The History of the Infamous Rolls Royce Phantom
Over the last century, the term ‘Phantom’ has been used to describe a whole host of cars manufactured by Rolls-Royce. With a long line of cars stretching back to the 1920’s, we thought it would be interesting to delve into the deep history of such a famous car.
The First Phantom – 1925 – 1931
The first version of the Phantom was Rolls-Royce’s replacement for the original Silver Ghost, introduced as the ‘New Phantom’ in 1925. The main difference between the New Phantom and the Silver Ghost was the larger engine introduced in the New Phantom when it arrived. The New (First) Phantom also used pushrod-operated overhead valves instead of the Silver Ghost’s side valves.
Phantom II – 1929 – 1936
The Phantom II was the third and last of the Rolls-Royce’s 40/50 hp models, replacing the New Phantom in 2929. With an all-new chassis, the Phantom II featured an updated version of the First Phantom’s engine. Buyers could also opt for a ‘Continental’ version, which was made with a shorter wheelbase and stiffer springs.
Phantom III – 1936 – 1939
By the time 1936 came around, Rolls Royce had released what would be the final, large, pre-war Rolls Royce, replacing the Phantom II.
Until the Silver Seraph was introduced in 1998, the Phantom III was the only Rolls Royce with a V12 engine. 727 Phantom III’s with V12 engines were manufactured between the years of 1936 and 1939 before chassis production ceased. The last chassis was finished in 1940.
Henry Royce, one of 3 founders of Rolls-Royce, unfortunately died during the Phantom III’s development in 1933. This would be the last car that he ever worked on.
Phantom IV – 1950 – 1959
The 4th Phantom, the Phantom IV, would become the rarest of the Phantom range, manufactured between 1950 and 1956. During this time, only 18 motors were made, with Rolls-Royce aiming the 4th edition of the Phantom entirely at those worthy of distinction. The British royal family and heads of state were among the small collection of people privileged enough to get their hands on one.
Only 16 of the Phantom IV are thought to still exist, locked away in museums or as part of private collections.
( Rolls Royce Phantom IV – Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons )
Phantom V – 1959 – 1968
Between 1959 and 1968, 516 Phantom V’s were produced. Some of the notable owners included Queen Elizabeth II and her mother, though these had been adapted for use as official state cars with a flag staff and illuminated heraldic shield above the windscreen and a glass canopy fixed over the back seat, so the Queen would be more visible to onlookers.
Phantom VI – 1968 – 1991
Between the years of 1968 and 1973, the Phantom VI was manufactured by Rolls-Royce Ltd, before its successor Rolls-Royce Motors took over the manufacturing between 1973 and 1990.
The Phantom VI wasn’t all that different from the V. With an updated fascia and an engine that derived from the current Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, the Phantom VI would eventually become the Phantom to be produced for the longest period of time, though only 374 were ever produced. Similarly to the Phantom V, the Phantom VI would be used by Queen Elizabeth II as part of her royal fleet of cars.
Phantom VII – 2003 – 2017
Things changed dramatically from the Phantom VI to the Phantom VII, moving into the 21st century. Launched in 2003, the VII was a luxury saloon car manufactured by Rolls-Royce Motors. This was the first Rolls-Royce developed and introduced after BMW purchased the rights to use the Rolls Royce name and logo in 1998.
After a decade or so without production, Rolls-Royce was thought to be revived as a luxury car maker after the release of the VII. This would be the only car release by Rolls-Royce between the years of 2003 and 2009, when the smaller Rolls-Royce Ghost was released.
Phantom VIII – 2017 – Present
July 2017 saw the debut of the modern-day Phantom as we know it, AKA the Phantom VIII. Like the VII, the VIII is a luxury saloon car manufactured by Rolls Royce Motors under BMW ownership.
Unveiled by live-stream on the 27th July 2017, the Phantom VIII made a public debut just two days later at a special exhibition in Mayfair, London. This would be known as ‘The Great Eight Phantoms’.
Exhibition attendees had the opportunity to view a Phantom from each of the eight generations, including Fred Astaire’s Phantom I, subsequent models driven by royalty and even John Lennon’s psychedelic-painted Phantom V.
We aren’t sure what’s next for the Phantom, with the latest edition due to have its 1st birthday next month. If previous models are to go by, we may not see a new Phantom for some time. All we know is, we love the Phantom and we look forward to seeing how it evolves in the coming decades!