1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Saloon

From its inception in 1904, Rolls Royce quickly distinguished itself as a hallmark of luxury, innovation, and engineering excellence. Renowned for setting the standard in automotive opulence, the marque's commitment to crafting "the best car in the world" has yielded a legacy of iconic models revered by royalty, celebrities, and discerning collectors globally.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Rolls Royce was at the forefront of a rapidly transforming automotive industry. 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 rear axle. Chassis number 26EX 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 60GX is a wonderful example of the Continental-spec Phantom II, fitted with Park Ward’s sublime Touring Saloon body #3494. The chassis was delivered to Park Ward & Co. on October 3, 1931, and was specified “Continental type chassis-as 26EX, for use in the U.K. and or Continental Touring”. Additionally, a note was added to the build sheet stating, “Special attention to be given to this chassis to ensure that it is a thoroughly good representation of its type.” Park Ward, though essentially a factory-backed coachbuilder, was renowned for its superiority and also built bodies for several other manufacturers, including Bentley and one of the six Bugatti Royales.

The exterior of this Phantom II Continental is a masterwork of refined design. The two-tone black and carmine paint creates a striking visual impact, accentuating the sleek, sweeping lines and iconic grille. The dual rear-mounted spares add to its sporting appeal, while the 144-inch wheelbase (short for an RR!) provides an exceptionally smooth ride, characteristic of Rolls Royce's commitment to comfort and refinement.

As expected, the beautifully restored passenger cabin is both spacious and comfortably appointed for all occupants. Park Ward’s attention to detail is unparalleled, with each element cleverly designed and placed. Trimmed in gorgeous maroon leather with restored burled walnut woodwork and polished metal accents, the interior cabin ensures a serene and indulgent experience for both driver and passengers.

Under the hood, the Phantom II Continental is powered by Rolls Royce’s robust 7.7-liter inline-six engine. A distinctive highlight of this chassis is part no. E 82168, a 5.0:1 compression ratio cylinder head, which offers a refined upgrade from the standard 4.75:1 compression ratio cylinder head. The powerplant delivers smooth, effortless performance, with ample torque available at low speeds. The advanced suspension system, featuring semi-elliptical springs and hydraulic shock absorbers, provides a ride quality that is both refined and responsive. The combination of power and handling makes the Phantom II Continental a joy to drive, whether navigating city streets or cruising along country roads.

60GX boasts a fascinating ownership history, beginning with its first owner, J. Sutcliffe-Pyman Esq, who placed the order for the car on December 8, 1930. A member of the esteemed Pyman Shipping family, Pyman was an avid collector who owned several Rolls Royce models throughout his life. Following Pyman, the car was acquired by Sir Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, a prominent figure known for his involvement in the brewing industry (yes that Guinness!), and his tenure as the Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Sir Rupert's son, Major Sir Arthur Onslow Edward Guinness, was the subsequent caretaker, continuing the legacy of distinguished ownership.

The car then passed through the hands of several British owners before making its way to America in 1967 under the ownership of Harry J Holden. A few more American owners looked after 60GX through the ‘60-70’s. In the 1980s, respected Phantom II restorer and expert, E. F. Butch Murphy, was contracted to restore 60GX. Despite the nearly forty-year-old restoration, the car has been fastidiously maintained since and still presents extremely well today.

60GX has been exhibited at Rolls-Royce Owners Club National Rolls-Royce judging meets, earning numerous accolades. In 1988, it won First in Class in the Phantom II class. The following year, it was awarded the Rolls-Royce of England Award which celebrates pre-War Best in Show. In 1990, 60GX received the Royce Memorial Award, Best of the Best in Show, a prestigious award for previous "Best of Show" winners at the National Judging meet. Arguably the crown jewel of 60GX’s achievements is its class placement at the 1994 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Placing second in Class H-2, High Horsepower Rolls-Royce, this truly speaks to the history and quality of the restoration this car boasts. In 1998, the car again won the Rolls-Royce of England Award. In addition to these achievements, 60GX has secured both Primary and Senior awards in CCCA judging.

The legacy of 60GX is marked by its storied past and the exquisite craftsmanship of Park Ward. This remarkable vehicle remains an iconic symbol of automotive luxury and elegance, continuing to captivate the hearts of car enthusiasts and collectors alike. This Phantom II Continental is a testament to Rolls Royce's unwavering commitment to excellence and its storied history as a maker of the world's finest automobiles. Owning such a vehicle is not just about possessing a piece of history; it's about experiencing the pinnacle of luxury and performance that has defined Rolls-Royce for over a century.

 

 

Offers Welcome and Trades Considered.

 

$279,500

Stock number 7728

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