1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II

[B]The Phantom II Continental

Reputedly the last model Henry Royce designed himself the Phantom II was introduced in 1929 as a successor to the New Phantom. Following Royce's keen interest in a more sporting version, as evidenced from the Experimental Phantoms (see Lot 357) and designed around the short (144') Phantom II chassis a ‘Continental' version arrived in 1930. As the name suggested it was conceived as ‘an enthusiastic owner driver's car' intended for fast touring abroad, and featured revised rear suspension, higher axle ratio and lowered steering column. Highly favored by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day its new low-slung frame, enhanced engine performance and set back radiator lending itself well to coachbuilders art.

By the end of production the magnificent Phantom II Continental was good for 95mph. 'Powerful, docile, delightfully easy to control and a thoroughbred, it behaves in a manner which is difficult to convey without seeming to over-praise,' opined The Motor after testing a PII Continental in March 1934.

The growing interest in closed and streamlined cars of the Thirties meant that the lion's share of coachwork on these chassis was devoted to sporting saloons, as fashion moved away from long open tourers of the 1920s. Coachbuilders adapted to this, and began to produce a more ‘convertible' dual purpose body, this car being one such example of that transitional era.

Captain Jack Frederick Conrad Kruse

For those unfamiliar with the name it is particularly pertinent when considering the importance of this Phantom II Continental to elaborate on Capt. Kruses's motoring interests.

Born the eldest son of a banker, Jack Kruse was the ultimate motoring sportsman of the ‘Roaring Twenties'. His life story, chronicled by Tom Clarke in The Flying Lady in 2001/2 portrays him as a cross between a character from Jeeves and Wooster novel and James Bond! He survived the trenches of the Peninsula Campaign and even his ship being torpedoed on his way home, to be demobilized with the rank of Captain and to go on to found successful businesses in Amsterdam and London. His constant traveling caused him to separate from his first wife only to meet his second, a widow and hotel chain heiress, Annabel Wilson, during one of many trips to America in the early 1920s. By the latter part of the decade they were firmly established in the British society elite and owned Sunning House in the middle of Sunningdale Women's Golf Course, where 22 staff including 3 chauffeurs attended their every need.

Capt. Kruse had a vociferous appetite for fast and elegant cars and from the early 1920s developed a particular passion for Rolls-Royce, while among his close friends he could count Frank L. Manning Showroom manager for Barker & Co. who were responsible for many of the bodies on his cars, and his close motoring associations brought him into contact with Amherst Villiers. In 1928 Kruse gave Villiers carte blanche to rework his Phantom 1 Barker Tourer ‘31 HC'. This followed on from Villiers work on the supercharged Vauxhall, and preceded his liaison with Henry ‘Tim' Birkin on the Blower Bentleys. A familiar sight in marque histories for its novelty it used a completely separate engine mounted on the side of the chassis to drive the supercharger. This extraordinary project absorbed two years of Villier's time, and is rumored to have cost Kruse somewhere between £10-16,000 – enough to have bought him 5 standard Phantoms! But it hardly seems to have impressed him as he once simply referred to the car as ‘the first, and last, supercharged Rolls-Royce.'

Always in search of the best mount for competitive events, he sparred in the motoring press with those that favored particular marques baiting the Bentley Boys on a number of occasions, despite the fact that photographs from the Twenties show his stables replete with numerous cars, including two 6½ Liters and a 4½ Liter Bentley. They also show braces of supercharged Mercedes, of Bugattis and of Alfas as well as a low chassis Invicta and countless Rolls-Royce, including the sister streamlined Phantom I to the car we offer elsewhere in the sale today, ‘16 EX'.

Without doubt he was a character, his interests and the connections he used to ensure that he was ahead of the rest must be testament to the arm-twisting, favoritism and attention to detail that he would have used to build this car.

42 GX

On an extremely rare day when Bonhams & Butterfields is privileged to offer the sister experimental works Rolls-Royce to Kruse's own car, it is ultimately fitting that this car which can be considered to be linked to the next development of Royce's Phantom is offered alongside that car. It is hearsay perhaps, but save for Royce's failing health in the late 1920s, the prototype Phantom II Continental, the famed 26EX might well have sported the open coachwork that one sees on 42GX today.

