Lot 327 - 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Experimental
|Chassis Number||29CL (15EX)|
|Estimate||£68,000 - £78,000|
Sir Henry Royce initiated the production of several experimental chassis of the new Phantom model by Ivan Evernden to replace the Silver Ghost. These cars were given EX chassis numbers and one was extensively used for high speed testing mainly on the long straight roads of France. This car was 15 EX; engine No. 21 EX, which was sent to Hooper's at the end of 1927 to be fitted with the Rolls- Royce designed speeder body, the same as 10EX (the following two chassis were also fitted with the same body design but built by different coachbuilders). The car was finished by January 1928 in preparation for a 10,000-mile test in France. It was given the registration number CH7189 and painted in blue.
E. W. Hivescalled at the home of Henry Royce in West Wittering to show him the car and left it there for George Hancock to continue to France. W. A. Robotham went over to France to check the car's progressand reported that after 6,000 miles, it was still in splendid condition with the engine running smoothly. Speeds of well over 90mph had been reached with favourable conditions with petrol and oil consumptions both excellent. With Briggs at the wheel, Harry Grylls as passenger and Reg Butler, a regular Chateauroux experimental driver, in the rear, the body was standing up to the pounding of French roads until, after completing 9,000 miles , the car approached a slight curve at about 50mph on a wet road. It skidded, left the road and hit a tree. Briggs was unhurt, Grylls was only slightly injured but Butler suffered a fractured skull and died in hospital in Amiens a few days later. Development engineer Harry Grylls carried out an investigation into the accident, but the cause remained a mystery since the steering on wet roads was better on 15EX than on any previous car.
The remains were returned to Derby and the chassis was rebuilt with a longer frame, new type radiator, dash and bonnet and renumbered 29 CL; still registered, however, CH 7189 and still using the correct and original engine, 21EX. A very glamorous Barker Continental Torpedo Tourer body was now fitted and the car was used as an official demonstrator until the arrival of the new Phantom II model rendered it obsolete. During this period, the car lived a busy social life being used at the wedding of Prince Christopher of Greece in Palermo and became the German demonstration model known as the 'Baden and Prague' propaganda car. 29CL then passed through several hands, before returning to Rolls-Royce ownership where it was re-bodied with its current Hooper limousine coachwork in 1931; still with the original engine, and still registered CH 7189. In this form the car survives to this day having spent the intervening 80 years in a variety of ownerships before being acquired and re-commissioned by the previous owner in 1974.
This represents a hugely rare opportunity to purchase one of the most important pages in the history of Rolls-Royce; a car which has lived three separate lives and more than proved the reliability of Rolls-Royce engines. 29CL (15EX) is supplied with a V5C registration document, a history file which includes copies of the original chassis cards, the chassis cards for the two sister cars 16EX and 17EX and a CD Rom containing detailed photographs of 17EX and information to help with the restoration should you wish to return this car back to its former glory.
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Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Buyers are advised to inspect the car in person or use a professional to carry out this service.