1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Sedanca de Ville Coachwork by J Gurney Nutting Registration no. CGP 389 (see text) Chassis no. 48UK Engine no. JB65
Body no. 1674
This is the 19th car from the end of Phantom II production and, therefore, has 2nd gear synchromesh and the larger carburettor, etc. The first owner was H R B Abbey, whose family owned hotels and the Kemptown Brewery and racecourse in Brighton. Mr Abbey also owned a renowned collection of early Chinese glass, which is now in the Bristol Museum. His nephew was none other than John Blatchley, the famous Gurney Nutting and, later, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars designer. However, this car was designed by John's boss at Gurney Nutting, A F McNeil. According to marque authority, Tom Clarke, there were only two Villa Sedanca bodies of this design and this car will feature in the forthcoming book about Gurney Nutting that he is compiling with Jack Triplett. '48UK' has never featured in any of the usual Rolls-Royce books and is, therefore, something of a discovery. H R Owen used it to advertise the coachwork and copies of 'The Field' and 'Country Life' magazine advertisements are in the accompanying history file.
'48UK' is an extremely handsome car and with the high waist/low window line could fairly be described as a Villa Sedanca 'Coupé'. There are various Art Deco features and a hall-marked, silver-topped perfume bottle and leather-trimmed makeup mirror to the ladies' vanity unit in the rear. The car is said to be very original and complete. We are advised that wear to the accelerator pedal and other components inspected during re-commissioning indicates that the recorded mileage of 78,000 could well be correct.
Acquired by the current owner in 2008 from the USA, where it had resided since 1960, the car had not been used for some 12 years and may well have been laid up for somewhat longer. According to the vendor's research, there have only been approximately five previous owners, including a father and his son (the immediately preceding owner) in the USA. The 'CGP 389' UK registration is still displayed on the car, but the next owner will have to go through 'the usual channels' if the original number is to be reinstated by the DVLA rather than an age-related plate issued.
The vendor very carefully re-commissioned the 7668cc 'six' and everything appeared to be in very good, unworn condition. Even the oil was crystal clear when drained. After much rotating of the engine to generate oil pressure, it started instantly when the ignition was turned on for the first time. The car has only been driven briefly on the owner's private road but the clutch, gearbox, rear axle and brakes, etc all appear to work well. However, further re-commissioning is recommended before returning the car to the road. Items requiring attention include the exhaust tailpipe (blowing), the dynamo (not charging) and the fuel gauge (inoperative).
'48UK' is an exceptional example of an extremely original, complete and largely unmolested Phantom that has been bodied by the master craftsmen at one of the most revered of the traditional coachbuilders, a rare and good looking survivor that could be conserved rather than restored - under the bonnet, for instance, virtually everything is as it left the factory. It would also be an excellent basis for a cosmetic or full restoration, and is only being sold because the vendor no longer has the workshop and storage facilities that he enjoyed before retiring. He also could not miss the opportunity last year to buy a 1924 Silver Ghost with original Barker coachwork.
The well researched history file is particularly impressive, containing a detailed summary of recent re-commissioning and conservation work carried out and a list of original items that are with the car, to include - two Ace spare wheel covers; an H R Owen dashboard badge; the aforementioned perfume bottle and mirror; door and ignition keys; a small JGN tool tray (the large tools are present in their fittings under the bonnet); and spare Lucas headlamps. Non-original/replica items include a rear bumper and fittings of correct type; a luggage trunk; a 'Spirit of Ecstasy' mascot and/or 'Town Cap' (one or other will be fitted to the car); and two spare exhaust silencers.