The Phantom III was an entirely different car from previous Phantoms with a 7338cc V12 engine, 120 horsepower and four-speed transmission. With input from Gabriel Voisin, it had an international reputation of modern design and technology with independent suspension amongst scores of other contemporary features. Only 710 Phantom IIIs were produced, with 130 delivered to members of the British Royal Family and high-ranking nobility. Only two Phantom IIIs were coachbuilt to this car’s gorgeous specifications, the second used in 1937 as a show car in the London Motor Show.
Few would disagree that the Phantom III was at its best as a formal car and this handsome Park Ward Sedanca de Ville embodies the grace and sophistication that is associated with these refined luxury automobiles. Among the most elegant and luxuriously appointed Phantom IIIs to have survived, this sensational Sedanca de Ville has been a favorite on the contemporary concours circuit and would be a welcome entry to any international events.
On September 22,1937, this Phantom III chassis, 3CM61, was sent off-test from the Derby works and was shipped the following day from Lillie Hall to Park Ward & Co. in North London. According to a copy of the Rolls-Royce build record, this chassis was equipped with steering at the “E” rake and specified for town work and touring in the UK.
Originally ordered to be held as stock, Park Ward clothed the chassis in this especially attractive Sedanca de Ville coachwork, the formal design paying homage to the classic town carriage with its close-coupled arrangement, raked windscreen, flowing fenders and the fiacre-style treatment of the rear-hinged doors.
According to the Park Ward specification sheet, occupants were treated to an electric rear blind, silk rope-pulls, tray tables, vanities and exquisite cabinetry. In addition, the handsome town car was specified with bleached quilted maple woodwork, plain Ewart discs, distinctive rear spats, a fitted suitcase, a Pyrene fire extinguisher, and Notek fog lamp.
The spectacular Rolls-Royce was finally completed on January 4, 1938, and was immediately dispatched to J.D. Clarke, a surveyor and real estate agent with the exclusive address of 7 Park Lane, London. Registered ELN7, the Phantom must have been a frequent sighting in the Hyde Park area as Rolls-Royce records indicate that Mr. Clarke still owned the regal town car in 1947.
In the decades that followed, the Sedanca de Ville could still be seen in London and at exclusive events such as the 1951 Derby horse race, although, by then, it had been painted its solid dark color. In 1978 the car was sold to Patricia Jean Geerke, leaving England for the first time shortly thereafter, when it was purchased by Tom Barrett of Scottsdale, Arizona.
By the end of 1982, the Phantom reappeared in London, only to return stateside seven years later, having been the recipient of a complete restoration. For several years, the Phantom III was featured on display at the Blackhawk Museum in California, prior to being bought by noted East Coast collector Malcolm Pray.
More recently, the Sedanca de Ville has captured the attention of American enthusiasts while on display at prestigious East Coast venues. While in the care of Mr. Pray, the Phantom III was displayed at the Fairfield Concours d’Elegance and received the Most Distinguished Rolls-Royce Award at Greenwich, as well as the Most Elegant Formal Sedan or Town Car Award at Amelia Island. To this day, 3CM61 retains both its factory-delivered engine and original coachwork, and presents stunningly.
This extremely attractive and elegant Rolls-Royce is one of the finest town cars of the Classic Era. Other similar cars have achieved record-breaking prices in the recent marketplace. The ex-Constance Bennett Phantom II Sedanca de Ville in the J.B. Nethercutt Collection had an offer $3,000,000, which the museum curator refused. The ex-Jerry Rolph Phantom II Sedanca de Ville was sold in 2010 by R.M. Auctions in London for $1,900,000. The Countesse DeFrasso Phantom II Sedanca de Ville was sold twenty years ago by the Blackhawk Collection for $1,000,000 which in today’s money would be in excess of $3,000,000.
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