t the 1935 Olympia Show in London, Rolls-Royce unveiled the third generation Phantom. While still dubbed the 40/50 Model like its six-cylinder engined predecessors, it represented a considerable step forward. In response to its direct rivals like Hispano Suiza, the Phantom III featured an all-new V12 engine and independent front suspension. V12 engines were however not new to the versatile company as it had gained very useful experience producing twelve-cylinder engines for airplanes.
Developed over a number of years, the new V12 engine was slightly smaller than the straight six previously used but still displaced just under 7.4 litre. Constructed using lightweight aluminium alloys throughout, it featured a single-piece crank-casing and ditto cylinder heads. Twin plug ignition was used with separate coils each providing the spark to one of the plugs in the cylinders. The prototype engines were equipped with four separate carburettors, which proved difficult to setup correctly and were ultimately replaced by a single Stromberg carburettor developed specifically for the Rolls-Royce V12 engine.
The steel ladder frame chassis was also completely reworked and for the first time featured boxed side members. At the front the suspension was by double wishbones, while a live axle was still used at the rear. Both the front coil springs and the rear semi-elliptic leaf springs were installed inside an oil-filled reservoir to deaden the noise. On all four corners adjustable hydraulic dampers were used, which automatically firmed up as the speed increased. The driver could override the adjustments with a lever behind the steering wheel if the ride was too hard. A separate four-speed gearbox was used, which was mounted to the rear of the car to improve the weight balance.
Although considerably more complicated, the rolling Phantom III chassis was just £50 more expensive than the outgoing Phantom II at £1,850. It was available with a sizeable 3,607 mm wheelbase and the chassis was around 100 kg heavier than the outgoing model. Production commenced in earnest in 1936 and by 1939, when the imminent War intervened, just over 700 examples of the Phantom III were constructed. While it was one of the most sophisticated cars of its day, the overly complicated Phantom III is today not quite as highly regarded as the Phantom II, which for most is the quintessential pre-War Rolls-Royce.
|Country of origin:||Great Britain|
|Numbers built:||727 (All chassis)|
|Designed by:||Voll & Ruhrbeck|