Villa Erba

25 May 2013

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Lot 107

1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Tourer by Barker

  • Chassis no. 82OR
  • Engine no. ZG95
  • Body no. 6323

Sold for €268.800

40/50 bhp, 7,668 cc overhead-valve six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with cantilever leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 3,822.7 mm (150.5 in.)

  • An original Rolls-Royce factory test car for 1929, with original engine, chassis, and body
  • Attractive Barker tourer coachwork, restored in eye-catching original colours
  • Fascinating history
  • Winner of the Lucius Beebe Trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Even in the rarefied world of Rolls-Royce, where every car is a reflection of its owner’s whims and is therefore different, a beautiful thing sometimes bears repeating. Thrilled by the success of its 1927/28 Riviera trials car, a Barker-bodied Open Touring on chassis 21UF, the factory produced a second car on factory experimental chassis 15EX, finished to exactly the same specifications, save a rear-mounted spare, and used it as a “propaganda car” (demonstrator) at German shows. Finally, a third and final car was built to the design, identical down to its colour scheme of cream bodywork with polished aluminium bonnet, scuttle and wings, and upholstery, which was in apple green leather. That third car is this car, chassis 82OR.

The car was built in June of 1929, and it was retained by the factory until October 1930, when it passed to original owner H.W. Cullum. The Rolls-Royce then led quite an adventurous existence, appearing in 1956 in Mombasa, Kenya, under the ownership of Mr D.L. Wright. Reportedly, whilst in Mombasa, it was used to chauffeur Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to the city.

The Rolls eventually passed to William Proctor, also of Mombasa, who sold the car in 1964 to Pan American Airways engineer Jack Porter. Porter took the Rolls-Royce home to the United States, shipping it to San Francisco in 1965, and for the next 32 years, the car remained a beloved member of the family. It followed the Porters to homes in New Orleans and, finally, Marshall, Texas, where Jack Porter lovingly performed the car’s original restoration.

In 1997, the Rolls was acquired by enthusiasts from London, who performed a cosmetic restoration. The current owner acquired the car two years later and, after researching its history, decided to have the car painstakingly restored once more—this time in its original colours and exactly as it had been when new.

The result of the restoration is still spectacular today, just as it was when it earned the Lucius Beebe Trophy for Most Elegant Rolls-Royce at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1999. Mrs Porter was invited to join the current owner at the concours, and she pointed out two blanked-out holes in the radiator shutters. In Kenya, she recalled that no one ever used keys, but to protect the Rolls from theft, the car had a padlock connecting the two centre louvers covering the radiator. If the car would be stolen, it would overheat after a mile or two and not get very far. “It’s the Mombasa anti-theft device”, she recalled with a smile.

To find a pre-war Rolls-Royce that was specially built by the factory, for the factory, to show off the best of its efforts, is incredible enough. To combine that with original coachwork, beautifully presented in its original colours, and a fantastic provenance and beautiful restoration, makes this spectacular Rolls a very special and rarely-seen automobile today.

Alain Squindo

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