The growing interest in closed and streamlined cars of the Thirties meant that the lions share of coachwork on these chassis was devoted to sporting saloons, as fashion moved away from long open tourers of the 1920s. Coachbuilders adapted to this, and began to produce a more convertible dual purpose body, this car being one such example of that transitional era.
Captain Jack Frederick Conrad Kruse
For those unfamiliar with the name it is particularly pertinent when considering the importance of this Phantom II Continental to elaborate on Capt. Krusess motoring interests.
Born the eldest son of a banker, Jack Kruse was the ultimate motoring sportsman of the Roaring Twenties. His life story, chronicled by Tom Clarke in The Flying Lady in 2001/2 portrays him as a cross between a character from Jeeves and Wooster novel and James Bond! He survived the trenches of the Peninsula Campaign and even his ship being torpedoed on his way home, to be demobilized with the rank of Captain and to go on to found successful businesses in Amsterdam and London. His constant traveling caused him to separate from his first wife only to meet his second, a widow and hotel chain heiress, Annabel Wilson, during one of many trips to America in the early 1920s. By the latter part of the decade they were firmly established in the British society elite and owned Sunning House in the middle of Sunningdale Womens Golf Course, where 22 staff including 3 chauffeurs attended their every need.
Capt. Kruse had a vociferous appetite for fast and elegant cars and from the early 1920s developed a particular passion for Rolls-Royce, while among his close friends he could count Frank L. Manning Showroom manager for Barker & Co. who were responsible for many of the bodies on his cars, and his close motoring associations brought him into contact with Amherst Villiers. In 1928 Kruse gave Villiers carte blanche to rework his Phantom 1 Barker Tourer 31 HC. This followed on from Villiers work on the supercharged Vauxhall, and preceded his liaison with Henry Tim Birkin on the Blower Bentleys. A familiar sight in marque histories for its novelty it used a completely separate engine mounted on the side of the chassis to drive the supercharger. This extraordinary project absorbed two years of Villiers time, and is rumored to have cost Kruse somewhere between £10-16,000 enough to have bought him 5 standard Phantoms! But it hardly seems to have impressed him as he once simply referred to the car as the first, and last, supercharged Rolls-Royce.
Always in search of the best mount for competitive events, he sparred in the motoring press with those that favored particular marques baiting the Bentley Boys on a number of occasions, despite the fact that photographs from the Twenties show his stables replete with numerous cars, including two 6½ Liters and a 4½ Liter Bentley. They also show braces of supercharged Mercedes, of Bugattis and of Alfas as well as a low chassis Invicta and countless Rolls-Royce, including the sister streamlined Phantom I to the car we offer elsewhere in the sale today, 16 EX.
Without doubt he was a character, his interests and the connections he used to ensure that he was ahead of the rest must be testament to the arm-twisting, favoritism and attention to detail that he would have used to build this car.
On an extremely rare day when Bonhams & Butterfields is privileged to offer the sister experimental works Rolls-Royce to Kruses own car, it is ultimately fitting that this car which can be considered to be linked to the next development of Royces Phantom is offered alongside that car. It is hearsay perhaps, but save for Royces failing health in the late 1920s, the prototype Phantom II Continental, the famed 26EX might well have sported the open coachwork that one sees on 42GX today.
When Sir Henry Royce decided that he wanted a sporting version of the Phantom II for his personal use, his designer H.I.F. Evernden was charged with penning designs loosely based on the Riley 9. Today these drawings, one a drophead coupe and the other a sports saloon reside in the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club in the U.K. At the time Evernden wrote that Nurse Aubin had vetoed the drophead on the grounds of Sir Henrys health, so 26 EX was built as a saloon by Barkers.
The drophead coupe design might have gone unused, but it seems that the ever watchful Kruse as one of Rolls and Barkers best customers of the day, was able to convince the coachbuilder to construct it for him on this chassis, which ties its date as the second earliest Continental to have been built.
