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Lot 410: Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom II Sedanca de Ville

Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams (19 June 2010)

Highly favoured by prominent coachbuilders, the Phantom II chassis provided the platform for some of the truly outstanding designs of its day and this example wears handsome saloon coachwork by Barker & Co, of London, one of the finest of all British coachbuilders and a firm associated with Rolls-Royce from the latter's earliest days. Chassis number '40JS' was constructed in 1932 to the order of Mrs Laura Corrigan and later returned by her to the factory to be fitted with silver-plated instruments. Dubbed the 'Dollar Queen of Europe', this fabulously wealthy American lady was the widow of James W Corrigan, president of the Corrigan-McKinney Steel Company until his death, aged only 47, in January 1928. Although she inherited her husband's stock, Laura Corrigan was not allowed to use her shares to vote and eventually sold out to the Republican Steel Corporation, investing the proceeds in tax-free US Government bonds. Associated Press reported that 20 guards and three armoured trucks transferred the $21,000,000 in bonds from Union Trust to the National City Bank. Born Laura Mae Whitrock, Mrs Corrigan came from humble stock and she and her husband found themselves snubbed by 'high society' in both their hometown of Cleveland and in New York. Shortly after The Great War, the Corrigans moved to London where Laura Corrigan befriended Mrs George Keppel, King Edward VII's favourite mistress, renting her mansion on Grosvenor Street. Within a few years Mrs Corrigan had achieved all that had been denied her in the USA and become a major influence in British society, entertaining political leaders and royalty from all over the world. In addition to her London residences, Laura Corrigan maintained a large suite on the 1st floor of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. When war broke out in September 1939 she organised 'La Bienvenue', a group of like-minded women dedicated to providing welfare for Allied servicemen. After the German victory in 1940 she moved to the unoccupied Vichy zone where she devoted herself to helping refugees. When Germany moved to occupy all of France in 1944 she escaped via Portugal and returned to London where she founded the Wings Club for Allied airmen. For her wartime work, Laura Corrigan received the Croix de Guerre from a grateful France and The King's Medal from Britain. She died on 22nd January 1948 while visiting her sister in New York City. Almost all of those attending her memorial service in London were to be found in 'Who's Who'. Back in 1935 the Phantom had passed to its second owner, Victor Vitali Behar, who had residences in London's Mayfair and Folkestone, Kent. Mr Behar kept the car until 1964 when it passed to the third owner, Thomas Mason. A real 'country character', Thomas Mason had originally collected Rolls-Royce motor cars to use their rear axles for farm carts! By 1977, HM The Queen's Silver Jubilee year, he had reputedly acquired 77 Rolls-Royces. Of these, only '40JS' was used regularly but even so the car only covered some 8,000-or-so miles in 26 years, which included a drive past HM The Queen at Windsor Castle as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations. In 1991, '40JS' passed into the ownership of Derek and Avril Harris and a major restoration commenced, Avril re-trimming the interior under the tutelage of Roy Creech, one of the UK's most accomplished coach trimmers, while Derek restored the wood trim and overhauled the chassis and engine. (Derek's article 'Overhauling the Phantom II Engine' is a highlight of the RREC Technical Manual). While in the Harris's long-term ownership '40JS' has become well known throughout Europe as a regular and reliable participant in RREC events, attending rallies in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales. In 2002 the car again appeared in front of her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle, on this occasion as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. '40 JS' is finished in dark blue with black leather upholstery to the front compartment and beige to the rear, and comes with a complete set of tools in the trunk and a second set under the driver's seat. The sedanca de ville body affords accommodation for five, plus two occasional rear seats, while other noteworthy features include two rear trunks; twin side-mounted spare wheels; silver-plated dashboard instrumentation; and one key for ignition, bonnet and door locks. One of the finest of all pre-war Grand Tourers, this imposing Phantom II possesses an outstanding pedigree and has had only a handful of owners from new. The car is offered with a large and comprehensive service history file; sundry restoration invoices; old-style buff logbook; instruction manual; current MoT/tax; and Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
TypeCar
Lot Number410
Estimate£110000-£130000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1932
Condition rating
Registration numberGT 3830
Mileage-
Chassis number40JS
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors4