With great beauty, grace, luxury, and style, Rolls-Royce’s Phantom line managed to take up the Silver Ghost’s mantle with about as much dignity as can be mustered by an automobile. This amazing classic car is the third in the Phantom line, with the New Phantom and Phantom II coming out before it. The Rolls-Royce Phantom models were designed and produced to fill the void left by the iconic Silver Ghost, which was discontinued in 1924. Production began on the Phantom III, followed by its release, in 1935 and 1936, more than ten full years after the Phantom line was first initiated. As you can see, time was extremely beneficial to the line, allowing for several wonderful improvements on the interior, exterior, and mechanics possible that were unheard of in prior years; all of this, of course, was to the benefit of Rolls-Royce Limited as a company, and to automobile consumers the world over.
A ‘Living’ Legend Still Rules the Road
The United States was not the only country hit hard by the Great Depression of the 1920s; in fact, the UK took some pretty bad blows as well. Jobs were scarce, money was low, and those who did have money had lost it suddenly and painfully. In 1936 Rolls-Royce, who had faced demands for a more economical vehicle during the prior ten years, was doing well, but there was absolutely no way to know what tomorrow would bring. The fact that they continued to produce the Phantom line is nothing short of miraculous, as is the fact that the cars continued to sell during the financial devastation around the world.
The Silver Ghost was long a thing of the past by then, and the public had been through both the New Phantom and the Phantom II. The third model in the Phantom line was produced for a total of three years, technically from 1936 to 1939, with only 727 total vehicles manufactured. Much to the surprise of most, the Phantom III, like those before it, continued to sell consistently enough, though it definitely wasn’t Mr. Common Joe next door who was buying. Either way, Rolls-Royce continued to profit as they manufactured and sold them, along with the Goshawk, which was the company’s answer to the public’s demand for a more affordable Rolls.
And the story of the Phantom continued, over the years, through seven generations and countless sub-models, this iconic model has marched on, its trademark ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ caught up in the pleasure of the wind from her position on the tip of the hood (See the gorgeous illuminated version of the hood ornament here. Then, in 2017, Rolls-Royce announced yet another generation…the eighth. Now, two years later, the Phantom still haunts the hearts and minds of all who covet its rich history and even richer symbolism. That year, and yet today, Rolls-Royce produced various sub-models of the glorious Phantom line, including the Drop head Coupe, the standard Phantom, a model featuring an extended wheel base, and more, according to Top Speed. In all, Rolls-Royce has produced an unbelievable total of thirteen generations of the Phantom model.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom: Specs & Features
With this particular piece actually focusing on the Phantom III, and since we have already discussed models I and II in past pieces, let’s take a look at the specs for the most recent Phantom III available to the public. If you had an opportunity to read up on the other two, this will give you a great method of gauging how far the company came from model to model. According to Auto Evolution, the latest Phantom III was released for sale to the public in 1939…80 years ago this very year. The manufacture of the Phantom was interrupted after 1939 thanks to World War II, but resumed again in 1950 and continued through 1956. Once again, the Phantom stepped out of the limelight, not to return until some thirty years later.
Rolls-Royce Phantom III Tech Specs
Forget the small talk…we’re gonna dig right into this baby!
- Chassis-only curb weight at 4,050 lbs (1837 kg)
- Curb weight of Barker & Co. four-door body style at 7,700 lbs (3,500 kg)
- Wheelbase measurements at 142 inches (3,607 mm)
- Luxury Car class
- Manufactured and designed by Rolls-Royce Ltd.
- 727 autos in this line produced between 1936 and 1939
Power train Specs
- 4-speed manual transmission (Synchromesh on gears 2, 3, and 4)
- 7,336 cc V-12 engine (447 cubic inches)
- Overhead valve, push rod engine
Further Spec Details
- Bore & Stroke of 3.25” x 4.5” (82.5mm x 114.3mm)
- Twin ignition systems with two coils, two distributors, and twenty-four spark plugs
- Gasoline fueled
- Twin SU electric pump distributed fuel
- Lubricated by one-shot chassis system (driver operated inside cab by means of a lever)
- On-board jacking
- Coil spring-based independent front suspension system
- Rear suspension consisted of semi-elliptical spring unit
- Overdrive gearbox (added to the model in 1938)
- Cable-application, Servo-assisted brakes on all four wheels
- Staybrite® Steel radiator casing
- Top speed of 87 ½ mph (140 km/h) when tested by ‘The English Autocar’ magazine in 1938
- 0 – 60 mph in 16.8 seconds (0 – 96 km/h in same time frame)
- Fuel consumption at 8.4 miles per US gallon/ 10 miles per Imp. Gallon/ 28 liters per 100 km
Aesthetically speaking, the 1939 Phantom III was only constructed by Rolls-Royce as far as the mechanical parts and chassis were concerned. Sub-contracted coach builders were in charge of body construction, and they put out the body styles as they personally wished; the coach builders were handpicked by either the dealer who would be showing and selling the auto, or the actual future owner of it. Coach builders known for Rolls-Royce body construction included Thrupp & Maberly, Park Ward, Hooper, and Mulliner, to name a few. Phantom III body styles included the convertible, the Saloon (better known as the sedan), and coupes. Rolls-Royces became popular for conversion into hearses in future years.
… Bringing It All Together
With the reputation as being one of the most popular of Rolls-Royce’s luxury cars, the Phantom III has earned its keep. Even though preceded by the Silver Ghost, New Phantom, and Phantom II before its production was interrupted by a major war, it managed to make a comeback, regaining and maintaining the affection of its fans as though it had never disappeared, and leaving the cars that temporarily took its place standing stunned in the dust.
Since we have covered the first three Phantom series models (I, II, III) it is easy to fall in love with this car without so much as a second thought. One does not have to drive it, or even be a passenger, to appreciate all that it was and all that it has become. With that being said, it is certainly an automobile that is worthy of care and respect, and will likely continue to hold a major place in history as being one of the finest motor vehicles on the face of the Earth.
Even if you can’t drive it, love it anyway…
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith