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Car of the Month Selection

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The Classic Elegance

Wood: Rolls-Royce and Bentley: Spirit of Excellence

 

Car of the Month - May 2008
Rolls-Royce Phantom II, 1933, #89MV
Sports Open Tourer by Hooper


  Rolls-Royce Phantom II

Aspects of formal elegance obviously have not been the most important criteria when this design was developed. What was the reason then for Hooper who were renowned for their attractive creations to erect this body on the chassis of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II #89MW that was delivered to H.H. The Maharajah Sir Sawai of Jaipur? This remarkable design can be traced back to the year 1926 and early Rolls-Royce Phantom I experimental cars. The manufacturer had not been amused when tests had shown that the new Rolls-Royce Phantom's top speed and acceleration was inferior to what had been achieved with certain Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, the predecessor. Frederick Henry Royce did investigate and found as a major reason that over the years coachwork had become much heavier. To a certain extent that was due to higher weight of components (to increase stability), though the fact that more opulent features (fitted to meet clients' demands) added weight couldn't be neglected either. The company ordered three special bodies from various coachbuilders. These were open touring cars that combined lightweight and stability with a coachwork to a design by Ivan Evernden, a member from the team of F.H. Royce. For that period the design was far ahead of its time and the result were true sports cars. These were as fast expected – as regards acceleration and top speed they did beat the ‘old’ Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.

Rolls-Royce Phantom II

The puristic lines that F. Henry Royce had insisted upon – and this is one of the very few documented cases that "the Grand Old Man himself" guided the design of a complete body! – met applause by quite a number of customers whose main interest was outstanding performance. They were willing to accept a body "reduced to the max", built exactly to the motto "Form follows Function". After the end of production of Rolls-Royce Phantom I in 1928 such bodies were made well into the 30ies, though not in exceptional high numbers, on chassis of Rolls-Royce Phantom II. A newspaper report from the 30ies exists and stated therein that "For Use in India" coachwork to that special design even had been built on the chassis of the 'small' Rolls-Royce 20/25 H.P.; that one was to the order of H.H. The Maharajah of Maudi.


 

 

Rolls-Royce Phantom IIAs regards this Rolls-Royce Phantom II with chassis-number #89MW the Hooper Body Books, i.e. the company documents of the coachbuilder, show the Sports Open Touring Body was made "As 7701" and that is a hint it was along the lines of the body made in December 1932 for the Rolls-Royce Phantom II with chassis-number #44MY. This doesn't mean though that the coachwork was identical in every respect; certain details could be entirely different.

The special colour and the enthusiasm of the 1st owner is reflected in the name this car became known in collector’s circles: "The Tiger’s Eye of Jaipur". Beside incorporating all those advantages that are characteristics of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II this particular car shows a body that was result of Sir F. Henry Royce's genius – a lightweight coachwork with almost avant-garde lines.

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Rolls-Royce Phantom II



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