- From a prominent private Rolls-Royce collection
- A well-known and beautifully maintained Phantom II Continental
- Formerly of the 3rd Baron Cranworth and Sir William McAlpine collections
- Wonderful sporting proportions; a beautiful presence
- Documented history, including copies of its build records
120 bhp, 7,688 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine with single-jet semi-expanding carburettor, four-speed manual transmission, front and rear semi-elliptical leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,658 mm
Few automobiles have had their histories as vigorously documented and researched as Rolls-Royce, and that is especially true of the distinctive Phantom II Continental. It was arguably the greatest Rolls-Royce produced during the Classic Era by virtue of its short-wheelbase and performance-tuned chassis, dressed with some of the finest coachwork built in England during this period. Continental coachwork was distinguished by its sporty lines, even in formal styles such as the chauffeur-driven sedanca de ville, which accounted for only 10 of the 279 Continental chassis produced.
The car offered here, chassis 90MY, was bodied by the renowned London coachbuilders Barker, known for the exceptionally high quality of their work, and was originally delivered to Thornton B. Thornton, whom history records as a jute merchant in London. In his research, the current owner notes that this car is one of only two Phantom II Continentals built to similar specifications, with stainless steel fittings in place of the usual wood trim, the other being chassis number 72MS.
Subsequent owners were Rudolph DeTrafford OBE of Regent Park, a well-known British aristocrat and banker, and F.L.F. Parker of Skirwith Abbey, for whom it was his second Continental!
By 1967, the car had joined the private collection of Philip Bertram Gurdon, 3rd Baron Cranworth of Letton, where it remained for a further 16 years. When Baron Cranworth’s stable was dispersed in 1982, the car was stated to have recorded 36,374 miles. Thereafter, it became part of British construction baron Sir William McAlpine’s renowned collection, and under his long-term, fastidious 21-year ownership, was reportedly the subject of over £140,000 in restoration work, performed by the likes of Hofmanns of Henley, McKenzie-Guppy, and Alpine Eagle. It made a brief foray into feature film stardom during this time, appearing with Liam Neeson in the Simon Moore film Under Suspicion in 1991, and was the basis of a 1/43-scale Magia model by Giorgio d’Antonio.
Following its two decades of care by Sir William, the car was added to its present owner’s illustrious Rolls-Royce collection in 2003 and has been conscientiously maintained since. It presents beautifully in black with a lovingly tailored interior, featuring dark red upholstery to the driver’s seat and a rich complementary West of England cloth in the rear compartment. Significantly, the car also retains its original registration number, issued to it in 1933. It is thoroughly described in both of the tomes published on the Phantom II Continental by Raymond Gentile (p. 178) and André Blaize (pp. 425–429), yet it is also accompanied by copies of its Rolls-Royce build records and a bound collection of other documentation and photographs carefully assembled by the knowledgeable and caring present owner.
Relatively few examples of the sedanca de ville, perhaps the iconic body style for Rolls-Royce in this period, were built on the Continental chassis. The car shown here, by virtue of its excellent proportions, well-known history, and superb, well-documented presentation, can readily be counted among the finest.