Classic Beauty: 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II

Restraint and good taste are two character traits that normally go hand in hand. The original owner of this 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom certainly seemed to have plenty of good taste, but he may have been lacking a bit in the restraint department. Take a good look at all of the shiny external trim on this car, because that isn’t polished brass. Every piece of external trim is 24-karat gold plated, which would have made an already very expensive car even more so in 1931. The Phantom is now for sale, and the sale is part of a charity fundraiser. It is located in San Diego, California, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The price for the Phantom has been set at an eye-watering $1,450,000.

The Phantom rolled off the production line in Derby, England, in 1931. It would have been shipped from there to Brewster and Co. Coachbuilders in Long Island, New York. It was there that this beautiful deep maroon and black body was handcrafted and fitted to the car, and where all of those gold-plated trim pieces were also fitted. The work of Brewster’s even extended to removing the original radiator cowl and the Spirit of Ecstasy, so that both could be plated at the same time as the rest of the trim to ensure universal coverage and finish on all pieces. Today the car appears to be absolutely flawless, and it is a thing of extreme beauty and presence.

There are no photos of either the engine or interior, but it looks as though the interior is finished in cream and brown leather, while the timber is burled walnut. Rolls-Royce quality and attention to detail has always been second to none, and they demanded only the best from those who were charged with building the bodies and interiors of their cars. This extended to some fairly strict requirements regarding the leather. This could only be sourced from bulls, not cows. This was because cows in calf could develop stretch-marks, whereas bulls don’t. The leather also had to be sourced from areas with no mosquitoes, as the leather had to be free of any bites and marks, regardless of how small these might be. You would have to assume that given the asking price of the vehicle, that the interior condition would be very good. This Phantom has had a couple of star turns during its life. It was used by legendary Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson in a 1974 television special called “Paramount Presents.” You can see the car in the above photo. It also featured on center stage at the televised 1984 Miss USA pageant.

Mechanically, the phantom is powered by a 468ci straight-six engine, while the transmission is a 4-speed manual. This engine produces 120hp, but its real strength lies in the engine torque, which allows the car to accelerate effortlessly from low speed in higher gears. The owner doesn’t provide any information on how the car runs or drives, but you would have to hope that it accomplished both feats well.

Looking around the outside of this 1931 Phantom, the presentation of the car is nothing short of stunning. It is also worth considering the relative rarity of the car. The Phantom II was in production from 1929 until 1936. Its introduction was one of those great pieces of unfortunate timing, coinciding with the 1929 Stock Market Crash. This hurt sales figures, and one of the results of this was that only 112 left-hand drive Phantom II cars ever made it to the USA. This makes this car 1-of-112, but it is also 1 of only 2 cars that were delivered with the gold-plated trim. That makes this one very rare old lady.

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Comments

  1. Chevy Guy

    Ridiculous. All just to get you from point A to point B? Props to the owner for using it for charity though.

  2. Brakeservo

    Truth is they drive like a double clutching truck! And you better be small to fit the chauffeur’s compartment. I prefer the back – it’s grand. Yes, I was driven all about Seattle and Whidbey Island in one once and have driven others.

    Like 2
  3. Kenneth Carney

    Looks like one of those car-shaped transistor radios I used to see as a kid. Like this car, they too had gold plated trim on them. Started seeing them in the late ’60’s when some of my friends got them for Christmas. In fact, they were based on the roadster version of this very car! Later on, I bought the Monogram model
    kit of this same car. Boy, was it a job building that one. Took me 3 months to build it right. Nice to see the car that started it all. Great car for a portrait. Just might do it sometime.

  4. Coventrycat

    The grandmother to all those ridiculous Toyotas, Hondas, Lexus, and Infinitys with gold badges in the 90’s. Looks cheap, even if it is gold.

  5. Camaro Joe

    Brakeservo, I can’t imagine how people drove those things. I have a 1943 MB Jeep (obviously not quite a Rolls) that has the seat bolted to the floor (not adjustable) and I couldn’t get my foot on the brake pedal because my knee hit
    the underside of the steering wheel. I’m not considered “tall” at 5′ 11″. I got out the welder and moved the seat back until in hit the left rear wheel well, now I can “kind of” drive it safely. I guess in WWII the other option was walking, so they did what they had to do. But you’d think Rolls Royce could have done better in 1931 without the pressure of war.

  6. Solosolo ken tilly Member

    It would have been chauffeur driven so the owner would have made sure that his driver was a shortie.

  7. John Fitzgerald

    Goldfinger inspiration?

    • Peter

      Auric Goldfinger used a Phantom 3, V12. His car panels and accessories were all solid gold – no cheap plating! JB said in the movie it was a Phantom 3. If you look closely at the registration plates on Goldfinger’s car it is AU (with no other characters). This is the designation for the element on the Periodic Table for gold.

  8. Kenneth Carney

    Makes me wonder how Shirley MacClaine drove the Yellow Rolls Royce in 1964. I think that car was a 1925 Phantom I town car though. From what you say, who needs to go to the gym and work out when all you need to do is actually drive this car

  9. Hotroddaddy

    Love the car. Now let me check my Powerball numbers!

  10. Mountainwoodie

    Ah……restraint and good taste…….one thing in short supply of almost every aspect of our culture today. Kudos to Adam for such a fine intro.

    Contrast the use of gold plating here in the midst of the Great Depression for a vehicle only for the uber wealthy few, and the common place use of gold chains among a certain subset of contemporary rap artists. Whether or not this plating represents a lack of restraint is a matter of perspective. :)

    Consider that in 1934 Brewster built a similar looking limo based on Ford bodies and in basic form appear the same. The form was common to autos of the early thirties. The basic shape was very common post WW I.

    Since Rolls-Royce in Springfield went BK in 1934 or so, this vehicle represents an attempt to hold onto a demographic that could afford something like this in the middle of the worst economic depression since 1893.

    All that aside, this is one time where I applaud the ability of the very few to be able to purchase and maintain something like this. Without them, such a snapshot into the past would disappear.

  11. Francisco

    I think I had an Avon cologne bottle that looked like this.

  12. Dave

    “Rolls-Royce Phantom II! 4.3 litre, 30 horsepower, six cylinder engine with Stromberg downdraft carburetor, can go from zero to 100 kilometers an hour in 12.5 seconds. And I even like the color.”

  13. Ian

    ..can’t help wondering ig it has been in the USA all it’s life ?

    Shipped to Brewster etc I fully understand but how come it has a UK registration ?

    Furthermore – though it could be the original registration – but here in the UK a plate like that ‘defunct reg stock’ would lead people generally to think the number had been stripped by reg number dealers

    Is there any more history for this amazing car ? Thanks !!

  14. Brakeservo

    History of an old Rolls is easy to get. I suspect that there are more than a few people in the RROC who easily recognize the car.

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