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Lot 4

1937 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM III BARKER SEDANCA DE VILLE

Registration Number: PL 452
Chassis Number: 3BT17
Engine Number: Q78L

Estimate: £130,000 - £160,000
Bidding ended. Lot is unsold.

‘The most carefully constructed, the most silent, the most big, the most effortless, the most durable, the most good-looking. Above all, it was the most regardless-of-cost of all Rolls’. Motorsport Magazine.

When unveiled at the 1935 Motor Show at Olympia, many believed the Rolls-Royce Phantom III to be the best car ever made. Only the grandest Rolls-Royces were branded Phantoms, and they were sold at a super-premium price. The final car produced by Rolls Royce before the war and the last car that Henry Royce worked on, the Phantom III stands as a statement of both luxury and technological advancement.

Key to the success of the Phantom III was the massive V12 power plant. Rolls-Royce utilised innovations gained from their experiences with aeroplane engines, notably the record breaking S6B Seaplane. Employing advanced techniques and materials, the Phantom engine could produce between 165 and 180bhp. This resulted in a top speed of 90-100mph, incredibly impressive considering the weight of luxury attached to each car. Moreover, these were the first Rolls to operate with independent front suspension.

Designed to be the zenith of luxury, each of the 729 Phantom III’s to be produced were individually custom built. This example is one of only 19 Sedanca de Ville versions produced by the greatly revered Barker coachbuilders. In 1903, Rolls-Royce stated that Barker were the “preferred coach builder” for their motorcars, most appropriate considering their past role outfitting coaches for the Royal family. In 1938 Barker were taken over by Hooper, making 3BT17 one of the last cars to be assembled by these prodigious coachbuilders. Among the original specifications for this rare Sedanca de Ville are a retractable roof for the driver and a fixed roof for the rear, covering a sofa seat clad in traditional West of England cloth. Also specified was the louvred body and fine Marchal headlamps from Paris, each fitment stylishly preparing the car for warm long trips to the continent. The car is exceptionally outfitted with the finest polished burr walnut door panels and dashboard, as well as a rather unique full-sized pull up picnic table in the rear. Stepping in as a passenger is like going back to a lost age of chauffeur-driven luxury.

This Phantom III has a well-documented and interesting history, maintaining its original registration throughout its entire life with matching engine, chassis and body numbers as assembled in production. 3BT17 was first delivered to Mr C F Bernhard of Grosvenor House, London, whose chauffeur, A D Ross, was put through the Rolls-Royce school of instruction. In 1962, the car passed to Bill Klein, a US-based Rolls-Royce fanatic. After spending a few years in the States, 3BT17 was then sold to a Mr M Lasky of Australia. In 1996 the Phantom was owned by prestigious automotive businessman Izzie Herzog; under his supervision, with no expense spared, a back-to-the-metal restoration project was undertaken. The work was carried out by Des Higgins Motors, an authorised and highly regarded Rolls-Royce specialist. The restorations included all coach work being stripped and precisely refinished in Green and Black. The interior was also sympathetically retrimmed, to the exceptional standard we see today. This expertly conducted project showed great respect to the cars originality and granted this stunning Phantom further longevity.

In 2004 the car was sold to our current London-based vendor, a true Rolls -Royce devotee, who undertook a substantial mechanical restoration. Over the last few years more than £80,000 has been spent getting this car to near concours condition. This included a full engine rebuild in 2016; encompassing all 12 cylinder liners, cylinder heads, pistons, valves and seals. In addition, a new rear axle, radiator core, exhaust system and Bosch ignition upgrade were installed, and both the clutch and steering box were overhauled. All of the instrument panel lettering has been detailed in sharp white and there are fine gold coach lines, painted with an exceptionally steady hand. The headlamps were even re-silvered in 2020. All of this work is evidenced with invoices. With barely 1,000 miles driven since this major overhaul, the restored engine has only just been broken in and is ready for grand touring. This work was primarily carried out by the well-respected Bruce Thompson, with original parts supplied by the late specialist John Little. Bruce is available for consultation by interested parties.

Rewards for the quality and stateliness of this car’s appearance include the Trophy of Elegance in the South of England RREC Rally, and first prize in the Phantom III Touring section of the RREC Annual National Rally. Moreover, you are rewarded every time you drive, or are driven, in this car.

The Barker Phantom III Sedanca de Ville is famous world over as the car driven by perhaps pop culture’s most infamous chauffeur, Oddjob, in the classic Goldfinger James Bond. No other car could be as appropriate for such a lavish and practical remit, the smuggling of gold across the Alps. Other owners of the Phantom III included Dukes and Duchesses, Titans of Industry and Monarchs from across the globe. This was a car that cost more than a fine house at the time of its release. Only the Phantom III carries presence of the sort that both Royalty and Bond villains maintain.

The car comes with the original 1930s handbook, a photo book covering its 1990’s restoration in Australia, full ownership history and original build records, as well as restoration invoices and service records from 2004 onwards.

This car is a true statement of British engineering and design class. It has been restored to its full glory and is now ready to offer a proud new owner many years of grand touring adventures. 

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