The factory records say it all This chassis to be absolutely as fast as it is possible to make it, its exacting specification states that it should be identical to 26 EX with untarnishable finish brightwork, louvred hood, speedometer in miles and kilometers, friction shock absorbers, twin rear spares etc. Further, it a supplementary fuel tank fitted in the frame and the gear lever was required to be 3 longer than standard.
Barkers received the chassis on December 12th 1930, it was then as today supremely elegant from the lightweight clam-shell front fenders that gave more than a nod to those of the Experimental P1 cars, to the compact, close coupled seating, fully folding top and twin rear trunks and spares tires.
Perhaps surprisingly, but certainly in keeping with his rapid changing of cars, Capt. Kruse kept the car no more than 6 months, before it passed to R.H.W. Jaques of Easby Abbey, York and Down Street, Piccadilly. It is known that Jaques was an active motor sports man, and this would no doubt have been a fitting choice for him given its performance.
Jaques entered the car on the 1932 RAC 1000 miles rally and the following year enlisted the aid of Margaret Allen (later Jennings) to contest the Monte Carlo Rally. Allen was one of the best known and successful lady drivers and one of only four women to hold a 120 mph Brooklands badge, so this must have seemed a strong combination!
Hardly the most likely entry, they held their own to come 30th of the 71 entrants that year and look suitably pleased when photographed on the quay at Monte Carlo, as illustrated.
It is believed that Jaques retained the car until his death, as the next known owner recorded is Thomas Neale in 1950. Just two other custodians have held the car, until it arrived in the present family 16 years ago, who had long admired its lines from publications such as George Olivers Profile on the Phantom II to the Dalton and Watch book Coachwork on Rolls-Royce.
Shortly after acquisition a comprehensive rebuild was begun by its enthusiast owner, at that time the speedometer read some 83,000 miles, which given the limited wear to the original pistons that it was still using is thought to have been a genuine indication of its mileage.
The car was stripped down to the bare chassis frame. The engine blocks were retubed, and re-bored then fitted with new, old stock pistons. The crankshaft was lightly re-ground despite its limited wear and the bearings had new white metal throughout. A Wuesthoff camshaft and followers were fitted, and all ball bearings replaced. Coldwell Engineering assisted with regrinding the damper. The cylinder head, which appeared to have been a relatively new but correct replacement part, was retained. No work was required to the gearbox, but the rear axle was fitted with a 3.09 to 1 crown wheel and pinion by Hoffmans of Henley and with all new bearings, which makes good long distance covering. The radiator was recored, the car entirely rewired in correct pattern and color cable and within the original conduits. For modern road safety flashers and brake lights were added.
During the rebuild, the exceptional quality of the Barker coachwork resounded throughout, with lots of sheet steel reinforcing its structure. The result of which was that absolutely none of the woodwork had to be replaced, save for the panel beneath its compact trunks. The leather was matched to the original color and grain and retrimmed exactly to the original pattern, while the owner opted to lighten its original all-black livery to a two tone dark Brewster green and black.
On a Summers day in England, the writer had the chance to take the wheel of this beautiful sporting Phantom and can wholeheartedly attest to its performance, comfort and grace which would make it an ideal long-distance car for tours as much as for concours entry.
Never publicly offered for sale before, 42 GX represents an immense opportunity to own an open sporting Phantom, that was owned new by one of the truly unique sportsman of his day, that was literally designed with performance in mind, campaigned in rallies in period and has already proven successful at major concours level in the U.K. It is featured in numerous publications, and retains a comprehensive file of references to Kruse, the marque and model, as well as some photographs and bills for the rebuild and even its original numbered handbook.
The Continental is as appreciated by collectors today as it was when new, this extremely special, highly authentic Phantom II Continental drophead, which has benefited from a sympathetic and exacting rebuild, must be one of the best.
- Please note, this lot is applicable to an import duty calculated at 2.5% of the hammer price. This duty will be invoiced to the purchaser but may be refunded if the lot is exported within certain criteria.