1937 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM III
Ex-Sir Montague Burton
Believed one of three Barker Landaulets
The Rolls-Royce Phantom III was the last car Sir Henry Royce had direct involvement in. It was a significant development for the company with the introduction of a new V12 engine and was the last large model offered before the second world war. The sophisticated engine was of all-alloy construction and had a twin-ignition system with two distributers, two coils and two spark plugs per cylinder. In the prewar Rolls-Royce tradition, complete running chassis were supplied to the coachbuilder of the customer’s choice. These flagship Rolls-Royces were truly bespoke creations for the very highest members of society.
Copies of original factory records on file show that chassis 3BU174 was ordered new by Sir Montague Burton of Harrogate, founder of Burtons Menswear. After completion of a road test the completed chassis was delivered to coachbuilders Barker of South Audley Street, London on the 2nd April 1937 where an ‘Enclosed Landaulette’ body with 6/7 seats for ‘town work and touring’ was constructed and fitted.
The new car was specified with a wheel carrier on each side of the body to enable two spare wheels to be carried. A bracket for a centre lamp was installed and Sir Montague also requested that the bonnet shutters and bulkhead be angled back by 7 degrees to give the car a more modern appearance.
The new car was completed on the 28th July 1937 and was used by Sir Montague to visit his extensive network of shops around the country.
In January 1953 the car was in the possession of Mr. Ralph Halkett, managing director of Metropolitan Motors of Cheltenham. Later that year the car was with Petersfield Garages of Birmingham before being purchased by a D.O.M. Taylor also of Birmingham. A Mr. D. Wheeler of Warren Street London then acquired the Phantom in September 1976.
By 1983 the car had crossed the Atlantic to Santa Clara, California and only to be re-imported to the UK in 1990 by vintage car dealer David Baldock of Chequers Garage, Goudhurst, Kent. The Phantom was then purchased by the current owners, two experienced engineers as an excellent basis for restoration. A project that was to take over twenty years to complete.
The car was largely complete and was stripped. The two engineers rebuilt the original engine over a two-year period with the help from the Rolls Royce technical society in the USA, Mr Mark Tuttle and Wally Donahue renowned PIII specialist again in the USA. A further source of valuable information was gained from the Steven Bodice book “The Forgotten Engine”. Pistons and liners were fitted along with new camshafts and the crankshaft was reground with new bearings and the engine block was resin-impregnated to guard against porosity. A new radiator and stainless steel exhaust system were also fitted along with new wiring with period fabric braiding.
The body was restored by expert coachbuilder Gary Pitney of G. P. Panelcraft and the interior was retrimmed by Rolls-Royce trimmer Alan Geater in black leather to the front compartment and beige West of England Cloth to the rear. The interior woodwork was restored by Cedar Classics of Hartley Wintney. Finally the body was finished in black over Austin Green.
This Phantom III is believed to be one of only three examples to carry the Barker Landaulette body and is illustrated in the 1975 book ‘Rolls-Royce 1906-1939’ by Dalton & Watson.
The two friends established contact with the Burton family and informed them on the progress of the restoration. There are several letters on file from Sir Montague Burton’s late son who also provided period photographs of the car.
Completed in 2010, the original registration number DYK 490 was obtained from DVLA and the car was used sparingly. Further maintenance and corrective works were carried out in 2020 at a cost of over £13,000.
In 2021, some minor storm damage to the paintwork caused scratches to the wings which forced the decision to completely refinish the body.
Today this impressive Rolls-Royce remains in excellent condition and is ready for its next custodian to enjoy.
Any inspection welcomed.