Rolls Royce 40/50 Phantom II M2 Series Continental Touring Saloon by Mulliner

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Rolls Royce


40/50 Phantom II M2 Series Continental Touring Saloon by Mulliner





The Rolls-Royce Phantom II was the third and last of Rolls-Royce's 40/50hp models, replacing the New Phantom in 1929. It used an improved version of the Phantom I engine in an all-new chassis. A "Continental" version, with a short wheelbase and stiffer springs, was offered.

The Phantom II used a refinement of the Phantom I's 7.7 L (7,668 cc or 467.9 cu in) pushrod-OHV straight-6 engine with a new crossflow cylinder head. Unlike on previous 40/50hp models, the engine was bolted directly to the 4-speed manual transmission. Synchromesh was added on gears 3 and 4 in 1932 and on gear 2 in 1935. Power was transmitted to the rear wheels using an open driveshaft, a hypoid bevel final drive, and Hotchkiss drive, replacing the torque tube from a remotely mounted gearbox used on earlier 40/50hp models.

The chassis of the Phantom II was completely new. The front axle was mounted on semi-elliptical leaf springs as on earlier 40/50hp models, but the rear axle was now also mounted on semi-elliptical springs instead of cantilever springs. This, along with the drivetrain changes, allowed the frame to be lower than before, improving the handling. The 4-wheel servo-assisted brakes from the Phantom I were continued, and the Bijur centralized lubrication system from the Springfield-built Phantom I was included on all Phantom II chassis.

Springfield agreed to buy 200 left-drive Phantom IIs if the British factory would make all the improvements necessary for the US market. Derby agreed and went through a full experimental program to develop the improved Phantom II for the American market. Two experimental chassis were built at Derby – 24EX and 25EX. Both were tested in France, and then Ernest Hives, head of the Experimental Department, took 25EX to the US for evaluation there, arriving in October of 1930.

The result of the development program was a delightful car with an improved top speed, a lower chassis and quieter operation than the sophisticated Springfield-built Phantom I. In fact, the improvements inspired Derby to incorporate all of them (except left-hand drive) into all Phantom IIs, commencing with chassis JS1. The first deliveries of the left-drive Phantom II chassis began in the spring of 1931.

The Brewster coachworks was ready with its designs for the new Phantom II chassis when it arrived. While some of the designs were warmed-over Phantom I body styles, some were indeed fresh. The first of the new designs were represented by the Newport Town Car for traditional chauffeur-driven use and the Henley Roadster for the owner-driver. The contract for 200 left-drive cars from Derby was never fulfilled, but 116 were sold in North America and six more in Europe. While sales were limited, these cars are recognized among the most desirable of all Classic Era Rolls-Royces.

The standard wheelbase of the Phantom II was 150 inches (3,800 mm). A 144 inches (3,700 mm) short-wheelbase chassis was also available.

A total of 1,281 Phantom II chassis of all types were built.

All Phantom II rolling chassis were built at Rolls-Royce's factory in Derby. The factory in Springfield, Massachusetts was closed upon ending production of the US-market Phantom I in 1931. Two US-market series, AJS and AMS, were built at Derby.

Though the factory had ceased production, Rolls-Royce of America continued selling off its older chassis inventory in the thirties as well as taking orders to equip some 119 new 144-inch wheelbase Phantom II “Continental” (left-hand-drive) chassis imported from the U.K. All Rolls-Royce cars were to be fitted with custom bodies, in the U. S. mostly but not exclusively by its own Brewster, acquired in 1926. For American appeal, Brewster designs carried such traditional British names as Stratford, Piccadilly, Oxford, Pall Mall and Mayfair.

In 1933, Rolls-Royce filled orders for some 30 Phantom II motor cars. Brewster’s town car body types, where the chauffeur steers in the open, carried the names Huntington, Newport, Savoy and Keswick. Of 13 different models sold in 1933, the Newport was the most popular, with eight deliveries, including one to legendary millionaire playboy Tommy Manville

Only the chassis and mechanical parts were made by Rolls-Royce. The body was made and fitted by a coachbuilder selected by the owner. Some of the most famous coachbuilders who produced bodies for Rolls Royce cars are Park Ward, Thrupp & Maberly, Mulliner, Henley, and Hooper.

Royce had body designer Ivan Evernden build him a one-off short-wheelbase Phantom. Designated 26EX, the car had a tuned engine, five-leaf springs that were stiffer than standard and a Barker four-seat lightweight close-coupled saloon body painted with an artificial pearl lacquer made from ground herring scales. The sales department initially showed no interest in 26EX but, when Evernden returned to the office from the 1930 Biarritz Grand Concours d'Elegance, where 26EX had won the Grand Prix d'Honneur, he found that the sales department had already announced the new "Phantom II Continental Saloon", prepared a brochure for it, and costed it.

According to Evernden, neither he, Royce, nor the Rolls-Royce sales department had written specifications for the "Continental" model, although he and Royce had a clear specification in mind. Based on Evernden's writings and examination of company records, historian Ray Gentile determined that the common specifications of the Continental chassis were the short wheelbase and stiffer, five-leaf springs. By this definition, two hundred and eighty-one Continental Phantom II's were produced, including 125 left-hand drive versions.

Regarded as the two most important P-II Continentals are 20MS and 2SK, the only two P-II Continental Roadsters ever built. 20MS has been in a private Mid-Atlantic collection since 1989, 2SK, the Thrupp and Maberly Roadster once owned by Tyrone Power, was sold at auction in 2010.

The Carlton Carriage Company originated from a group of coachbuilding companies. The name of the original firm was Motor Car Industries; one partner began trading as the Kelvin Carriage Company in 1924 and changed its name to Carlton in 1926. The firm started displaying at the Olympia Motor Show in 1927 and moved from more conventional coachwork to the more sporting drophead and coupé de ville coachwork, for which it became known, with approximately 50 bodies mounted to Rolls-Royce chassis between 1927 and 1939. The Carlton drophead body was so successful that it was used on nine Phantom II chassis, with this being the only Continental. Other chassis adorned with the Carlton drophead included Bugatti and the Hispano-Suiza J-12, with many more coachbuilders “borrowing” Carlton’s design cues.

Hooper & Co. of London was established in 1807 in Haymarket. By 1904 they had opened their famous showrooms at 54 St. James Street, Piccadilly in London’s fashionable west end.

The firm was unique in that they held Royal Warrants from approximately 1920 until the firm closed its doors in the 1950s – indelibly associating Hooper coachwork with England’s Royal Family by providing bespoke automobiles through nine reigns of Kings & Queens of England. At one time or another, Hooper & Co. have had Royal Warrants granted by virtually every one of the crowned heads of Europe.

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