1933 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom II Continental Sports Saloon Coachwork by Vanden Plas Registration no. OT 3 Chassis no. 36PY Engine no. MA25
The Phantom II was introduced in 1929 as a successor to the New Phantom (retrospectively Phantom I) with deliveries commencing in September of that year. Unlike its predecessor, which inherited its underpinnings from the preceding 40/50hp model, the Silver Ghost, the Phantom II employed an entirely new chassis laid out along the lines of that of the smaller 20hp Rolls-Royce. Built in two wheelbase lengths - 144 and 150 - this new low-slung frame, with its radiator set well back, enabled coachbuilders to body the car in the modern idiom, creating sleeker designs than the upright ones of the past. The engine too had come in for extensive revision. The PIs cylinder dimensions and basic layout - two blocks of three cylinders, with an aluminium cylinder head common to both blocks - were retained, but the combustion chambers had been redesigned and the head was now of the cross-flow type, with inlet and exhaust manifolds on opposite sides. The magneto/coil dual ignition system remained the same as on the PI. The result of these engine changes was greatly enhanced performance, particularly of the Continental model, and the ability to accommodate weightier coachwork. Designed around the short (144) Phantom II chassis and introduced in 1930, the Continental was conceived as an enthusiastic owner drivers car and featured revised rear suspension, higher axle ratio and lowered steering column. 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. Highly favoured by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day and this Continental model wears handsome sports saloon coachwork (Design No. 971) by the respected London-based coachbuilder Vanden Plas. The latter had forged its not inconsiderable reputation by a most fortuitous alliance with Bentley, bodying some 700-or-so of the latters chassis during the 1920s, including the Le Mans team cars. Off test on 19th September 1933, chassis number 36PY was delivered to Major A H Wilkie in Hampshire via R F Fuggle Ltd. In 1953 the car was owned by a Russell Cook in the UK and later in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) where it was acquired in 1957 by Norman G Wright, the manager of a coppery refinery at Ndola, who owned it until 1966. While in Mr Wrights ownership the Phantom (locally registered K 6395) undertook a particularly memorable journey, travelling from Ndola to Johannesburg, South Africa where it had been entered in the 6th National Veteran & Vintage Car Rally. Undertaken in 1959, the trip involved a 1,250-mile drive to the Rally, 600 miles on the actual event and then another 1,250 miles home, all in temperatures of 100-135 degrees Fahrenheit. Mr Wrights reward for his efforts was outright victory in the Rally as well as 1st in Class and many other awards. In 1966 36PY was sold to Frank Mooney, the Ndola copper refinerys chief draftsman, who in turn sold it on circa 1970 to the current vendors father, at that time resident in Kitwe, Zambia. He later brought the car back to the UK, restoring it in 1980 and retrieving its original registration OT 3. 36PY is featured in Raymond Gentiles book, The Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental (pages 194 and 203) and comes with a (copy) article about the model written by Norman Wright for Horizon magazine (January 1965). In his article Mr Wright praises the cars supreme flexibility, recalling that he once drive it all the way from Salisbury to Ndola in top gear. Affording the prospect of motoring in the truly grand style, this much-travelled Phantom II Continental is offered with current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5 registration document.