1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Touring Saloon Coachwork by H J Mulliner & Co Registration no. PN 7751 Chassis no. 64GX Engine no. FF75
The Phantom II Continental was the last Rolls-Royce to be designed under the personal supervision of Henry Royce, before his death in 1933. As its name suggests, this new Rolls-Royce was intended for fast continental touring; indeed, there were few roads in Britain where its outstanding performance - the top speed was around 95mph - could safely be exploited to the full.
Produced for a relatively short period, during which time only 281 examples were completed, the Phantom II Continental typically sold for around £2,500 (more in some cases), a quite staggering amount to ask for a motor car and equivalent to the cost of no fewer than six or seven average-priced houses in the UK at that time! The Continental's - necessarily 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, Lord Londesborough, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Roseberry, Lord Doverdale, Lionel de Rothschild, Anthony de Rothschild, the Maharaja of Bahawalpur, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, N S Gulbenkian and Noel Coward.
The Continental could not have got off to a better 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'Élegance in September 1930. Highly favoured by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis would provide the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day and this particular Touring Saloon is no exception, being the work of H J Mulliner and Co. Notable features of this striking design include uniquely flared wings, dual rear mounted spare tyres, blind quarters, painted disc wheel covers and side hood louvres extending to the cowl.
Off test in April 1931, '64GX' comes with copy chassis cards recording that it was sold new via C H Martin Ltd of Cliff Bridge, Lewes and delivered in early June 1931 to the order of its first owner, Mr H Asa Thomas. 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 1928, Thomas had inherited his entire estate, including an immense art collection that housed Rodin's 'The Kiss' among dozens of other notable pieces, together with the historic Lewes House and gardens. Mr Thomas' ownership of the Continental lasted for nearly three decades.
The first change of ownership (according to a copy of the car's British Excise Act Registration Book records) occurred in November 1958 when it passed to a Mr Bernard Geoffrey Collings of Okehampton, Devon. Subsequent owners listed include a Mr S E L Sturgeon of Surrey (who commissioned a thorough restoration in October 1967) and a Mr W B St John Montagu of London (who commissioned a comprehensive mechanical rebuild in June 1971). In January 1977 the car was exported to the USA and would remain there with one owner for 35 years until his death in 2011 when it was sold.
A sympathetic restoration was then undertaken with the aim of preserving the original structure while retaining as many original components as possible and refurbishing wherever necessary. Following complete disassembly of the wings, running boards, doors, mudguards, under-wing components and all interior trim, the coachwork was stripped back to bare metal and refinished in black, the car's original colour, with silver pin-striping. The oxblood red Connolly leather seats are complimented by new Wilton wool carpeting, a refurbished headliner and freshly polished original walnut interior wood trim. Fitted with proper colour-matched discs, the original wheels are shod with matching Denman tyres. Mechanical work costing over $25,000, including overhauls of the engine, water pump and radiator, was carried out by marque experts D&D Restorations of Covington, Ohio and Roger Ford of Beaumont, California (bills on file).
In August 2012 the Phantom was offered for sale at Bonhams' Quail Lodge Sale in (Lot 422) where it was purchased by the current owner. At that time it was stated that that '64GX' had covered only 50,175 miles, as documented by various service invoices, sales agreements, registration listings and a hand written mileage and maintenance journal on file. EU import duties have been paid and the car comes with UK V6C registration document. Retaining matching chassis, engine and body numbers, this highly original and beautifully presented car is eligible for the most important Concours d'Élegance events and ready to be enjoyed by its next proud owner.