Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sport Coupe
Rolls-Royce made the announcement in September 1929 that the Phantom I chassis would be discontinued. Following Sir Henry Royce’s staunch belief in evolution not revolution, the company decided it was time to replace the PI with a more refined, updated chassis and an improved engine with cross-flow cylinder head for better breathing. Rolls-Royce debuted this new chassis – known today as the Phantom II – the following month at the London Olympia Motor Show. Of particular note was the PII’s rear springs, which were underslung. A considerable reduction in ride height was the result of the new rear spring layout, especially when combined with the PII’s new lower frame; the total reduction was on the order of nine inches, lending itself to more modern and sleek body designs.
Phantom II production spanned a relatively brief period of time, only six years between 1929 and 1935. In all, approximately 1,681 examples of the PII were produced. With the customer’s choice of coachwork from any of the leading firms, each individual car was highly distinctive and often tailor made to the buyer.
The Continental was a limited production Rolls-Royce offering higher performance and a more sporting feel. As the name implies, it was intended for use on “the continent,” where higher speeds and mountainous terrain were more common. In practice, the “Continental” specification was somewhat variable, according to the wishes of the owner. Nonetheless, all Continentals were built on a short chassis (144-inch wheelbase) with a stiffer five leaf spring setup and relatively lightweight coachwork. Ultimately, just 281 of these special Continentals would be built, including 156MY.
Hooper & Co. of London was established in 1807 in Haymarket. By 1904 they had opened their famous showrooms at 54 St. James Street, Piccadilly in London’s fashionable west end.
The firm was unique in that they held Royal Warrants from approximately 1920 until the firm closed its doors in the 1950s – indelibly associating Hooper coachwork with England’s Royal Family by providing bespoke automobiles through nine reigns of Kings & Queens of England. At one time or another, Hooper & Co. have had Royal Warrants granted by virtually every one of the crowned heads of Europe.
The design of the car is unique in several respects. As a fixed head coupé, it was certainly intended to be owner-driven – and the compact design certainly meets the Continental criteria for lightweight coachwork. The Phantom II’s long hood provides a pleasing balance to the short-coupled body, and the sweeping tail (a feature just beginning to appear in 1933) adds a sporting flair to the design. The hood was specified to be louvered, with the rear edge to be angled at 11 degrees – an elegant touch.
Another interesting feature is the integral trunk – one of the first cars to be so equipped. In addition, a drop down panel below the trunk lid provides access to a pair of swing-out levers designed to carry a traditional exterior leather trunk with fitted luggage. Inside the integral trunk is an elaborate and beautifully finished walnut tool box with a lift-out tray that holds a comprehensive tool kit (with each tool fitting into a custom-shaped recess). Below the tool tray is a large compartment containing a variety of spares, no doubt intended to meet the needs of extended Continental touring.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2009 at the Battersea Evolution, London.
158 bhp 7,668 cc overhead valve inline six cylinder engine with twin ignition (coil and magneto) four speed transmission, semi-elliptical leaf spring and solid axle front suspension, semi-elliptical leaf spring and live axle rear suspension, and four-wheel self-equalizing servo assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 144".
Source: RM Auctions