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Car of the Month Selection

Rolls-Royce - The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI


Car of the Month - January 2010
Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 1952, #4AF20
Sedanca de Ville by Hooper


Only 18 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV have been built. So exclusive were Phantom IV that only “Royalty and Heads of States” were permitted to place an order and thus 17 cars were delivered. The experimental car was dismantled completely at the factory after end of tests. Among the Phantom IV that one with chassis-number #4AF20 is unique because it is the one and only with Sedanca de Ville coachwork.

His Royal Highness Sultan Mohamed Shah, The Aga Khan III. commissioned Hooper & Co (Coachbuilders) Ltd., London, to build combined drawing-room comfort with intimate luxuries. The seventy-two years old spiritual leader of the Ismailian Muslim sect was enormously wealthy and certainly could arrange for almost any wish he might have to be fulfilled. The coachbuilder’s records – covering not only the two years between first contact as regards this order and delivery, but some of the period afterwards, too – allow to say that quite a few suggestions had been expressed by Her Royal Highness The Begum.

Here will follow only three spotlights in detail on peculiarities:

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Each wheel was affixed by 10 studs (standard on Rolls-Royce of the post-war period were 5 studs) and the steel wheel rim was made to a design that usually was found on trucks. This is a feature not to be found on any other model from Rolls-Royce during the entire period after World War II. Hence it is no folly idea to have a spare-rim “just in case”.

On this Sedanca de Ville the bootlid was executed in a form that it could be fixed to offer space for extra-luggage. What remained as boot-capacity behind a second bootlid still was sufficient to be compared to what is offered nowadays by a compact sedan. There was a separate access to the compartment where the spare wheel was stored by folding down the entire panel incorporating the rear license plate. Once that was taken out another trap-door was visible underneath which big-dimensioned tools were neatly fitted. – Small tools were kept in drawer under the fascia's passenger side.

The interior was in red; leather, headlining, carpets and rear blind were all in that colour, only the wooden accoutrements from polished French walnut set an accent. The inner side of the shutter that enabled to cover a part of the rear quarter windows was trimmed with red leather, too, and a cut-glass mirror was fitted. The exterior side was covered in black and thus this feature could not be recognized at a quick glance.

The years after World War II were rather austere in most countries of Europe and the glamour of the wealthy couple living most of those years at their villa at the Cote d’Azure was highly attractive for press and newsreel-movies. Most certainly T.R.H. Aga Khan III. and his wife, The Begum, at their time were among the most-photographed celebrities in the world. – That said it is astonishing that despite certain research having been invested on two points up to now sufficient details couldn’t be found:

Hitherto it has not been possible to obtain a colour photo (although such photos most certainly are filed with various archives!) showing this car with its original colour. This Rolls-Royce Phantom IV had been delivered in dark green with a sideline in light green. – The toy car's colour separation isn’t entirely correct because the lighter sideline was extended the bonnet’s edge right up to the radiator. Would anyone out there be in a position to advise how to obtain an original colour photo of this car? Even if the photographer concentrated on the persons and his photo might show only portions of the car such a photo would be appreciated.

And the second point is that the car on delivery did show the Coat of Arms of His Royal Highness Sultan Mohamed Shah, The Aga Khan III. Would anyone out there be in a position to advise what that Coat of Arms or the Armorial Bearings respectively looked like.

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