1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III All-Weather Tourer by H.J. Mulliner

Sold For $396,000

Amelia Island - A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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  • Known ownership history since new; unique, beautiful coachwork
  • Multiple international Best in Class victories, including Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este
  • Spectacular restoration by marque specialists; a wonderful presence
  • The only Phantom III originally registered in Ireland
  • One of the finest examples of its type available
165 bhp, 7,340 cc OHV V-12 engine with dual ignition, separate four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension by coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-operated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142 in.

Phantom III chassis number 3DL56 was the only example of this model originally registered in Ireland. Its first owner was Dr. William Lombard Murphy, son and heir of famed Irish industrialist William Martin Murphy, himself a skilled physician, newspaper publisher, and part owner of a department store. Dr. Murphy took delivery of the car on 5 November 1938, and retained ownership of it until July of 1948, when he is understood to have traded it in on a newer model.

Second owner R.H. Gregory of London purchased the car soon thereafter, and finding the original Hooper limousine coachwork rather ungainly, commissioned H.J. Mulliner to build a new body with more modern styling. The result was the present all-weather cabriolet, number 5149, an exceptionally elegant design based upon the body Mulliner crafted for General Franco’s Phantom IV, with covered side-mounted spares, long flowing fenders, and partial “spats,” as well as a Hooper-style “turtle deck” rear. The new coachwork tripled the price paid by Mr. Gregory for the used Phantom III chassis, and it was a remarkable achievement in an era of post-war austerity measures!

Mr. Gregory retained the Phantom III for six years before himself “trading up,” to a new Bentley S1 Continental at the Jack Barclay salesroom in London. The car was subsequently sold by Jack Barclay on 6 May 1955, to its last British owner, Arthur Tolton, a well-known Rolls and Bentley enthusiast, who maintained it at his home on the Isle of Wight.

Longtime American Rolls-Royce connoisseur Frank G. Allen Jr., of Boston, purchased the car from Mr. Tolton on 13 January 1957 and imported it to the United States. It would remain in the Allen collection until 1980, then was sold to land developer Haig Yardumian. Still mostly original and unrestored, the car was kept by Mr. Yardumian for nearly a quarter of a century, then was sold in 2003 to its sixth owner, J.W. Millegan of Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Restoration of the car was begun in England by the renowned shop of P&A Wood, which prepared it for the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club Annual Event and a tour of the English countryside in 2005. Afterward the car was shipped to the United States and won its class at the RROC Annual Meet, even before the restoration was completed! Work was then handed over to Bob Lorkowski of L’Cars in Cameron, Wisconsin, which completely dismantled and stripped the coachwork, properly made any necessary repairs, primed, and finished it in beautiful soft metallic pewter grey, believed to be the original color. The interior’s woodwork was refinished, the upholstery re-done in beautiful grey leather, and the soft top replaced. All hardware was disassembled and properly refinished, including new plating throughout. Further, the engine was completely rebuilt.

Mr. Millegan exhibited the car at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning Best in Class; at the 2007 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, winning Most Sensitive Restoration as chosen by the jury, and receiving its FIVA A-3 designation; and the 2007 RREC Annual Meeting, where it won 1st in Class and the Phantom III Trophy. Soon thereafter it was passed into Orin Smith’s good care and has remained much-enjoyed within his collection ever since, including an Excellence in Class at Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-a-Lago in 2014.

The car is beautiful and attractive with either the top up or down, and its finishes throughout are well preserved and in fact still concours-worthy, including stunning paintwork and a tight, crisp interior. It is equipped with correct Lucas P100 headlamps, fender lamps, and center driving light, as well as additional rear fender lamps added for touring safety in the early post-war period, while the wheels are covered with body-color Ace discs. The interior, decorated in rame and beautiful flame walnut, sports capacious jump seats for up to three additional passengers, as well as a division glass that can serve as a windbreak with the top down, all as-original. The dual trumpet Lucas Twin-Tone Wind Tone horns are era-correct, as are the heater and the radio under the dashboard at the right of the steering column.

The engine compartment is tidy and correct, with most of the road tools stowed in brackets on the firewall and inner fender bracing; the balance, along with an impressive set of hand tools, are fitted in a tray under the front seat. An interesting feature are built-in hydraulic jacks, in both the front and rear, operated by a hand pump under the passenger side of the front seat.

An exceptional Phantom III and likely the finest example available today, this car is worthy of any distinguished collection and concours field.

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