1929 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Phantom I roadster
Rolls-Royce's 'single model' policy had proved to be an outstanding success for the company, but immediately after
the end of the Great War the recession in the motor trade prompted the introduction of a smaller, cheaper, 20hp car to be built alongside the existing 40/50hp Silver Ghost. Henry Royce's new design incorporated a number of modern features such as overhead valve-gear for its six-cylinder engine, a centre-change gearbox and 'Hotchkiss drive' rear axle, the advanced newcomer's arrival only serving to emphasise the Silver Ghost's Edwardian origins. However, the 45/50hp model would soon benefit from developments pioneered on its smaller sibling.
Long-awaited successor to the 'Ghost, the New Phantom arrived in 1925. 'After seven years of experiment and test, in the course of which no promising device had remained untried, the 45/50hp Phantom chassis emerged, and is offered to the public as the most suitable type possible for a mechanically propelled carriage under present-day conditions,' announced Rolls-Royce.
Retrospectively known as the Phantom I, the newcomer boasted an entirely new push-rod, overhead-valve, 7,688cc, six-cylinder engine with detachable cylinder head, a unit considerably more powerful than that of its Edwardian predecessor. The New Phantom, like the 20hp, adopted a disc-type clutch and adjustable radiator shutters; its chassis though, remained essentially the same as that of the later four-wheel-braked 'Ghost and would continue fundamentally unchanged until the arrival of the Phantom II in 1929 brought with it an entirely new frame. A total of 2,212 Phantom I chassis had left Rolls-Royce's UK factory by the time production ceased.
Chassis number '118KR' was completed in July 1929 with fixed-head coupé coachwork by Grose Ltd of Northampton. Its first owner was a Mrs H P Cross of Cottisbrooke Grange in Northamptonshire and the car was originally registered as 'RP 7753'. According to the accompanying document (form 13.20 A), the Rolls-Royce was imported into Switzerland on 20th February 1963. It was restored over the next couple of years, though the original body was in very poor condition and could not be saved. Only the wings could be repaired and have been retained. To replace the original, a 'woodie'-style roadster body was constructed, with two seats to the front and a single 'mother-in-law' seat at the rear.
Descriptions & pictures by bonhams & Wikimedia & flickr