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Gurney Nutting Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Drophead & Sedanca Coupe
Gurney Nutting Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Drophead & Sedanca Coupe
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The Twenty and the New Phantom were both replaced in 1929, with the Twenty developed into the 25/30, while the Phantom, , which was retrospectively called the Phantom I, was developed into the Phantom II. The new Phantom II chassis was still rated 40/50 horsepower, the same as the Silver Ghost and Phantom I. However, the new car was lower, and its suspension utilized front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs. In addition, Royce was influenced by the lines of the current Riley Nine, and the manner in which the rear passengers? feet were tucked comfortably under the front seats in foot wells, enabling a variety of close-coupled coachwork to be fitted. Royce even decided to build a special car for his own use.

Superb coachwork with modern styling was now available, and Royce decided on a lightweight sporting body, which Ivan Evernden designed and Barkers originally built, and this car became the forerunner of the legendary Phantom II Continental. Based on a chassis with a relatively short 144-inch wheelbase, the Phantom II Continental had stiffer five-leaf springs, and a 12/41 axle replaced the standard 11/41 unit, allowing greater cruising speeds. In addition, the engine?s compression ratio was increased to 5.25:1, and its design also featured a lower floor, a low-rake steering column, and Hartford remote-control shock absorbers that were later replaced by Rolls-Royce remotely-controlled hydraulic dampers.

The Continental offered higher levels of performance and more sporting driving dynamics, best suited for the enthusiast owner who would likely also choose to drive him or herself. As the name implies, the car was intended for use on "the Continent", where higher speeds, greater distances, and mountainous terrain were the norm. Capable of reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour, the Continental was a true long-distance grand touring machine.

The legendary Captain Sir Malcolm Campbell, of "Bluebird" speed record car fame, swore by the Phantom II Continental. In a Rolls-Royce brochure, Campbell simply described the Continental, of which he owned two examples, with these words: "A better car does not exist the world over." Just 1,680 Phantom IIs were manufactured between 1929 and 1935, and of these, only 281 were Phantom II Continentals.

Then, as now, one of the most coveted of body styles for the Phantom II Continental was the Three-Position Drophead Coupe, originally designed by London's Rolls-Royce main agent Captain H.R. Owen, which also became available in Fixed Head Coupe, Faux Cabriolet and Sedanca Coupe configuration. As in true coachbuilding tradition, multiple subtle variations in shape of the waist line, rear end, fenders, trunk, running board and many other details were available.

Gurney Nutting ultimately produced just 12 examples of the Drophead Coupe. Based on the same body design, about four examples were fitted with a Sedanca Coupe bodywork (fixed rear with opening driver's compartment). With the low windshield, and elegant blind rear quarters, they remain amongst the best-looking cars of the period. The car's bonnet extends nearly to the base of the windscreen, and when combined with the many fine vertical louvers, accentuates the visual impression of length, adding to the body's superb overall proportions.


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