Announced in 1929, the Phantom II continued the tradition of excellence set by the New Phantom and Silver Ghost before it and served as Rolls-Royce's flagship model for six years. Central to the Phantom II was the 7,668cc six-cylinder engine that, while related to the Phantom I unit, shared little more than the bore & stroke dimensions. Key developments included a crossflow cylinder head, separate inlet ports, improved exhaust manifolds, and higher compression, which amounted to an increase of approximately twenty horsepower. Of course, Rolls-Royce never boasted about power output; instead, letting the car's unparalleled refinement do the talking. A revised chassis and driveline complemented the new engine, delivering improved handling, ride quality, and a lower floor line - much to the delight of coachbuilders who could now fit lower and sleeker bodies at the behest of their clients. Rolls-Royce produced 1,681 Phantom II chassis, an impressive figure when considering the economic conditions of the early 1930s.
While developing the Phantom II in the South of France, Sir Henry Royce envisioned a Rolls-Royce that could handle the unique demands of continuous high-speed driving to which customers on the European Continent were accustomed. With assistance from engineer Ivan Evernden, Royce created a sporting version of the Phantom II, featuring a shortened chassis, higher spring rates, a lowered floor, a raked steering column, and a taller 12/41 rear axle ratio. Chassis number 26-EX was the first such car constructed and was fitted with stunning close-coupled Saloon coachwork by Barker & Co. explicitly designed for the rigors of high-speed motoring. The car won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at the Concours d'Elegance of Biarritz, and inspired a limited series production of similar sporting chassis, dubbed Continental.
Curiously, Rolls-Royce did not have an exact written specification for the Continental chassis modifications, nor were the cars branded as such. Rolls-Royce even fitted a few long-wheelbase cars with lower, sporting coachwork, which the factory designated "Continental-type." Researchers have determined that RR built 281 Phantom II Continental chassis, accounting for just 17% of total production.
Chassis number 42-GX is an early Continental-spec Phantom II, the 8th produced and the second to feature Barker coachwork. It was ordered by Capt. J.F.C. Kruse, a well-heeled English gentleman with a penchant for fine automobiles, kept garaged as his sprawling Sunning House estate. He was a V.I.P. Rolls-Royce customer, having owned numerous magnificent examples of the marque. Capt. Kruse was known for his refined taste in European sporting cars, his stable containing several Alfa Romeos, racing Bentleys, a Lancia Dilambda, Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz, and a Phantom I modified by Villiers with a supercharged engine! He was quite vocal in his opinion that the British did not offer a sporting car that could hold a candle to the likes of the Europeans, sparking a vigorous debate in the pages of The Motor.
Given Captain Jack Kruse's importance to Rolls-Royce, the firm was quick to offer him one of the new, updated Continental-specification Phantom II chassis to challenge his opinion on British performance automobiles. On the 9th of October, 1930, the order was placed for Chassis 42-GX, a Phantom II built to short-chassis Continental specifications. The build sheet lists Capt. Jack Kruse as the customer and specifies it as a "Continental-type chassis, identical to 26-EX." Kruse had a long-standing relationship with Barker & Co. coachbuilders, as they supplied bodies for many of his cars, including all of his Rolls-Royces and his Lancia. The completed chassis was delivered to Barker's Willesden workshops on the 12th of December, 1930, to receive the appropriately sporty two-door drophead coupe coachwork, highlighted by elegant clamshell fenders, a louvered bonnet, twin rear-mounted spares, and a fully folding soft top. Barker was known for its quality construction, with a distinct restrained elegance to its designs, which shine through on this stunning automobile.
Kruse was undoubtedly pleased with his latest acquisition, as he reported in a letter to The Motor that it "had more direct steering" and that "… the present model unquestionably is the equal of any large sports car made today." However, aside from his well-published appetite for cars, Captain Kruse was also known to have a short attention span for his vehicles. After about six months with 42-GX, he sold it to fellow sportsman R.H.W. Jacques, Esq. of Piccadilly. In 1932, Jacques entered the 42-GX in the R.A.C. 1000 mile rally, and the following year he teamed up with Margaret Allen to contest the 1933 Monte Carlo Rally. Ms. Allen was one of the best-known female motor racers of her time and one of only four women to hold a 120 mph Brooklands badge. Despite running the event in an unlikely, and arguably outclassed vehicle, the pair performed well to finish 30th from 71 entries, highlighting their skill as rallyists and the impressive ability of the Phantom II.
Experts believe Mr. Jacques retained 42-GX until his death, as the next registered owner was Thomas Neale in 1950. It transferred to the Wilkinson family in 1955, who kept it until 1968, when it was sold to Samuel Alder. In 1997, a comprehensive overhaul took place when the car showed 83,000 miles. It was stripped to a bare chassis and rebuilt from the ground up. The original matching-numbers engine was re-sleeved and bored, fitted with new pistons, a freshened cylinder head, and more. The gearbox showed almost no wear at the time, requiring only a minor service. Restorers rebuilt the rear axle with a new 3.09:1 gear set, ensuring the car is now impressively long-legged. After the initial restoration, 42-GX lived a relatively quiet life until it came into the care of an enthusiastic owner who decided it would be best to enjoy this exceptional motor 'as intended.'
The new owner thoroughly planned and prepared 42-GX for one of the world's toughest classic car rallies – the 2013 edition of the grueling 12,247-kilometer Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. Their epic adventure is well documented in an accompanying book, which reveals the extent of the thoughtful preparation and the Rolls-Royce's ability to take such a punishing event in stride, with minimal breakdowns, resulting in a 14th in Class and 30th Overall finish.
As a reward for seeing its owners safely across the Eurasian continent, the car was treated to a thorough freshening and mechanical overhaul. With the body off the chassis, the original engine (no. DH95), original gearbox, and chassis components were rebuilt as necessary after the rally and meticulously documented with hundreds of photos. The body was refinished in its present livery, and the red leather interior freshened with rebuilt seat frames and padding. In early 2022, respected marque specialists Fiennes Engineering supplied a replacement cylinder head fitted at considerable expense, ensuring the car is ready to continue its legacy of reliable, high-speed motoring joy.
Today, 42-GX is presented in fabulous condition, with the restoration displaying an appealing, road-ready character. The low-slung Barker design is exquisitely proportioned, with a distinctly purposeful attitude thanks to the black and green livery, subtle red coachlines, striking red leather trim, black wheels, and twin rear-mounted spares. It is in superb mechanical condition and is ready for virtually any adventure its next custodian wishes to take it on. Accompanying the sale is an extensive history binder containing period photographs, complete build records, ownership history, and extensive photographs of the Peking-Paris rally and subsequent restoration.
Businesslike, purposeful, and eminently appealing, this massively desirable PII Continental exemplifies all that is great about pre-war sporting automobiles.
Offers welcome and trades considered