The ex-Lady Astor
1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Sedanca de Ville
Coachwork by Barker & Co.
Chassis no. 58UK
Engine no. RX35
7,668cc OHV inline six-cylinder
Four-wheel, servo-assisted brakes
Barker & Co. Sedanca de Ville coachwork
Interesting provenance with titled first owner
Older restoration, recently mechanical checked over
The Phantom II was introduced in 1929 as a successor to the New Phantom (retrospectively known as the 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 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 magneto/coil dual ignition system remained the same as on the PI. The result of these engine changes was greatly enhanced performance, particularly for the Continental model, and the ability to accommodate weightier coachwork. Highly favored by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day, getting off to a flying start when a pre-production model ('26EX') designed by Ivan Evernden and made by Barker & Co (Henry Royce's favourite coachbuilder) won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at the Biarritz Concours d'Elegance in September 1930.
This particular Phantom II, '58UK', is a very late example 13 away from the final car built - on the long chassis and originally fitted with Sedanca de Ville coachwork by Barker & Co. commissioned for The Rt. Hon. Lady Astor. As such it incorporates a number of stylistic flourishes typical of this late series car, along with the numerous mechanical improvements made over the life of the model.
The Viscount and Lady Astor were an interesting couple to say the least. Both American by birth, they met on a Trans-Atlantic voyage in 1905 and were married in May the following year. Born Nancy Witcher Langhorne in Danville, Virginia on May 19, 1879, Lady Astor had previously been married to Robert Gould Shaw II before divorcing and moving to England to begin her new life entertaining society's elite and supporting her new husband's fledgling career in politics.
When her husband ascended to the title of Viscount in 1919, Lady Astor won the by-election for his seat in the House of Commons, becoming only the second woman elected to the House - and the first to actually take her seat, which she held until stepping down in the 1945 General Election. The Astors lived at Cliveden, an impressive estate on the River Thames, and also maintained a London residence at No. 4 St James Square, where the Rolls-Royce was delivered in September 1935.
Typical of so many Pre-War Rolls-Royces, '58UK' made its way across the Atlantic in the 1950s and was recorded with Warren G.Epstein in Saratoga, California in 1957 followed by a Mr. Sanders of California in the 1978 RROC Ownership Roster.
The most recent owner, an enthusiast and collector from Colorado, acquired the Phantom II in 1984 from Roger T. Mitchell Jr. and it became a regular participant at Concours events in the Denver area until 1995, winning numerous awards. An older restoration finished in the attractive color combination of garnet on silver with matching leather and cloth upholstery, the car was serviced in February 2012 and the vendor reports it to be running well, confirmed in an appraisal report.
Supplied with a toolkit, copies of the original build sheets and service manual, the Phantom II is offered with a Colorado title.