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THE 1925 NEW PHANTOM was Rolls-Royce’s second 40/50 model, the first 40/50 coming to be known as the Silver Ghost after its 1907 demonstrator example. There have been successive Phantoms in the Rolls-Royce line, the Phantom II (introduced in 1929), the III (1936), the IV (1950), the V (1959), and the VI (1968). As detailed in George A. Oliver’s “Classic Car Profile No. 2,” the Rolls-Royce Phantom I had owners of special character. Here are tidbits gleaned from his article, part of Classic Car Profiles Nos. 1–24.
An American Banker. John Pierpoint “Jack” Morgan Jr. inherited a rich lifestyle from his father, J.P. Morgan Sr. Jack also became a philanthropist of note: In 1920, he gave his London residence, 14 Princes Gate, to the U.S. government for use as its embassy. In 1924, Jack transformed his father’s private library into New York City’s public Pierpont Morgan Library.
In 1929, Morgan was the original owner of this particular Phantom I. Like others of the company’s early products, only the chassis and mechanicals were produced by Rolls-Royce. Had his car been purchased in England, Morgan could have selected the coachbuilder from among Barker, Park Ward, Thrupp and Maberly, Mulliner, Hooper, and the Italian Zagato. Had it been produced in Rolls-Royce’s Springfield, Massachusetts, plant, another choice was Brewster & Co., owned by Rolls-Royce.
An English Automaker with OBE. Sir Frederick Henry Royce, 1st Baronet, was the titled founder of the firm. The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls, aviation pioneer, co-founded the firm, together with Claude Goodman Johnson, who described himself as the hyphen in the marque’s name.
On July 12, 1910, Charles Rolls, age 32, died in a crash of a Wright Flyer. An ailing Royce move to the south of France in 1911, his villa Le Canadel next to Claude Johnson’s. Johnson continued operation of the firm.
An Auto Enthusiast. Rolls-Royce always identified its engines’ horsepower as “adequate.” Profile author Oliver notes, “After all, not so many were capable of really high speeds in 1925 and the 75-80 m.p.h. maximum of a standard Phantom I was exceeded by few other cars of its day.”
For some enthusiasts, though, this was inadequate.
Oliver observes, “He contrived an extremely tidy arrangement of the blower and non-standard carburetors.”
An Automotive Engineer. Amherst Villiers was a British engineer, known these days for having supercharged James Bond’s 4 1/2-Litre Bentley.
Supercharging invokes parasitic loss in driving the blower. Amherst Villiers experimented with an auxiliary Austin 7 four-cylinder handling this chore.
A Schneider Trophy Lorry. The Schneider Trophy seaplane races were held 11 times between 1913 and 1931, the last two at Calshot on the south coast of England. Rolls-Royce R aero engines bested the competition both times, supported from the firm’s Derby factory, 185 miles north of Calshot.
Oliver writes, “During the 1931 Schneider Trophy air races, a Phantom I with truck body was used to carry Rolls-Royce aero-engines between Derby and Calshot at high—and certainly illegal—speeds.”
The Prince of Wales. Rolls-Royces have been popular with royals worldwide.
Of course, this isn’t the prince at the wheel. Recall, there’s a Bentley Drivers Club, but its counterpart is the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club. The difference is in more than the apostrophe. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019