1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Speedster Specifications: 7,668cc overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine with coil and magneto ignition, four-speed transmission, leaf spring and solid axle front suspension, leaf spring and live axle rear suspension and four-wheel servo assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 144' When Henry Royce began to experiment with automobiles in 1903, he had the advantage of having seen many other cars. Most were rough running, unreliable, and noisy devices; he set for himself the goal of matching the smoothness of the steam car, the silence of the electric car, and the utility of the petrol powered car. His strength lay in his ability to refine and develop the work of others. His first car ? the 10hp car ? was easily the most refined automobile of its time.However, a good product alone was not enough, and it was Royce's partnership with C.S. Rolls ? a consummate automobile marketer ? that created the most respected name in automotive history. Beginning with the legendary Silver Ghost, Rolls-Royce dominated the carriage trade, being the preferred motor car for royalty and heads of state. A direct descendent of the Silver Ghost, the Rolls- Royce New Phantom was launched in May 1925. (It would not become known as the Phantom I until after the introduction of the Phantom II several years later.) Although the New Phantom introduced a new and much modernized engine, for the most part, the chassis was almost identical to that of the Silver Ghost ? though there was now a choice of two different wheelbase lengths: 143.5 inches or 150.5 inches. The Phantom transmission was also the same as before, except that the old cone clutch was replaced with a new, single dry plate clutch ? more conducive to quieter and smoother operation.Rolls-Royce made the announcement in September of 1929 that the New Phantom chassis would be discontinued. Rolls-Royce debuted its replacement ? called the Phantom II ? the following month at the Olympia Motor Show. Following Sir Henry Royce's staunch belief in evolution rather than revolution, the new Phantom II offered a more refined, updated chassis and an improved engine, now mounted in unit with the transmission. Chassis improvements included hydraulic shocks and the use of semi-elliptic springs for both front and rear axles, which were underslung. With the new lower frame, a considerable reduction in ride height was the result ? something on the order of nine inches, lending it to more modern and sleek body designs.Phantom II production spanned a relatively brief period of time, only six years between 1929 and 1935. In all, approximately 1,767 examples of the Phantom II were produced. With the customer's choice of coachwork, many were highly distinctive, often tailor made to the buyer.The exquisite Phantom II offered here was commissioned by Sir Julien Cahn on October 18, 1929. The chassis was delivered to Hooper and Company for installation of this coachwork on February 24, 1930. Upon completion in April 1930, the car was delivered to Sir Cahn. As delivered, 23GN did not have front or rear bumpers ? although factory records indicate that the car was returned for installation of new radiator and front and rear bumpers in February of 1934 after an apparent shunt. Sir Cahn kept the car until the late 1930s, when he donated it to the war effort. No details survive of the car's role during the hostilities, but it was later sold by the Ministry of War Transport in 1946. Shortly thereafter, it went to H.S.N. Adams Esq., who became its second long term owner. In 1957 Adams sold 23GN to R.D. Linford, who kept it for seven years before selling it to John L. Mackinlay ? its third long term keeper.The next owner of record was Charles A.R. Howard, who bought the car in 1988, and kept it until 1991 when he sold it to Ken Behring's Blackhawk museum, where it remained until the vendor purchased it in 1997.Hooper and Company23GN the only two-place speedster built by Hooper & Co., arguably the leading English coach builder of the period.Hooper & Co., of London was established in 1807 in Haymarket. By 1904 they had opened their famous showrooms at 54 St. James Street, Piccadilly, in London's fashionable west end. By 1909 the company had celebrated its 100th anniversary - and had become one of the leading coachbuilders for Rolls-Royce. At the same time, their coachbuilding works at Chelsea was by far the largest of its kind in London.The firm was unique in that they held Royal Warrants from approximately 1920 until the firm closed its doors in the 1950s ? indelibly associating Hooper coachwork with England's Royal Family by providing bespoke automobiles through nine reigns of Kings & Queens of England. At one time or another, Hooper & Co. have had Royal Warrants granted by virtually every one of the crowned heads of Europe. As the company's reputation for outstanding workmanship and quality spread, Hooper cars were ordered by royalty and heads of state from around the world, including the Emperor of Japan, the King of Egypt and the Shah of Persia. This extraordinary coachwork, original and unique to this car, is so admired that two scale models have been created, by two different model builders, not of the series, but only of this particular chassis, 23GN. 'Top Marques' produced 48 examples in two different colors (red and black), with an additional one-off model for the collection of H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester, an admirer of the motor car. These models quickly sold out, and are now almost as hard to acquire as the car itself.Recent HistoryAfter its tenure with the Blackhawk Museum, 23GN was submitted for a comprehensive professional restoration. During the restoration, the bumpers were removed to return the car to its original configuration.Upon completion, 23GN was invited to participate in the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance, where it was awarded the Lucius Beebe Memorial Trophy. (Since it will be 10 years since the car appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours, it is once again eligible for participation in this legendary event.)Since that time, 23GN has participated in a limited number of concours events, winning either Best of Show or Best of Class trophy at each one. In Classic Car Club of America judging, the car has been awarded a National First Place award, followed by its Senior ring in 2003.23GN was invited to the first Annual Pebble Beach Motoring Classic in 2005, completing the 1500-mile tour from Kirkland, Washington to the Pebble Beach Lodge without incident. Incidentally, the car was photographed and appeared in Road and Track magazine's account of the event. (December, 2005 issue)Hooper's striking coachwork was designed with ? and retains ? two convertible tops. One covers the front seat, while the second covers the rumble seat and connects to the first. Both were replaced in 2004, and have only been raised twice since. All leather spring gaiters have been replaced with new gaiters made from original pattern by Wefco Services in the United Kingdom, the original supplier of spring gaiters to Rolls-Royce.There is a complete two-tray concours condition tool kit fitted within the trunk. In addition, a Laycock P type (heavy-duty) overdrive unit has been fitted for comfortable and quiet road touring. Furthermore, the car is documented by copies of the original chassis cards and build documentation, which confirm the originality of chassis, engine, and coachwork.SummaryThe cost of a new Rolls-Royce in the midst of the Great Depression limited the market to those whose financial position afforded them the ability to disregard the circumstances of the day. Nonetheless, of the few examples built, most carried conservative coachwork, suited to the somber mood of the times.Consequently, very few examples of sporting coachwork were commissioned ? and of those, far fewer exhibited the flamboyant design of Hooper's stunning coachwork for chassis no. 23GN.The lower chassis of the Phantom II permitted more rakish coachwork, and Barker certainly took advantage of that opportunity. Given the size and weight of the car, its light and streamlined appearance is startling, even by modern standards.The exquisite lines of the coachwork combine perfectly with the light and raked windshield, the individual fenders, separate running boards, and the twin rear spares. Delightful details include the Stephen Grebel headlights with matching side mounted spot lights and the polished alloy wheel covers.23GN can never be mistaken for any other Phantom II. With its absolutely stunning coachwork, flawless provenance, and world class restoration, many believe it to be the single most important example of the model to survive today.