1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Limousine de
Paris Motor Show car with very elegant coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly; silver plated fittings; driven over 50 miles to the sale
Widely regarded as ‘the best car in the world’ the 40/50 Silver Ghost, was going to be a very hard act to follow.
Introduced in 1906 and remaining in production largely unchanged until 1925, what really set it apart was the perfection of its engineering, only possible due to its post-WW1 'chassis only' price of £1,850, a colossal sum at a time when a labourer’s weekly wage was about £2 and a decent family home cost about £500.
A relatively conventional design, it used side-by-side valves, cantilever rear springs and a separate gearbox. By 1924 even Rolls-Royce had to admit that its more sophisticated competition was starting to affect sales, not that they could rival the Ghost's silence and quality. Hispano Suiza in particular, who had a similar aeronautical background gained from the war effort, were offering more glamorous and better performing products.
In 1925 the ‘New Phantom’ was unveiled. Using the same chassis as the Ghost, the new 40/50 featured an all-new engine with pushrod operated overhead valves located in two individual blocks of three cylinders with a single detachable head. Looking like an enlarged 20hp unit, great care was taken to silence the valve actuation, a complex task which had held off such developments previously. The stroke was increased to 139.7mm delivering more torque, while the bore was decreased slightly to 107.9mm giving a capacity of 7,668cc.
By 1929, Rolls-Royce were in a position to update the Phantom once more, introducing the Phantom II which although looking much as before, was greatly improved in virtually all areas.
The most fundamental advance was to the chassis, which did away with the old cantilever springs and used semi-elliptic instead, allowing a lower stance, reduced rear wheel steer and better handling and comfort all round.
The gearbox was now four-speed and bolted directly to the engine, the car using an open propshaft, reducing weight, complexity and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). A Bijur central lubrication system was also fitted to all cars.
The engine also came in for attention, remaining much as before but with the addition of a crossflow head for efficiency.
Given its size and 150” wheelbase, it was certainly a most impressive car. This 1929 example on offer today was sold to Mrs Hoth of Queen Street, Edinburgh, but not before it was sent to Rootes distributors in London for display at the Paris Salon of that year.
A note in the build record states that ‘Payment to be made 3-months after termination of Paris Show, or when car sold, whichever the sooner’. It was therefore built for the show and bodied accordingly – perhaps Mrs Hoth spotted it on her ‘Grand Tour’ and couldn’t resist?
In any event, the chassis was delivered to Thrupp and Maberley on 20th August direct from the works with a chassis only price of £1,673. The springs were set for coachwork of approximately 12 ½ cwt with seating for six but usually three and the normal amount of luggage (but with one extra spare wheel).
The coachwork selected was their supremely elegant ‘Limousine de Ville’, which had a soft top for the Chauffeur and luxurious Bedford Cord for the rear passengers. The bodywork was low-set, with a relatively low roofline making for a very imposing car indeed and must have looked fabulous on the Paris Show stand.
The final bill from Thrupp and Maberley included a whopping £32 for silver plated fittings, which included the radiator shutters and Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, although whether these have subsequently been re-plated, we do not know. The screen surround and folding hood top in front of the driver certainly remain silver plated today – and although £32 may not sound like a lot of money – it was a third of the price of an Austin 7 at the time!
The car was purchased by the current owners nearly 30 years ago from The Real Car Company in North Wales who had imported the car back into the UK in 1991 – from where we are not sure. Shortly after acquisition it was treated to a bare-metal respray in yellow from dark maroon by Cliff Long and was soon put to good use as a part of a sizeable fleet of wedding vehicles. It was fastidiously maintained in the vendor’s own workshops and MOTd every year.
Proving a paragon of reliability, it received regular care and maintenance, bills on file showing new clutch linings in 1993 from Brunt’s of Silverdale, who also supplied a reconditioned crankshaft damper in ’95. Brunt’s also supplied a new water pump shaft in 1996 and in 1997 they fitted new little end bushes and stripped and descaled the blocks along with new copper internal tubes and various other repairs.
Other than that, the last 30 years have passed very smoothly and the car is now only offered for sale due to the changing nature of the wedding business. It has been driven some 40 miles to the sale and runs very quietly but now needs some more regular exercise having seen little use of the last few years.
One of the most attractive full-scale Rolls-Royce’ we have seen, this imposing car would make a superb centrepiece to any collection.
For more information - contact [email protected]
Reg No: UW991
Chassis Number: 9WJ
Engine Number: XI95
Engine Size: 7668
Docs: V5C, old style Log Book, 19 old MOT's, Photographs, Invoices.
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