When Sir Henry Royce decided that he wanted a sporting version of the Phantom II for his personal use, his designer H.I.F. Evernden was charged with penning designs loosely based on the Riley 9. Today these drawings, one a drophead coupe and the other a sports saloon reside in the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club in the U.K. At the time Evernden wrote that Nurse Aubin had vetoed the drophead on the grounds of Sir Henry's health, so 26 EX was built as a saloon by Barker's.

The drophead coupe design might have gone unused, but it seems that the ever watchful Kruse as one of Rolls' and Barker's best customers of the day, was able to convince the coachbuilder to construct it for him on this chassis, which ties its date as the second earliest Continental to have been built.

The factory records say it all – ‘This chassis to be absolutely as fast as it is possible to make it', its exacting specification states that it should be identical to 26 EX with untarnishable finish brightwork, louvred hood, speedometer in miles and kilometers, friction shock absorbers, twin rear spares etc. Further, it a supplementary fuel tank fitted in the frame and the gear lever was required to be 3' longer than standard.

Barker's received the chassis on December 12th 1930, it was then as today supremely elegant from the lightweight ‘clam-shell' front fenders that gave more than a nod to those of the Experimental P1 cars, to the compact, close coupled seating, fully folding top and twin rear trunks and spares tires.

Perhaps surprisingly, but certainly in keeping with his rapid changing of cars, Capt. Kruse kept the car no more than 6 months, before it passed to R.H.W. Jaques of Easby Abbey, York and Down Street, Piccadilly. It is known that Jaques was an active motor sports man, and this would no doubt have been a fitting choice for him given its performance.

Jaques entered the car on the 1932 RAC 1000 miles rally and the following year enlisted the aid of Margaret Allen (later Jennings) to contest the Monte Carlo Rally. Allen was one of the best known and successful lady drivers and one of only four women to hold a 120 mph Brooklands badge, so this must have seemed a strong combination!

Hardly the most likely entry, they held their own to come 30th of the 71 entrants that year and look suitably pleased when photographed on the quay at Monte Carlo, as illustrated.

It is believed that Jaques retained the car until his death, as the next known owner recorded is Thomas Neale in 1950. Just two other custodians have held the car, until it arrived in the present family 16 years ago, who had long admired its lines from publications such as George Oliver's Profile on the Phantom II to the Dalton and Watch book Coachwork on Rolls-Royce.

Shortly after acquisition a comprehensive rebuild was begun by its enthusiast owner, at that time the speedometer read some 83,000 miles, which given the limited wear to the original pistons that it was still using is thought to have been a genuine indication of its mileage.

The car was stripped down to the bare chassis frame. The engine blocks were retubed, and re-bored then fitted with new, old stock pistons. The crankshaft was lightly re-ground despite its limited wear and the bearings had new white metal throughout. A Wuesthoff camshaft and followers were fitted, and all ball bearings replaced. Coldwell Engineering assisted with regrinding the damper. The cylinder head, which appeared to have been a relatively new but correct replacement part, was retained. No work was required to the gearbox, but the rear axle was fitted with a 3.09 to 1 crown wheel and pinion by Hoffman's of Henley and with all new bearings, which makes good long distance covering. The radiator was recored, the car entirely rewired in correct pattern and color cable and within the original conduits. For modern road safety flashers and brake lights were added.

During the rebuild, the exceptional quality of the Barker coachwork resounded throughout, with lots of sheet steel reinforcing its structure. The result of which was that absolutely none of the woodwork had to be replaced, save for the panel beneath its compact trunks. The leather was matched to the original color and grain and retrimmed exactly to the original pattern, while the owner opted to lighten its original all-black livery to a two tone dark Brewster green and black.

On a Summer's day in England, the writer had the chance to take the wheel of this beautiful sporting Phantom and can wholeheartedly attest to its performance, comfort and grace which would make it an ideal long-distance car for tours as much as for concours entry.

Never publicly offered for sale before, 42 GX represents an immense opportunity to own an open sporting Phantom, that was owned new by one of the truly unique sportsman of his day, that was literally designed with performance in mind, campaigned in rallies in period and has already proven successful at major concours level in the U.K. It is featured in numerous publications, and retains a comprehensive file of references to Kruse, the marque and model, as well as some photographs and bills for the rebuild and even its original numbered handbook.

