10-11 March 2017
A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Drophead Sedanca Coupe by H.J. Mulliner
- Chassis no. 120SK
- Engine no. GH55
$500,000 - $750,000
To be auctioned on Friday, March 10, 2017
- Commissioned as the Jack Barclay, Ltd., company demonstrator
- One of six with this stunning sporting bodywork; period coachbuilt updates
- Known and prestigious ownership history; featured in many books
- Offered with Rolls-Royce Foundation and RREC Hunt House records
- A superb Phantom II Continental, in every important regard
One of the final Phantom II Continental chassis produced, chassis number 120SK was one of six bodied by H.J. Mulliner as a drophead sedanca coupe, using a variation on a design originally created by London dealer H.R. Owen for Mulliner’s competitor, J. Gurney Nutting. The elegant body featured superb close-coupled design, with the bodywork mounted well ahead of the rear axle, improving rear seat comfort while creating space for the style’s characteristic rear-mounted trunk, providing abundant space for extended European vacations – for which the Continental had been designed. When the usually side-mounted spare was relocated to the rear, as on this example, it freed the front fenders to be smooth, flowing, and gorgeous, accentuating the powerful length of the car. Surviving photographs of this car when new confirm that it was originally delivered in this form.
Importantly, the car was commissioned by London dealer Jack Barclay, whose badging still appears on the sills and was used as the Barclay demonstrator for several months. It was then delivered to its original owner, Sir Charles John Wilson, the 3rd Baron Nunburnholme, a British peer and frequent Barclay customer in good standing. Particular about his wants, as the landed gentry frequently are, he requested that the headlamp brackets be shortened, bringing them ¼-inch below the “shoulder” of the radiator, and that the floorboards of the car be unpainted! The car was also fitted with very comfortable and sporting adjustable front bucket seats, which remain today.
The origin of the lovely “pontoon”-style fenders, fitted today, remains unproven despite much research into their origins. A former owner claimed that Parisian Rolls-Royce agent Franco-Brittanic placed an order for the modifications to local coachbuilder Henri Chapron in 1938, although Franco-Brittanic’s archives record no such order; it has also been suggested that the fenders were the work of Henri Binder. They are certainly French in their style and are most definitely a coachbuilt addition “of the period,” having been on the car by the early 1950s, when it was owned by P.M. Gardner of Negeve, France. They flawlessly blend into the car’s lines, fully updating, modernizing, and, to many eyes, improving its appearance.
The car was subsequently sold into the United States, where, from 1957 until 1980, it was enjoyed by Frank Allen, a longtime Rolls-Royce Owners Club (RROC) member from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It was then acquired by its next long-term caretaker, beloved Rolls-Royce collector, enthusiastic tourer, and friend to many, the late Bob Barrymore of La Jolla, California. The Phantom II Continental remained with Mr. Barrymore at his untimely passing 10 years later and was well cared for by his family until its sale in 2002.
Following its sale by the Barrymore Estate, chassis number 120SK was cosmetically refinished, with new Mason’s Black and Pewter Grey paintwork in an exceptionally attractive color scheme, new leather upholstery, and a new canvas top and headliner, as well as refinished interior woodwork. Seldom driven since the completion of that work, it was mechanically and cosmetically freshened prior to its acquisition by Orin Smith as the final Rolls-Royce to join his renowned collection. Its interior exhibits only the lightest of wear and stretching; similarly, the body finish is still in very good condition, with only minor chips around shut lines, and the fit throughout is very nice as well. Further, the car is accompanied by complete road tools.
The car is well known and featured in several prominent books, including Raymond Gentile’s The Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental (p. 235), Andre Blaize’s The Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental (pp. 978–979), and Lawrence Dalton’s Those Elegant Rolls-Royce (p. 149). Further, it is accompanied by copies of the original build records and information on further ownership history, from the files of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club (Hunt House) and Rolls-Royce Foundation.
Phantom II Continentals in any guise are rare and desirable. To find one so beautifully intact is even more special; this example boasts excellent, long-term known history, with only a handful of caretakers in the last half-century, and retains its original engine, chassis, and body, with attractive period updates. Known, respected, and indisputably among the most attractive of its kind, it is an automobile guaranteed to turn heads on the Continent or when displayed on a show field, in the hands of a modern-day aristocrat.
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