1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Touring Sedan
Rolls-Royce 1934 Phantom II Continental Touring Saloon by Park Ward
The Phantom II Continental was the last Rolls-Royce to be designed under the personal supervision of Henry Royce, before his death in 1933. As its name suggest, this new Rolls-Royce was intended for fast continental touring; indeed, in the 1930s there were few roads in Britain where its outstanding performance could safely be exploited to the full.
The Phantom II had been introduced in 1929 as a successor to the New Phantom (retrospectively Phantom I) with deliveries commencing in September of that year. Unlike its predecessor, which inherited its underpinnings from the preceding 40/50hp model, the Silver Ghost, the Phantom II employed an entirely new chassis laid out along the lines of that of the smaller 20hp Rolls-Royce. Built in two wheelbase lengths - 144" and 150" - this new low-slung frame, with its radiator set well back, enabled coachbuilders to body the car in the modern idiom, creating sleeker designs than the upright ones of the past.
The engine too had come in for extensive revision. The PI's cylinder dimensions and basic layout - two blocks of three cylinders, with an aluminium cylinder head common to both blocks - were retained, but the combustion chambers had been redesigned and the 'head was now of the cross-flow type, with inlet and exhaust manifolds on opposite sides. The magneto/coil dual ignition system remained the same as on the PI.
The result of these engine changes was greatly enhanced performance, particularly of the Continental model, and the ability to accommodate weightier coachwork. Designed around the short (144") Phantom II chassis and introduced in 1930, the Continental version was conceived as 'an enthusiastic owner driver's car', featuring revised rear suspension, a higher axle ratio and lowered steering column. By the end of production the magnificent Phantom II Continental was good for 95mph. 'Powerful, docile, delightfully easy to control and a thoroughbred, it behaves in a manner which is difficult to convey without seeming to over-praise,' declared The Motor after testing a PII Continental in March 1934.
Highly favoured by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day, getting off to a flying start when a pre-production model ('26EX') designed by Ivan Evernden and made by Barker & Co (Henry Royce's favourite coachbuilder) won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at the Biarritz Concours d'Elegance in September 1930.
Produced for a relatively short period, during which time only 281 examples were completed, the Phantom II Continental typically sold for around £2,500 (more in some cases), a quite staggering amount to ask for a motor car and equivalent to the cost of no fewer than six or seven average-priced houses in the UK at that time! The Continental's - necessarily wealthy - owners included such famous names as the racing drivers Sir Malcolm Campbell and Woolf Barnato, Prince Ali Khan, Princess Alexis Midvani, the Prince of Nepal, Lord Londesborough, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Roseberry, Lord Doverdale, Lionel de Rothschild, Anthony de Rothschild, the Maharaja of Bahawalpur, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, N S Gulbenkian and Noel Coward.
According to the original factory specifications, 8SK was equipped with dual sidemounted spare tires and fitted with an F-code steering box that provided a ratio for long distance touring. The body is the original Park Ward close-coupled touring saloon.
Originally delivered to E. Graham Guest of Edinburgh Scotland. 8-SK came to the USA around the late 1950's. After being owned by only a handful of owners from 1934 through 1970's the car was purchased and restored by Neil Kirkham, a well known Rolls-Royce owner in California. He showed the car at numerous Concour events taking top honors at the likes of Silverado, Hillsbourgh, and Best of Show at the Art Deco Concours. It also took a first in class at the R-R Nationals. This car would still show well and it drives perfect!!
E. Graham Guest 1934
G. Berners late 1930's - post war
Paddon Brothers Ltd. early 50's
Francis deBeixedon late 1950's - 1967
G. H. Mathers late 1967 - mid 1977
Neil Kirkham early 1978 - 1994
Peter Stylianos 1994- 2006
The car has been featured in the Flying Lady and Auto 7 and most recently in the new book by Andre Blaize Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental. Please see excerpts in our photo section.