Rolls-Royce Motor Cars marks the 118th anniversary of the first meeting between its founders, Henry Royce and The Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, England in 1904. You can find more visual details of the 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental gallery by scrolling up.
Through the combination of Royce’s engineering genius and Rolls’ talent for promotion, their company soon became recognised as the maker of ‘the best car in the world’ – a title that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars proudly retains more than a century later.
Today, the marque’s pinnacle product – Phantom – is the ultimate expression of Bespoke luxury designed and handmade at the Home of Rolls-Royce, Goodwood. As part of its annual reflections on its origins and unique heritage, Rolls-Royce looks back through Phantom’s lineage, exploring how its namesakes evolved over the years to remain consistently at the apex of the Rolls-Royce offering.
THE ORIGINS OF EXCELLENCE
In the automotive industry’s earliest days, luxury car makers produced only the mechanical components (engine, transmission, chassis and so on) known as a rolling chassis, which underpinned the car. The bodies were designed and constructed by independent coachbuilders to the customer’s specification.
For manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce, improvements in design and engineering were directed almost entirely towards technical aspects of the car’s performance. These included reliability, hill-climbing capability, ease of control and a set of ride quality attributes still known collectively as noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
From the outset, Phantom earned the title ‘the best car in the world’ through the superior quality and designs of the rolling chassis – the finest platform on which coachbuilders could reach the very apex of their craft.
REDRAWING TECHNICAL BOUNDARIES
The Phantom family was born in 1925 when Rolls-Royce launched Phantom I. With its massive low-range torque, cutting-edge technology and ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, the new model immediately established the fundamental traits that would define the family for the next 100 years. Then, as now, Rolls-Royce declined to rest on its laurels, and by 1929, its successor was ready for the market.
Phantom II represented another step-change in engineering and technology. In 1930, the company unveiled the Phantom II Continental, which gave customers a choice of a more performance-orientated model for those who preferred to drive themselves. The ‘standard’ longer-wheelbase car was retained for chauffeur-driven use. This practice set the precedent for today’s Phantom and Phantom Extended.
1933 Phantom II Continental (55MW)
This ‘concealed-head boat body’ was a speciality of coachbuilder Park Ward. Its main feature was the compact folding hood that, when fully retracted, was entirely concealed under the rear deck, giving the coachwork its distinctive uninterrupted line. The original upholstery was textured pigskin.
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