1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Torpedo Tourer
Rolls-Royce 1929 Phantom II Torpedo Tourer by Barker
7,668 CC OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Updraft Carburetor
120 BHP at 3,000 RPM
4-Speed Synchromesh Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes
Solid Axles and Semi-Elliptical Leaf-Spring Front and Rear Suspension
In the years before WWII, Rolls-Royce depended upon a clientele that included some of the most powerful and illustrious individuals. However, many of the automobiles delivered to these customers were rather conservative in their appearance and lifestyle. Some of the most memorable Rolls-Royce creations were not delivered to Europe or the US, but were custom ordered by the extraordinarily wealthy and glamorous Maharajas of the colonial subcontinent, many of who were the company's most loyal and consistent patrons. The striking Phantom II presented here is one of these fabulous Indian Phantoms and chassis 50XJ was originally ordered to suit the needs and tastes of the Ruling Chief of Nandgaon.
Rolls-Royce factory records indicate that this Phantom displays an “On Test” date of June 1929, and specifies a long-type chassis, louvered bonnet and open Torpedo bodywork by Barker & Co., with a variety of explicit requests regarding the trim, ornamentation and finishes. Colors: Body Indigo blue and bonnet Ivory (Cellulose), chassis black, wheels wings, and petrol tank Nile blue. Upholstery: Gray-blue leather. The steering wheel and controls were ordered in Nile Blue, the control panel was to be finished in nickel with distinctive blue lettering and the instrument bezels were specified in Gold color and Nile Blue.
Beyond this, the order called for a Tapley gradient meter, North clock and various Elliot instruments; polished nickel radiator shutters and luggage grid; a nickel-plated Cobra horn and bracket; and one pair of Barker semi-rotary dippers for the gleaming Lucas P100 headlamps. Other accessories included running board-mounted tool trays, dual side-mounted spares and an impressive slanted and vee'd four-panel windshield with blue tinted visors. In the rear compartment, exquisitely finished bespoke cabinetry was integrated into the rear of the front seats before being fully stocked with all of the essential items for an extended royal motoring excursion: a silver tea serving set, a silver cigarette case, vanity case and liquor set.
The Barker bodywork is quite remarkable. It has a unique combination of tasteful features including a particularly pretty bustle-back design, symmetrical front and rear doors and a distinctive recessed beltline. The open Torpedo Tourer is noteworthy as such body styles were becoming an increasingly scarce sight by the early 1930's. The completed Phantom appeared dramatically different from many of its contemporaries and its bod appearance even caught the attention of Autocar magazine, where a photo of the car was featured in their August 1930 issue.
On March 28, 1930, 50XJ was shipped to the official Rolls-Royce distributor in Bangalore from where it was collected by its aristocratic caretaker, a gentleman who is said to have had a great love of Rolls-Royce and Bentley automobiles. Over the years, the Phantom accumulated a mere 4,800 kilometers and was subsequently garaged in static storage until 1966 when Ray Howard discovered the car housed with representatives of the Maharaja in the state of Orissa. Fortunately for Mr. Howard, who was then working in India as an engineer, the Barker Torpedo was offered for sale despite reports that it was the favored car and the crown jewel of the Maharajah's collection.
After negotiations, Mr. Howard finally acquired 50XJ together with three other cars from the Maharaja's stable of some 18 assorted high-quality automobiles. Mr. Howard immediately shipped 50XJ and a Phantom II to Naples, Italy, and following a service and a new set of tires, he and a partner drove both cars across the continent and into England. In September 1967, the two cars were delivered to a shipper in London and arrived at his home in Oregon two months later.
In 1975, Mr. Howard moved to Hawaii and brought his beloved Phantom II with him. After arriving on the island, he had the Rolls-Royce disassembled in anticipation of restoration. However, he was unable to complete the daunting project due to an absence of appropriate local facilities.
The one-off Rolls-Royce remained in this state for almost 25 years until, after many years of tracking its history and attempting to acquire it, Richard Hooper finally purchased it. As a 30=year RROC member, Mr. Hooper was a devoted Rolls-Royce enthusiast and was particularly smitten with his new Barker-bodied Phantom. In 1995, he was finally able to complete the restoration that had begun with Mr. Howard, showing part of the receipts totally $110,000. Under his auspices, the Rolls-Royce was carefully returned to its original appearance and he even went so far as to consult English Rolls-Royce authority John Fasal in regards to the cars' unique original specifications.
In recent years, another knowledgeable Rolls-Royce devotee purchase the royal Phantom II and wisely repainted the car in a spectacular Indigo Blue with refinished upholstery in the original blue-gray color scheme. Additionally, a great deal of work was done to revive the grand custom-made cabinetry, which today must look much as it did when it was delivered new to the Maharaja in 1930. Taken as a whole, the Barker Torpedo has a splendid appearance, accentuated by graceful wheel discs, auxiliary lamps and highly polished brightwork.
Very few of the Indian-delivered Rolls-Royce survived in such undisturbed order, making this a rare and enticing opportunity to acquire a superb one-off example of the revered Phantom II – one with unrivalled character and an unusually sporting appearance. 50XJ remains in excellent running condition and continues to be an important marquis of the Rolls-Royce legacy. This magnificent car would make a splash at any RROC or CCCA gathering; is eligible for countless tours and events; would be a welcome entry to the most prestigious concours events in the world; and has never been seen at any post-war car show, allowing its newest custodian to be the first, since Barker Coachworks, to display this fine automobile.