Rolls-Royce Phantom III

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Rolls-Royce Phantom III

0 – 60 16.8 seconds.

1937 Phantom III with close coupled sedanca de ville coachwork

by Hooper.

Two tone finish to the wings, the spats on the rear wings

and the chrome embellishments are all unusual features

The Chassis reproduced from the sales catalogue for the Phantom III

In October 1935 the new Rolls-Royce Phantom III complete with V12 engine, was seen for the first time at the London Olympia Motor Show. On the Rolls-Royce stand and on the stands of leading coachbuilders no less than 9 Phantom III’s were displayed. Visitors to

the show were not to know that eight of these were dummy chassis, with no engines fitted. Production of other than experimental cars was such that no production cars reached the road until May 1936.

With the production of the new car, the highest position in the top level of motor car manufacture was achieved once again. This position was to be as dominant as it had been during the era of the Silver Ghost.

Almost inaudible and free from vibrations, the engine revved up from any level and accelerated with an energy that seemed to be unimpaired by the weight and dimensions of the big automobile. At a time when most other companies fought a constant battle against blithe unconcern demonstrated by demanding designers, Rolls-Royce continued to let

theirs work regardless of expense.

It was not long after delivery of the first Phantom IIIs that complaints started to be received from owners who were using their cars as serious high speed tourers. The new German autobahnen and Italian autostrade offered stretches of road which permitted any driver to travel at top speed for long distances and for extended periods. These conditions

were ones that could not have been visualised by designers when they were planning the

new cars of the time, and they resulted in heat-related failure of the engines.

Rolls-Royce could not avoid facing the problem because many of these new cars had been exported to the mainland of Europe and owners from Great Britain also drove on these new highways during their continental tours. As a result owners were strictly advised that the Phantom III allowed a top speed of no more than 75-80 mph to be maintained continuously without risk of engine failure, higher speeds would only be tolerated for shorter distances.

The response to the solicitous warning was not received in the spirit in which it was given. Several quarters reproached Rolls-Royce for admitting that the car publicised as the best car in the world was technically imperfect. To overcome this probelm, in 1938 a modification was introduced in the form of what was referred to as an overdrive – in fact only a fourthgear of higher ratio than hitherto – which reduced engine speed to less damaging levels.

Despite their best efforts, the Phantom III remained dogged by stories of technical complications. Repair after failure cost such enormous amounts that even wealthy owners noticed the expenditure. This is undoubtedly why Rolls-Royce did not achieve the hoped for success for the model, only 727 Phantom IIIs being manufactured.

Outside the United Kingdom only 173 of these were sold. Of these 65 examples went to what should have been a large American market; this was twice as much as France, where 32 Phantom IIIs were sent, although not all of these remained in that country.

A check through the chassis cards of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club shows that customers for Phantom III were usually elderly; the buyers’ average age was more than sixty. Those cars which were ordered for use at official state occasions, as State Limousines, for example, are not included. Beside the shortcomings mentioned above, a further reason

for the sluggish sales might have been that the big Rolls-Royce built up a reputation as a

proper means of transport only for the old and the rich.

Today, the earlier view has been replaced, the Phantom III being held in very great esteem as an engineering creation. More than 80 per cent of the Phantom IIIs built have survived and this car is considered amongst the most sought after of all the Rolls-Royces. Thanks to the activities of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd in England and the USA based Rolls-Royce

Phantom III Technical Society continued use of these cars in the intended manner is now assured. Needless to say, as was the case when the cars were new, Phantom III owners need to be amongst the better heeled!

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