Rolls-Royce Phantom I: A Priceless Gem from the Age of Elegance
The name “Rolls-Royce” has been synonymous with classic luxury since 1906. But, from 1925 to 1929, the company managed to exceed even its lofty standards with the Phantom, later renamed the Phantom I. The car was so well-built it carried a three-year warranty– practically unheard of at the time. Like all Rolls-Royce vehicles built until 1949, the Phantom I came from the factory as a bare chassis. A coach maker would add the custom-built passenger compartment later. At the Phantom I’s heart was a massive 7.7 liter (about 470 ci) straight-6 engine with overhead valves. This was a distinct improvement over the side valves used by its predecessor, the Silver Ghost. PHOTOS: See more of the 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Tourer
The engine produced 113 hp, which the ad guys at Rolls-Royce described as “sufficient.” Hyperbole was not among their list of talents. Otherwise, the frame was essentially the same as the Ghost, with the front axle suspended from semi-elliptical springs while cantilevers held up the rear.
Differences between UK and US Versions
Two different versions of the Phantom I were built, one in each country. The British model differed in several ways from its American counterpart, which was put together at Rolls-Royce’s facility in Springfield, MA. Some notable differences between the two included the following...
PHOTOS: See more images of the 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I
-The UK Phantom used a complex lubricating system to oil the engine. Employing 50 separate “nipples,” the network required extensive maintenance every 500 miles or so. The US version used a much simpler system driven by a single pump.
-The UK Phantom featured a four-speed transmission, while the US version had a center-change three-speed.
-The UK version had a 150.5” wheelbase, as opposed to the US model’s 146.5” length.
-While the UK Phantoms had brakes on all four wheels, on some US models brakes were only installed in the rear.
-The fuel gauge on most UK-built Phantoms was attached near the gas tank. Many US models, on the other hand, featured a dash-mounted gauge.
PHOTOS: See more images of the 1928 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Newmarket
Buying a Phantom I Today
There are some splendid examples of this iconic Rolls available for purchase, most of which are in Great Britain. While many of the sales notices list a price, others say that the cost is “available upon request.” I guess the old adage is true: if you have to ask, then you can’t afford it. Fair enough, given that the Phantom I is more than just another motor car. It’s an heirloom from a bygone era, a time in which “elegance” was more than a word; it was a way of life.
PHOTOS: See more images of the 1928 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Tilbury