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40/50 Phantom I A2A Series Brouham de Ville by Clark & Son
Introduced in 1925, the Phantom I was Rolls-Royce's second 40/50hp model. To differentiate between the 40/50hp models, Rolls-Royce named the new model "New Phantom" and renamed the old model "Silver Ghost", which was the name given to their demonstration example, Registration No. AX201. When the New Phantom was replaced by another 40/50hp model in 1929, the replacement was named Phantom II and the New Phantom was renamed Phantom I.
One major improvement over the Silver Ghost was the new pushrod-OHV straight-6 engine. Constructed as three groups of two cylinders with detachable heads, the engine was described by Rolls-Royce as producing "sufficient" power. The engine used a 4¼ in (107.9 mm) bore and under square 5½ in (139.7 mm) stroke for a total of 7.7 L (7,668 cc (467.9 cu in)) of displacement. In 1928, the cylinder heads were upgraded from cast iron to aluminium; this caused corrosion problems. The separate gearbox connected through a rubberized fabric flexible coupling to the clutch and through a torque tube enclosed drive to the differential at rear, as in the Silver Ghost.
The New Phantom used the same frame as the Silver Ghost, with semi-elliptical springs suspending the front axle and cantilever springs suspending the rear axle. 4-wheel brakes with a servo-assistance system licensed from Hispano-Suiza were also specified, though some early US models lacked front brakes.
Like the Silver Ghost, the Phantom was constructed both at Rolls-Royces' Derby factory in the United Kingdom and at a factory in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States. The US factory produced Phantom Is from 1926 to 1931.
Most UK Phantom I's retained the fuel gauge at the tank, but some US models had one on the dash. The UK Phantom retained oil lubrication through Enots nipples, some times as many as 50, which attached to a special Enots oil pressure gun and needed to be attended to regularly at 500, 1000 and 2000 mile intervals, involving much time and effort. The US Phantom used a Bijur centralized oiling system which connected all the oiling points and oiled them with a stroke of a single pump.
Other differences between the US and UK models included available wheelbases and transmissions. Both versions were specified with the same 143½ in (3644.9 mm) standard wheelbase, but the UK long-wheelbase model was longer at 150½ (3822.7 mm) than the 146½ in (3721.1 mm) American version. UK models used a 4-speed transmission while US models used a centre change 3-speed transmission, both with a single dry-plate clutch.
Only the chassis and mechanical parts were made by Rolls-Royce. The body was made and fitted by a coachbuilder selected by the owner. Coachbuilders who produced bodies for Phantom I cars included Barker, Park Ward, Thrupp & Maberly, Mulliner and Hooper. American Phantoms could be bought with standardized bodies from Brewster & Co., which was owned by Rolls-Royce
Whilst the majority of Springfield Silver Ghosts had formal closed coachwork, the Rolls-Royce Custom Coach Work’s numerous contractors produced a series of spectacular open bodies as well. Amongst them was the Piccadilly Roadster, which was built under the RRCCW name by Merrimac Body Company, of Massachusetts. This fleet roadster was distinguished by its light and sporty lines, a jaunty fabric top, and a relatively small passenger compartment with a short tail, which was accentuated by the powerful length of the engine ahead.
Probably thirty-five Rolls-Royce New Phantoms were bodied by Hibbard & Darrin as American clients traveled to Europe for grand tours and picked up familiar Springfield Rolls-Royce chassis, or simply chose Hibbard & Darrin's designs to be constructed on Springfield chassis and shipped "in the white" from Paris to Brewster in Long Island City to be finished.
Established in 1926, Hibbard & Darrin was run by two Americans – Thomas Hibbard, a founder of LeBaron in New York, and Howard Darrin. Darrin, an inventor and entrepreneur from New Jersey, had met Hibbard in New York. Initially Hibbard & Darrin was a design house, with bodies actually built in Belgium by d’Ieteren or Van Den Plas. With capital from an investor, they opened a shop at Puteaux, on the northwest periphery of Paris, where they specialized in one-offs on Duesenberg, Hispano-Suiza, Mercedes-Benz, Packard and Stutz chassis. Their backer pulled out in 1931, whereupon Hibbard returned to the United States and Darrin stayed on to form Fernandez & Darrin with J. Fernandez, a South American-born banker.
The team of Hibbard & Darrin made its reputation with innovative coachwork details, but none is more distinctive than the Transformal Phaeton, a barrel-side design the firm called the torpedo phaeton. Composed of cast aluminum panels, the close-coupled body employed a Darrin-patented top with triangular fabric roof elements that snapped tightly to the B-pillar between trapezoidal rollup side windows and a fixed "dual-cowl" type center division. As adaptable as any coachwork of the classic period, Hibbard & Darrin's Transformal Phaeton could be fully open for a bright, sunny day, rolled up as the weather got more brisk and transformed into a buttoned-up fully enclosed sedan with formal aspects for meteorological catastrophe.
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