By 1925 the exceptionally successful eighteen-year production run of the Silver Ghost had firmly put Rolls-Royce at the forefront of motor car production. The term “The Best Car in the World” had been deservingly earned thanks to the soundness of its design and the painstaking lengths the Rolls-Royce engineers and workmen went to during construction. It is fair to say that the Ghost’s efficiency, reliability and superb performance were unmatched at the time. Its reputation laid the foundations for the continued success of the company and following seven years of development on the 2nd of May 1925 a new chapter began with the introduction of the New Phantom, which later became known as the Phantom I. One major improvement over the Silver Ghost was the introduction of the pushrod operated overhead valve engine. Three groups of two cylinders with detachable heads powered the 7.7 litre engine, producing rapid acceleration and the ability to maintain high speeds for periods of time “undreamt of before.” The New Phantom was able to produce 33% greater horsepower at just over 2,000 rpm than its predecessor, thanks to a number of mechanical improvements. The New Phantom was a great success and was considered to be a very worthy successor to the Silver Ghost. Production lasted until early 1930 with a total of 2,269 chassis produced on English soil whilst a little more than 1,200 further chassis were produced at the Rolls-Royce factory in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States. The standard chassis rolled off the production line with a price tag of £1,850 and then it was up to the new owner to instruct the coachbuilder of his/her choice to construct coachwork to their taste.
This was the case with Chassis No 25HC which was originally sold in October of 1925 to a couple who lived on the Isle of Wight. It is understood that the car was sent to Hooper for coachwork to be designed, constructed and fitted, however the gentleman died before any final decisions had been made about the body style, so his widow simply took delivery of the unbodied rolling chassis and stored it in her garage. It is believed to have remained there until her passing in the mid-1960s and beyond, until it was sold in 1971 to Rocco D.La Penta by Morris Garage, with the invoice stating the car as “chassis only.”
It was retained by La Penta until 1974 when it was purchased by Rolls-Royce collector Stewart Prestley Blake who is understood to have driven it around his Connecticut estate in its chassis only form, using a temporary seat of his own design. Prestley Blake, known to many as Pres was a highly successful man having founded his own very lucrative ice cream business. In 1935 he and his brother Curtis founded The Friendly Ice Cream Company which became a national brand in the US over the many decades the Blake brothers were at the helm. He lived to be 106 years old, passing away in 2021, showing that a combination of Rolls-Royce ownership and consuming ice cream regularly can lead to a very long and happy life.
However, winding the clock back some years, Blake eventually decided to have Chassis No 25HC bodied, for the first time in its life and in the early 1980s he contacted Wildae Restoration in the UK and tasked them with the works involved. Blake had long admired the York Roadster coachwork by Brewster, which was constructed only five times for the Phantom I chassis. It so happened that one of the five original cars belonged to a friend of his, so photos and drawings were forthcoming and in plentiful supply to assist Wildae with their work. These images and drawings were immensely helpful, allowing the new coachwork to be constructed with pinpoint accuracy and correct detail throughout. The finished car was then shipped back to the US where it remained as part of Blakes collection for many years.
The present owner bought Chassis No 25HC in 2014 and sent the car to Fiennes who carried out over 2,500 hours of work to the car, to ensure it was totally reliable, a pleasure to drive and in top condition throughout. The works resulted in a “Best in Class” award at the 2016 RREC National Rally at Burghley House. It has subsequently taken part in numerous rallies across Europe, performing beautifully on each occasion. This striking Phantom I with very interesting history is a car we are delighted to be offering for sale at this time.
Good condition throughout
Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in-line engine, 7.7 litres displacement, 7,668cc capacity. Servo-assisted four-wheel brakes.