1936 Rolls Royce Phantom III Sedanca De Ville by Gurney Nutting (1936)




Although the Rolls-Royce Phantom II was without doubt an outstanding automobile, by the early Thirties its six cylinder prowess was being challenged by multi-cylinder cars such as the V12 Hispano Suiza and V16 Cadillac.  It was thus that Rolls-Royce introduced the all new Phantom III in late 1935.  Visually, the model was distinguishable from the Phantom II in having its radiator mounted forward rather than above the front axle, but beneath, the differences were manifold.

At its heart was a superb new and complex, overhead valve V12 alloy engine, of 7,338cc, with cast-iron liners, seven main bearings, hydraulic tappets, triple pressure lubrication system and twin coil ignition. Technically advanced and highly refined, it produced 165bhp at 3,000rpm with such ample torque that it was hardly necessary to use the four speed gearbox.  The new and immensely strong, box section chassis - with eight inch shorter wheelbase than the Phantom II and with built-in hydraulic jacks - also featured independent front suspension using coil springs immersed in an oil bath, while at the rear there were semi-elliptic leaf springs and an anti-roll bar.  The combination provided an unequalled level of road-holding and ride comfort for such a large luxury car, once again putting Rolls-Royce ahead of its few competitors.

Coachwork, as always, came from a variety of specialist builders, ranging from saloons and Sedancas to the rarer coupés and even two-seater tourers.  In this instance the choice was the flamboyant Gurney Nutting.  

The first Gurney Nutting designs made their appearance at the London Motor Show in October 1920.  In 1921 they displayed their 'all weather' body, the roof folded in the usual way but the great beauty of the arrangement was the side windows, they simply lowered into the doors.  After the Croydon premises were destroyed by fire during Easter 1923 the business was moved nearer their customers to the upmarket address of Elystan Street, off King's Road Chelsea, London SW3.  Here, in what had been an artists' colony, they established their remarkable reputation for creating sumptuous cars with panache, with apparently naturally balanced proportions which were beautifully executed.

The 1930s were the firm's greatest years.  Bodies were built to order on other chassis but mostly these were the years of the Rolls Royce and Bentley saloons, Coupés de Ville and Sedancas de Ville.  The proportions and always elegant, sweeping curves continued to feel instinctively right.  The pinnacle was the extremely stylish and handsome Sedanca De Ville, considered by many to be the most attractive and well-proportioned coachwork style fitted to a Phantom III.  

This wonderful example was ordered new by the Marquess of Queensbury on the 23rd November 1936 as a long-chassis type Phantom III, and was then sent to Gurney Nutting for the fitment of the Sedanca de Ville body.  At the same time some delightful Art Deco fixtures were added, to include the period fitting of the highly desirable Parlophone wireless set to the rear passenger compartment.

Later in its life the car was shipped to the United States, where it was in the long-term ownership of Mr. R.D. La Penta, President of the First National Bank.  Mr. La Penta also owned another Phantom III, a lovely Hooper-bodied saloon which is also included in this sale.  Together they were well known in Rolls Royce circles in the 1970s as “The La Penta Pair”.  Mr La Penta clearly cherished this car and as such entered it into Rolls Royce Owner’s Club National Concours events, winning outright in 1976.                

Now offered for sale for the first time in approximately 20 years, 3AX109 is very well presented in cream over caramel exterior, with a matching tan leather interior.  This stunning car is highly original and is supplied with its original, complete and comprehensive tool kit, fitted in a tray which is mounted in the boot.

In addition this beautiful motor car will be offered with copies of the original build and test sheets, order card, maintenance data sheets, correspondence, current UK MoT and UK V5 registration document.

All in all this is a one-off opportunity to acquire and striking and unique Rolls-Royce.  Without doubt a car for the true connoisseur of Great Britain’s most famous and revered marque.

This car is going under the hammer at Coys forthcoming Auction – at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire on Saturday 26th April 2014. Please contact the auction department for more details on 00442086147888

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  • Mileage: 123
  • Year: 1936
  • Doors: 4
  • Body type: Other
  • Transmission type: Manual
  • Fuel type: Petrol
  • Colour: Cream

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