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Rossfeldt: Rolls-Royce and Bentley / From the Dawn of the 20th Century into the new Millennium




Car of the Month - January 2023
Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental, 1933, #7MW
Saloon by Arthur Mulliner, Northampton, England


Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental

Arthur Mulliner did originate from a carriers’ business established in Northampton most presumably during the period between 1690 and 1710. The destruction of all the company’s records doesn’t permit to give exact details. The coachbuilding trade of the Mulliner family was firmly established by 1760, when the Northampton-based company is documented as having built coaches for the Royal Mail.

It is a fair guess all four separate coachbuilding companies trading with the name Mulliner might have descended from the original family:

  1. Arthur Mulliner based in Northampton, 73-83 Bridge Street. In addition later showrooms were  arranged for at 54, Baker Street, Westminster, London W1 and a workshop at 83-85 Henry Street, Marylebone, London NW8.
  2. Mulliner based in Liverpool who also opened a showroom in Brook Street, Mayfair, London jointly with Arthur Mulliner trading as Mulliner (London) Ltd.
  3. H.J. Mulliner who bought the Mayfair showroom; Henry Jervis Mulliner prior to World War I sold his company to Edinburgh-based coachbuilder Croall who decided to run H.J. Mulliner as a separate entity with Croall-installed managing directors recruited from the Johnstone clan. In 1959 acquired by Rolls-Royce and from 1961 onward amalgamated with Park Ward (in which Rolls-Royce held 100% of share since 1939) into a coachbuilding division H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward. After Volkswagen Group took over the motor car manufacturer Bentley at Crewe the name Mulliner was revived as a marketing-label for customized Bentley cars.
  4. Mulliners Ltd. of Birmingham; often neglected - though arguably at one time the largest production coachbuilder in Europe with 1,500 employees. Founded in 1792 by Herbert Mulliner this company remained in business until the early 1920s when the transformation had been managed  from producing horse-drawn carriages to building coachwork for motor cars. During 1924 the name and goodwill were bought by Louis Antweiler and continued as a coachbuilder until they finished their last body on a Bentley Mark VI in 1952. By 1957 they were taken over by and integrated into Standard-Triumph. d.

Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental

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Arthur H. Mulliner was the son of F. Mulliner who set up the original Mulliner company making mail coaches in Northampton. Arthur H. Mulliner’s son Arthur Felton Mulliner (born 1859) took the company into the construction of motor car bodies after he took over in 1887. By 1900 they had built over 150 bodies mainly on Daimler cars and were considered the major British coachbuilder on motor cars. In 1907, in addition to running the Northampton works, a new sales office and factory was opened in Long Acre, London. With orders for bodies on Armstrong Siddeley and Vauxhall cars their businees boomed. Arthur Mulliner was keen on exhibiting their products at various motor shows during the 1920s and 1930s. For their Limousine coachwork on a Rolls-Royce Phantom I in 1926 they won the first ever IBCAM awarded at the Olympia Motor Show in London.

Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental

The company is known to have created coachwork for 42 Rolls-Royce Phantom II. Although orders for the more traditional makers such as Bentley, Daimler and Rolls-Royce continued, from the 1930s onward large production runs from the middle market makers were proving harder to get. Arthur Mulliner could rely upon a fine reputation; their products were top-class quality and their designs were considered neat and discreet. The overwhelming majority of coachwork from Arthur Mulliner were closed bodies in the form of Limousines or Saloons although they made a few Fixed Head Coupés and Drophead Coupés and Tourers to comply with clients’ desire.

Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental

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