Rolls-Royce Phantom II / Phantom II Continental
Total Production: 1,681 1929 - 1936
The Phantom II was the first completely new car since the 20HP seven years earlier. The Phantom II was still rated 40/50 HP but was lower and the springing half-elliptic all around.
The car, although to Royce's design and specification, was mainly the work of his West Wittering design team and included many innovations and a redesigned engine that, with the gearbox, was now one unit.
The introduction of the Phantom II, only four years after the Phantom I, was prompted again by increased competition from other manufacturers, particularly Buick and Sunbeam. Ironically, the head of Buick had bought a Phantom I and, which so impressed everyone at Buick that they stripped it and copied much of what they learned.
Royce himself knew they were lagging behind: 'I have long considered our present chassis out of date. The back axle, gearbox, frame, springs have not been seriously altered since 1912. Now we all know it is easier to go the old way, but I so fear disaster by being out of date, and I have a lot of stock left, and by the sales falling off by secrets leaking out, that I must refuse all responsibility for a fatal position unless these improvements in our chassis are arranged to be shown next autumn, and to do this they must be in production soon after midsummer 1929.'
Royce was influenced by the lines of the current Riley Nine, and the manner in which the rear passenger's feet were tucked comfortably under the front seats in 'boxes', enabling 'close-coupled' coachwork to be fitted. Royce decided to build a special version of the car for his personal use.
Superb coachwork with modern styling was now available and Royce decided on a lightweight sporting body, which Ivan Evenden designed and Bakers built. This car became the forerunner of the legendary Phantom II Continentals.
The chassis is the standard Phantom II short model with a few modifications. These consist of a low steering column and specially selected springs. There never was a defined speciation of a Continental Phantom II. The series to series engineering improvements were applied to all chassis.Source - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited
The Rolls-Royce Phantom II was very similar to the Phantom I in many ways, but brought improvements such as a higher horsepower rating and the removal of the traditional torque-tube drive. Instead, the engine and gearbox were constructed in unit with each other rather than being separate. The Autovac was now using an engine-driven pump. A new water-heated induction system was used. The Battery and magneto ignition was the same as in the Phantom I. Built-in centralized lubrication was now a standard feature and the Catilever rear springs were shed in favor of semi-elliptic units. The bodies of the car sat atop of a separate sub-frame which helped eliminate distortion.
After the construction of the first Phantom II, named the 18 EX, it was put through its paces on a 10,000-mile test drive to identify the vehicles short-comings and to ensure the vehicle was constructed to Rolls-Royce standards. The car was driven on many types of terrain and at various speeds. It was reported that the car drove best at 70-mph.
Most of the left-hand drive coachwork, those vehicles intended for the United States market, was handed by Brewster and Co. The European versions were bodied by names such as Hooper, Arthur Mulliner, Park Ward, Barker, and Thrupp & Maberly.
Construction of the Phantom II lasted from 1929 through 1935, at which point it was succeeded by the Phantom III and its large twelve-cylinder engine.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007