1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II 'Continental' Touring Saloon
Coachwork by H.J. Mulliner & Co.
Chassis no. 64GX
Engine no. FF75
* 7.7-liter straight six cylinder
* Four-speed manual transmission
* Desirable 'Continental' specification
* Well documented history
* Retains the original H.J.Mulliner coachwork
* Unique flared wings and dual rear-mounted spare tires.
* Eligible for major Concours d'Elegance events
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 7,668cc engine too had come in for extensive revision. The PI's 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 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 driver's 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.
Produced in very limited numbers, with only 281 examples ever completed, the Phantom II Continental's wealthy owners included such famous names as the racing drivers Sir Malcolm Campbell and Woolf Barnato, Prince Ali Khan, Princess Alexis Midvani, the Prince of Nepal, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Roseberry, Lord Doverdale, the Maharajah of Jodhpur and Noel Coward.
Favored by all the fashionable coachbuilders of the era, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs and this particular Touring Saloon is no exception, being the work of famed coachbuilders H.J. Mulliner and Co. A striking design, notable features include uniquely flared wings, dual rear mounted spare tyres, blind quarters, painted disc wheel covers and side hood louvers extending to the cowl.
Off-test in April of 1931, '64GX' comes with copy chassis cards recording it was sold new via CH Martin Ltd. of Cliff Bridge, Lewes, delivered in early June 1931 to its commissioning owner, Mr. H Asa Thomas, Esq. Mr. Thomas was the long-time friend and attorney of wealthy American philanthropist and millionaire art collector Edward Perry Warren. Upon Warren's death in late 1928 Thomas inherited his entire estate, including an immense art collection, (that housed Rodin's The Kiss among dozens of other notable pieces) and the historic Lewes House and Gardens. It's assumed that Warren's funds cleared probate some time in 1930, prompting Mr. Thomas to purchase a number of fine things with his new-found wealth, including '64GX'.
Mr. Thomas' ownership extended for nearly three decades, the first change of ownership (according to a copy of the car's British Excise Act Registration Book records) occurring in November 1958 to a Mr. Bernard Geoffrey Collings of Okehampton. The chassis cards list various subsequent owners including a Mr. S.E.L. Sturgeon of Surrey (whom commissioned a thorough restoration in October 1967) and a Mr. W.B. St. John Montagu of London (whom commissioned a comprehensive mechanical rebuild in June 1971). The car was exported to the United States in January 1977 and would remain with one owner for 35 years until his death in 2011.
We are advised that '64GX' has covered only 50,175 miles to date, documented by various service invoices, sales agreements, registration listings and a hand written mileage and maintenance journal that are all on file. Since the consignor's purchase of the car in 2011, a sympathetic restoration began with the aim to preserve the original structure, retaining as many original components as possible and refurbishing where necessary. Following complete disassembly of the wings, running boards, doors, mudguards, under-wing components and all interior trim, the coachwork was taken to bare metal and refinished in black, the car's original color, with silver pinstriping. The oxblood red Connolly leather seats have been complimented by completely new Wilton wool carpeting, a refurbished headliner and freshly polished original walnut interior wood accents. The original wheels are fitted with proper color-matched discs and shod with six matching Denman tyres. The car has received over $25,000 in mechanical work by marque experts D&D Restorations of Covington, Ohio and Roger Ford of Beaumont, California, allowing for a smooth and sporting drive quality, as originally intended. Labor included, but was not limited to work on the cam followers, new pistons and liners and an overhaul of the radiator and water pump (bills on file). Matching chassis, engine and body numbers attest to a very original car, beautifully presented and ready for its next proud owner's enjoyment.