The Continental is as appreciated by collectors today as it was when new, this extremely special, highly authentic Phantom II Continental drophead, which has benefited from a sympathetic and exacting rebuild, must be one of the best.

Source - Bonhams

Vehicle Profiles

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

All-Weather Tourer
Coachwork: Hooper

Chassis Num: 143GN
Engine Num: KX35

While the Phantom I inherited its underpinnings from the Silver Ghost, the Phantom II, launched in 1929, employed an entirely new chassis, wîth semi-elliptic rear springs replacing the cantilever springing of the Ghost and Phantom I. The new low-slun....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Continental Touring Saloon
Coachwork: Carlton Carriage Company

Chassis Num: 46GX
Engine Num: WK25

In 1929, Rolls-Royce introduced their New Phantom as a successor to the older Phantom, the Phantom I. The Phantom I had used the underpinnings from the preceding 40/50hp model, the Silver Ghost. For the Phantom II, Rolls-Royce created an entirely n....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Coupe by Mulliner
Coachwork: Mulliner

Chassis Num: 126GY
Engine Num: GD35

1930 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom II Coupe has coachwork by H.J. Mulliner. It is chassis number 126GY which is powered by engine number GD35. This two-door saloon coachwork is finished in blue with matching top and grey interior, and matched wheel d....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Continental Sportsman Coupe
Coachwork: Barker

Chassis Num: 42 GX
Engine Num: DH 95

The Phantom II was introduced in 1929 as a successor to the New Phantom (which later became known as the Phantom I). This was, reputedly, the last model Henry Royce designed himself. ....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Sedanca De Ville
Coachwork: Windovers

Chassis Num: 76GN

The Rolls-Royce Phantom was basically a complete redesign of the 40/50 model, which it replaced. The 'New' Phantom, as it was known, incorporated many technical improvements that helped restore Rolls-Royce's reputation for using cutting-edge technol....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Dover Sedan
Coachwork: Brewster

When Rolls-Royce opened a US manufacturing plant based in Springfield, Massachusetts, and began to build Rolls-Royce cars on the Silver Ghost chassis in 1920, and the Brewster Company was responsible for many of the bodies. For the New Phantom in 192....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Trouville Town Car
Coachwork: Brewster

By 1930 Rolls-Royce of America was facing difficulties and the new Phantom II was only available from the Derby factory in England. Adeline Bamberger of New York purchased the chassis in England and had it shipped to the United States to be fitted wi....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Shooting Brake

Chassis Num: 67 XJ
Engine Num: WK 55

This Rolls-Royce Phantom II is known to have been delivered as a Weymann fabric saloon, originally through Birmingham UK agents, George Heath Limited in January 1930 to its first owner S.C. Harrison. After just ten months, the car was transferred to ....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Boattail Tourer
Coachwork: Hooper

Chassis Num: 23GN
Engine Num: AH 35

This 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Boat-tail Tourer was offered for sale at the 2006 Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach, Ca. It was estimated to sell for $400,000-$500,000.....[continue reading]

1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II vehicle information

Town Car
Coachwork: Brewster

This is the second body on this Rolls-Royce purchased by film star Constance Bennett. It was originally delivered by J.S. Inskip, the New York sales officer for Rolls-Royce in 1931, with a body by Trouville. It was traded in in 1935 at which point it....[continue reading]

All-Weather Tourer by Hooper
Chassis #: 143GN 
Continental Touring Saloon by Carlton Carriage Company
Chassis #: 46GX 
Coupe by Mulliner by Mulliner
Chassis #: 126GY 
Continental Sportsman Coupe by Barker
Chassis #: 42 GX 
Sedanca De Ville by Windovers
Chassis #: 76GN 
Dover Sedan by Brewster
 
Trouville Town Car by Brewster
 
Shooting Brake
Chassis #: 67 XJ 
Boattail Tourer by Hooper
Chassis #: 23GN 
Town Car by Brewster
 

History

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

1930 Rolls-Royce Models

Concepts by Rolls-Royce



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