1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca DeVille

Powered by a sophisticated overhead valve V-12 engine that owed much to Rolls-Royce's aero engine experience, the Phantom III was the ultimate luxury Rolls-Royce. Produced for only a few years at the end of the Thirties, from 1936 through 1939, it appealed to heads of state, ruling royalty and the unassailably wealthy who never even noticed the Great Depression. The immense engine displaces 470 cubic inches and makes, like all Rolls-Royces, "adequate" power, probably well in excess of 200 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. The engine was carefully thought out, with covers and accessories that are cleanly designed, painted and polished to emphasize the elegance of the whole Phantom III design. Suspension is independent at the front with a live rear axle at the rear, riding on 18" wheels. Only 710 were built and they received the most elaborate, opulent, exotic coachwork. One of the most extravagant is this exquisite Sedanca deVille by Gurney Nutting. It was a surprising commission for the coachbuilder, which is better known for its sports sedans and coupes, but some of the rakish, sporting lines that characterized Gurney Nutting's other work are reflected in this formal coachwork and contribute to its appeal and presence. Another important distinction is that the first owner provided for only two occupants in the rear compartment, exclusivity that is rare in a formal town car of this style. The chauffeur and footman in the front seat are protected by a rigid cover (a tendelet) that slides back into the fixed rear roof. Finished in two shades of maroon that highlight the sweeping lines of the coachwork, it also has unusual applied canework decoration to the rear doors. Rear wheel spats are notched to display the centers of the wheels which wear full polished covers and mount wide whitewall tires. A set of free-standing Lucas headlights and a single driving light accent the formal Rolls-Royce radiator. Marker lights and mirrors are mounted on the front fenders. It is in the interior where Gurney Nutting's designers and craftsmen displayed their skills and access to the finest materials. The woodwork is amazing, both in its elaborate graining and figure and in its brilliant high gloss finish. There are wooden assist handles, tray tables, vanities, mirrors and a bar in the center of the divider partition with crystal fittings. It is simply amazing. Restored specifically for Concours display, it has been a consistent winner throughout the United States where its visual impact and crowd-pleasing opulence have made it an unforgettable presence. It deserves, and will stand up to, the closest examination not only to confirm its meticulously restored and maintained condition but also to reveal its many intricate and thoughtful details. No one will ever walk by this Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca deVille by Gurney Nutting without remarking upon it.

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