Rolls-Royce Phantom II Close Coupled 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 were 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.
While most coachbuilders evolved from the carriage-making trade, Park Ward was formed by W.H. Park and C.W. Ward just after the war with the clear intention of manufacturing coachwork for motor cars. The result was a product more suited to automobile bodies. Less than a year later, the new firm received their first commission for a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Quality alone, however, doesn't guarantee economic success, and by 1924, the partners faced financial difficulties which they resolved by taking outside capital and changing the name to Park Ward & Co.
Rolls-Royce's appreciation led to a number of orders which helped Park Ward bridge their difficult financial situation. The co-operation between the coachbuilder and the motor car manufacturer worked very well. Numerous bodies for prototypes, so-called experimental cars, were made. In 1930, Rolls-Royce motor cars were counting for more than 90% of Park Ward's production. Two years later a contract was signed to build several bodies in series, as a sort of standard body, for Rolls-Royce. This enabled customers to take complete Rolls-Royce motor cars with coachwork by Park Ward directly from the showroom if they found design and interior to their liking. The arrangement became mutually beneficial but evolved into complete dependence, and in 1939 Rolls-Royce took over Park Ward.
According to Rolls-Royce factory records, chassis number 195GY was delivered to none other than Mr. T.A. Roberts, the Chairman of Park Ward Coachbuilders, for his own use as well as demonstration purposes. If it were possible for the master craftsmen of these famous works to lavish any more attention to detail on their charges, this is a car over which they would have taken extra care. The chassis card notes that the long chassis was specified for close coupled coupe coachwork, an unusual yet very attractive combination. It was also noted as having been set up for continental use and fitted with extra Hartford shocks, with special attention “to be given to performance,” with accessories including a full set of polished wheel discs, including four road wheels, twin rear-mounted spares and a sporting rear-mounted trunk.
The Close Coupled Coupe coachwork is amongst the most stylish fitted to the Phantom chassis. The view down the long bonnet from the drivers seat in conjunction with the car's clean profile, the short cabin area, rows of louvers and the twin spares on the trunk all combine to give an impression of speed and lightness to the chassis. The impression the car made driving through the streets of London in the early ’30s, pulling up outside the most exclusive addresses in Mayfair and Belgravia, can only be imagined. Indeed, Mr. Roberts lived in Devonshire House in the heart of Mayfair, and the car no doubt attracted admiration whenever it was parked outside.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
158 bhp, 7,668 cc overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine with twin ignition (coil and magneto), four-speed transmission, semi-elliptic leaf spring and solid axle front suspension, semi-elliptic leaf spring and live axle rear suspension, and four-wheel self-equalizing servo assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 144".
Source: RM Auctions