Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sedanca Coupe
Prophetically, as long ago as 1906, the Rolls-Royce motor car was advertised as “… not one of the best, but the best car in the world”. Of all the Rolls-Royces ever made by engineering genius Henry Royce, many believe that none is more deserving of that title than his masterpiece, the Phantom II Continental.
By 1925, the Silver Ghost had nearly reached the limits of its development, but a new chassis had not yet been built, so the car was upgraded with a new engine and dubbed the “New Phantom”. Its six-cylinder, overhead valve engine was similar in many ways to Rolls-Royce’s other current model, the Twenty, but its massive 7,668 cc displacement was more than twice the capacity of the little Twenty. The Phantom had been prepared in great secrecy, and during its development, the car was codenamed EAC, which stood for “Eastern Armoured Car”. Ernest Hives, who was in charge of development, even left pieces of armor plating around the factory, lending credence to this cover story.
The Twenty and the New Phantom were replaced in 1929, with the Twenty being developed into the 25/30, and the Phantom, which was retrospectively called the Phantom I after the launch of the Phantom II. The new Phantom II chassis was still rated 40/50 horsepower, the same as the Silver Ghost and Phantom I. However, the new car was lower, and its suspension utilized front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs. In addition, Royce was influenced by the lines of the current Riley Nine, and the manner in which the rear passengers’ feet were tucked comfortably under the front seats in foot wells, enabling a variety of close-coupled coachwork to be fitted. Royce even decided to build a special car for his own use.
Superb coachwork with modern styling was now available, and Royce decided on a lightweight sporting body, which Ivan Evernden designed and Barkers originally built, and this car became the forerunner of the legendary Phantom II Continental. Based on a chassis with a relatively short 144-inch wheelbase, the Phantom II Continental had stiffer five-leaf springs, and a 12/41 axle replaced the standard 11/41 unit, allowing greater cruising speeds. In addition, the engine’s compression ratio was increased to 5.25:1, and its design also featured a lower floor, a low-rake steering column, and Hartford remote-control shock absorbers that were later replaced by Rolls-Royce remotely-controlled hydraulic dampers.
The Continental offered higher levels of performance and more sporting driving dynamics, best suited for the enthusiast owner who would likely also choose to drive him or herself. As the name implies, the car was intended for use on “the Continent”, where higher speeds, greater distances, and mountainous terrain were the norm. Capable of reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour, the Continental was a true long-distance grand touring machine just as its name implied.
The legendary Captain Sir Malcolm Campbell, of “Bluebird” fame, swore by the Phantom II Continental. In a Rolls-Royce brochure, Campbell simply described the Continental, of which he owned two examples, with these words: “A better car does not exist the world over.” Just 1,680 Phantom IIs were manufactured between 1929 and 1935, and of these, only 281 were Phantom II Continentals.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
130bhp, 7,668 cc, overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th gears, solid front and rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 144"
Source: RM Auctions
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