Revealed to the world in 1935, the new model retained the chassis concept and the imposing grille synonymous with its ancestors. But in the spirit of true evolution, the similarities ended there.
For the Phantom III’s sophisticated V12 engine, Rolls-Royce engineers tapped into their aviation expertise, utilising technology from the R-Type and Merlin engines. Constructed from lightweight alloys, the 7.4 litre unit was fitted with advanced hydraulic valves. And although the engine power was never announced, it was enough to propel the Rolls to speeds above 140 km/h, dependant on the body type. Speed was not the most pressing factor in a luxury model like the Phantom III, instead its elite customers demanded aristocratic levels of comfort. After all, the Phantom III was competing against Mercedes-Benz and Hispano-Suiza as the brand of choice for the upper echelons of society.
To guarantee an appreciable level of rolling comfort, Rolls-Royce fitted an independent suspension system on the front axle. The system developed by General Motors came with a price tag, obliging the English marque to pay a premium for each vehicle they manufactured. Production of the Phantom III would sadly end in 1939 with the advent of the Second World War. As a result, only 710 units were built between 1936 and 1939, making it the most exclusive of the pre-war Rolls-Royce’s.
On July 13, 1937, this Phantom III was purchased by the Prince of Berar, son of the Nizam of Hyderabad, India, who ordered the Cabriolet body to be specially adapted for hunting—by Windovers. The car was delivered to him fitted with hunting accessories including headlights, weapons carrier and stirrups—transforming this unique model into an exotic masterpiece.
The fascinating story of this Phantom did not, however, end in India. Eager to receive Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Portugal in February 1957, the President of the Republic, General Craveiro Lopes, decided to purchase a Rolls-Royce convertible for the occasion. Harry Rugeroni was sent to England for the task, but unable to find a suitable option, he opted for the option of the Prince of Berar’s Rolls-Royce. The Prince who had returned to London in 1950, had exhausted his fantasy of hunting like a nobleman on the Indian subcontinent.
The rare Phantom III was re-registered under the number DD-30-92, on March 28, 1957, and from then on it served the Presidency of the Republic—transporting personalities such as President Eisenhower and Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.
It was later donated to the Museu do Caramulo by the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic.