From 1929 to 1935, the elegant Phantom II was Rolls-Royce’s top of the line model. It replaced the equivalent successful Phantom but was in fact an all-new car. It was a complete redesign. Except for the similar 7,668 inline 6-cylinder engine, everything was changed. The engine was the same but it was greatly improved using separate inlet ports, crossflow cylinder head, improved exhaust system and better compression ratio that increased the power output to 20 horsepower. The clutch and gearbox were also modified to improve the smoothness of the ride.
A Hotchkiss drive was attached to the hybrid rear axle that lowered the ride height. Coachbuilders enjoyed the lower ride which would look great with sporty and streamlined coachworks. With great performance and beautiful coachworks, the luxurious Phantom II sold really well despite its price. A total of 1,767 were made during its 7-year production run and during that time, Rolls-Royce continued to improve both the beauty and performance of the Phantom II.
Around the early 1920’s, Brazil’s president proposed to his rich friend Octavio Guinle to build a high-class beachfront hotel in Rio de Janeiro. Guinle liked the idea and asked French architect Joseph Gire to create a design for his luxurious hotel. The result is the famous Copacabana Palace that was built to serve the very best. World class celebrities, royalties, business tycoons, and the social elites are its frequent guest. By the late 1920s, the hotel was a huge success and Guinle wanted a new ride. His choices were no other than Rolls Royce’s top of the line model, the Phantom II. Guinle loved the French’s taste in beauty and turned his head to Henri Binder, a highly celebrated coachbuilder from Paris. Binder was known for creating top of the line coachwork with a very classical design. Binder’s coachworks are flawless in every detail and are usually mounted on large and sturdy chassis including Cadillac, Delage, and Minerva.
Binder even built the coachwork for one of the 6 grand Bugatti Type 41 Royales. Guinle’s Phantom II with chassis #103GY purchased via Oscar A. Cox & Co. from London and was immediately sent to Binder for the coachwork. The body was a drophead coupe design and was delivered to Rio after it was complete. Guinle owned the Phantom II until 1938. It was passed on through different owners including W.D. Radcliffe from Liverpool, B. Stinton Johnson from Stretton Hall, Cheshire, and Neil Tuson from London. Several years later, if arrived in America and became part of a handful of famous collections such as Bill Lassiter, the Imperial Palace Collection, and The Blackhawk Collection before finally making its way to Dr. Donald Vestley who had the Phantom II completely restored in 1986.
While the restoration was ongoing for 103GY, Dr. Vestley also owned another Phantom II with chassis #162SK. The 162SK was a bare chassis that has been completely restored. It is part of last Phantoms II models which means it is a more refined example. It originally had a Sedanca de Ville body built by Windovers but the body has long been missing. Dr. Vestley decided to mount the newly restored 103GY’s engine and coachwork unto the better long-wheelbase chassis of 162SK. The 162SK chassis featured a better suspension setup, improved lubrication, and better handling. The result was a beautiful Binder Drophead bodied Phantom II with a significantly improved driving experience.
At present, this Phantom II comes looks great in its black finish with a black cloth top. The exterior is adorned by a red pinstripe to match the beautiful red interior. The long Binder coachwork features sexy curves, a distinctive vertical rear body, and a Victoria-style roofing. The spare tire is mounted in the rear to keep the sides free from obstacles and making the body appear longer. A functional trunk is embedded in the back, tucked in the middle of the rear wings. The smooth curves of the body go really well with the black finish. It does have some signs of aging since it was restored in 1986 but still looks completely solid. The red interior still looks great even though it has some fading. The engine bay looks clean and everything is intact. The large 6-cylinder engine was rebuilt in 2000 and still works really well.
This is not the first time an early Rolls-Royce model received several coachworks during its lifetime but that makes this Phantom II interesting is the combination of its distinctive coachwork and a late model chassis. You simply can’t deny the beauty and elegance of this pre-war classic.
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