Amelia Island | Lot 214
1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Close-Coupled Saloon by Barker
Offered from the Leon-Hackney Collection
$190,400 USD | Sold
| Amelia Island, Florida
9 March 2019
- Offered from the Leon-Hackney Collection
- Formerly owned by Hollywood legend Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
- Highly sporting, one-off coachwork, with numerous unique features
- Original chassis, engine, and body, as-delivered in 1934
- A prized centerpiece of the collection since 1978
- Multiple national award-winning restoration in the original colors
- One of the finest Phantom II Continentals available in recent memory
Hugh Tevis Jr. was part of the expatriate “Lost Generation” of wealthy young Americans who fled overseas in the 1920s. Tevis settled in Wynberg, South Africa, where he established a winery and devoted his attentions to women and cars. He particularly favored Rolls-Royces and in 1934 placed an order for the Phantom II Continental, an ideal selection for South Africa; it was not only a high-performance machine, but also notably durable, rugged, and reliable, and Rolls-Royce had service facilities all over the world to answer to any needs.
Barker, the leading London coachbuilders to Royalty, mounted a highly sporting and dramatic “close-coupled saloon” body, with a roofline that plunged around the canvas-covered fixed top, and sensuously curved front fenders that exaggerated the length of the hoodline. Tevis specified the body be finished in two shades of pale beige, with larger Bentley ‘pie plate’ instruments with blue faces, a steering column three inches longer than standard, Ace wheel discs, Marchal headlamps, tinted ‘purdah’ window glass, and silk window shades in the doors. The result was, needless to say, a showstopper.
Ironically, Tevis seems to have never taken his Continental out of England. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., the well-known scion of an American acting dynasty and ex-husband of Joan Crawford, bought the car for use in London in 1937, where it remained. Later the car was acquired by Commander P. Howes, an assistant to Lord Mountbatten, whom it accompanied in his service in India, before returning to England and sold to J. Graham of Farnham, Surrey, in 1951.
David Neal bought the car from Mascot Motors of London in the 1950s and took the car to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). There it was eventually owned by the Wright brothers, who refinished the car and rebuilt it mechanically. It was then sold in 1973 to Obe Veldman, who was emigrating from Rhodesia to the U.S.; unable to take his life savings with him as currency, he bought four pre-war Rolls-Royces, including chassis no. 83PY, and took them with him, figuring that he could sell them profitably upon arrival. This he did, and in 1976 the Continental was acquired from Veldman by Jay and Berta Leon; in the 1990 book The Classic Car, Jay Leon noted that at the time, the car still wore its Zimbabwean registration plates.
The Leons oversaw a painstaking and authentic restoration, including correspondence with many UK historians and coachbuilders regarding correct finishes, and recreating the original color and trim scheme, as well as the original registration plates. The level of detail extended to recreating silk door pulls and other hardware from scratch, ensuring that every nut and bolt would be correct and authentic.
Following the restoration, the Continental appeared twice at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in 1986 and 2000, and achieved Senior status in the Classic Car Club of America, badge no. 1509; it also won the CCCA Award at the Rolls-Royce/Bentley Experience in June 1988. The car was featured not only in The Classic Car, but also in Ray Gentile’s The Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental (p. 220) and Andre Blaize’s The Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental (pp. 779–781). It is accompanied today by a large and comprehensive file of correspondence and documentation accumulated by Jay Leon during the restoration, including letters between Leon and such authorities as John Fasal, and even hand drawings of various parts.
When Jay and Berta Leon were featured with their automobiles in the 1983 issue of The Classic Car, authors Betty and Hubert Cook described the couple’s stable as “one of the most selective Classic car collections in the country . . . exemplified by the fact that each and every car is an outstanding model of the ‘best’ that marque ever produced.”
No car from the collection is exemplified as much as this Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental, a car that has been one of the centerpieces of the Leon-Hackney Collection for over 40 years. It combines the best chassis with the finest sporting bodywork and a wonderful, colorful history, to create a Continental that stands tall even among its illustrious peers.