A lasting tribute to the Art Deco era, the 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe is a remarkable example of cars being objects of art with a fascinating story.
The 1924 Rolls Royce Phantom l with a convertible body by Hooper was commissioned by an American lady from Detroit. The car never got to the States however, and was subsequently purchased by the Raja of Nanpara, an Indian regional potentate under British rule.
It’s at this point that the vehicle was sent to the Jonckheere brothers in Belgium for its new hand-crafted body. Some reports suggest it was intended as a present for Prince Edward, but all records from the factory were lost in the war and it is not even known who originally penned the fantastic Art Deco body shape.
The car was fitted with a 6-cylinder, 7.66L OHV inline six engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The body was completely hand fabricated to include round doors, split-opening half-moon windows, twin sunroofs, bespoke luggage and a stabilizing fin at the rear.
All told, the luxurious automobile was quiet enough to hold a conversation at speed and would easily travel at 100 mph (161 km/h).
The vehicle changed hands many times in the 40s and 50s until it ended up with American Max Opie, who restored it and painted it with six pounds of gold dust and lacquer.
After life as a traveling sideshow, it disappeared until 1991 when it was purchased by a Japanese gentleman for US$1.5 million.
In 2004 it was purchased by the Petersen Museum and restored to its first incarnation of black gloss exterior and red leather interior.
The vehicle is a popular attraction at Palm Beach and other classic car concours events, but in a cruel twist is unfortunately not eligible for the top prizes at these gatherings as the original records are lost.