1927 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom I Limousine Coachwork by Locke & Co, New York Registration no. YH 5929 Chassis no. 109NC Engine no. QJ55
Rolls-Royce's 'single model' policy had proved to be an outstanding success for the company, but immediately after the end of the Great War the recession in the motor trade prompted the introduction of a smaller, cheaper, 20hp car to be built alongside the existing 40/50hp Silver Ghost. Henry Royce's new design incorporated a number of modern features such as overhead valve-gear for its six-cylinder engine, a centre-change gearbox and 'Hotchkiss drive' rear axle, the advanced newcomer's arrival only serving to emphasise the Silver Ghost's Edwardian origins. However, the 45/50hp model would soon benefit from developments pioneered on its smaller sibling.
Long-awaited successor to the 'Ghost, the New Phantom arrived in 1925. 'After seven years of experiment and test, in the course of which no promising device had remained untried, the 45/50hp Phantom chassis emerged, and is offered to the public as the most suitable type possible for a mechanically propelled carriage under present-day conditions,' announced Rolls-Royce.
Retrospectively known as the Phantom I, the newcomer boasted an entirely new push-rod overhead-valve, 7,688cc, six-cylinder engine with detachable cylinder head, a unit considerably more powerful than that of its Edwardian predecessor. The New Phantom, like the 20hp, adopted a disc-type clutch and adjustable radiator shutters; its chassis though, remained essentially the same as that of the later four-wheel-braked 'Ghost and would continue fundamentally unchanged until the arrival of the Phantom II in 1929 brought with it an entirely new frame. Some 2,212 Phantom I chassis had left Rolls-Royce's UK factory by the time production ceased.
Chassis number '109NC' was originally ordered by one Joseph Widener of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, who specified that the car be delivered to a Mr Cohn of 9 Rue Octave Feuillet in Paris. Subsequently the original Barker cabriolet coachwork was replaced and the car now wears a period-correct body by noted New York coachbuilders Locke & Co. The Phantom was purchased in 1997 by the current owner, who then embarked on a body-off restoration, which is fully documented by numerous photographs. The Locke coachwork looks magnificent with a very upright period appearance, the rear being very carriage like, while the deep claret and black paintwork is described as superb. The interior of the car appears absolutely correct and original while being in similarly good original condition. Upholstery to the rear is cloth, with no wear or foxing of the material, while the front compartment's black leather is more heavily patinated. All the woodwork is original and in good order, having been refinished. The interior incorporates a variety of pleasing touches including twin vanity sets to the rear, pull down privacy blinds and a speaker 'phone for addressing the driver. Completely rebuilt and recovered, a capacious motoring trunk is carried at the rear of the car while twin side mount spares are fitted to the running boards. The engine bay is tidy and well detailed. Currently MoT'd and taxed, this imposing Phantom limousine is offered with Swansea V5C document.