Monday, June 15, 2015

The last Rolls-Royce bought by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, the fabulous Phantom III 1937

The twelfth and last Rolls-Royce bought by Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla was a fabulous Phantom III 1937. The 3BU 198 Phantom III chassis came off test on 25th February 1937, fitted with engine no. X18E, and with steering first at the high C rake but changed during construction to the middle E rake. It went to Windovers Limited on 1st March 1937, where they built a sedanca de ville, to design no. 4986 and body number 6456. The car had false landau irons, and two spare wheels, one to each side. Unusually for a car for use in the UK, it was fitted with Marchal headlamps. A radio and ‘Philco Rola’ loud speakers were installed in keeping with advancement in technology. It was painted Embassy Black, completed on 29th April 1937 and delivered to the Maharaja at his Old Windsor estate on 3rd May with UK registration DXP 989. It looks remarkably similar to his Phantom II 1934 181 RY but, of course, with different engines and other features.

The Maharaja used the car in the UK. The Second World War came two years later. The romantic era of the 1920s and 1930s was over. Things were never the same again after the war. Rajpipla State was merged with the Union of India in April 1948. Maharaja Vijaysinhji passed away at Old Windsor in 1951.

In 1956 the car passed on to John Blackwood of the large British engineering company Blackwood Hodge; in 1961 it went to C. Campleman, still with its original hydraulic tappets, and in 1962 was acquired by A.J.H. King in Kent with under 60,000 miles on the meter. The car then passed into the hands of a member of the Swedish royal family and apparently still retains one of the royal family's car badges, as well as a window sticker. It then came into the ownership of a celebrated collector and enthusiast, Hans Thulin. In the late 1980s it went to Germany where the collector carried out a great deal of detailed restoration work to the highest standards.

This splendid automobile is now believed to be in remarkable condition, with excellent chromed brightwork including an original 'spirit of ecstasy' mascot. The luxurious interior has also been expertly restored in light brown leather with superb highly-polished wood cappings, including a cocktail cabinet fitted to the central division. It was last auctioned at Coys, London in December 2013.

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