Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

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Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
The first Rolls-Royce Phantom IV.jpg
Production 1950–1956
18 units
Engine 5.7 L and 6.5 L (final three vehicles only) I8
Transmission 4-speed gearbox (from 1954, 4-speed automatic gearbox standard)
Wheelbase 3683 mm (12ft 1in)
Length 5765.8 mm (18ft 11in)
Width 1955.8 mm (6ft 5in)
Height 1879.6 mm (6ft 2in) (Data corresponding to the first P. IV varies depending on each unit and/or type of coachwork)
Predecessor Phantom III
Successor Phantom V

The Phantom IV was the most exclusive Rolls-Royce model ever built[1] and one of the most elite cars in the history of motoring. Only eighteen were made between 1950 and 1956, seventeen of which were sold - exclusively to royalty and heads of state. Sixteen are preserved in museums, public and private collections.


Kneeling version of the spirit of ecstasy, made between 1934 - 1939 and again in 1946 - 1956. It was mounted on most of the Phantom IV radiators, except in units 15 and 18.
The two big Lucas R.100 headlights flanking the emblematic Parthenon-style radiator grille. Top and front surfaces look dead flat but are actually a few thousandths convex, so they will look flat. In accordance with the design principles used by the ancient Greeks in that temple.[2]

By creating the Phantom IV the manufacturer broke with their earlier decision to cease production of the series of "big" Rolls-Royce Phantoms after the end of the Second World War.[3]

The chassis differed from those of the shorter, production post-War models, the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith and the Bentley Mark VI, apart from a larger size and an engine with increased capacity and power, in having an additional cross-member at the centre of the cruciform bracing and 10-stud road wheel mounting.[4]

Two 1949 photographs pertaining the 8 cylinder engine of the first chassis made.

The engine was a derivative of the 8-cylinder rationalized B range of petrol engines (formed by four, six and straight eight). Specifically it was a refined version of a B80, the last three of a B81, both used in military and commercial vehicles.[5] The P. IV is the only Rolls-Royce motorcar to be fitted with a straight-8 engine, which was powerful but could also run long distances at a very low speed, an important feature for ceremonial and parade cars.

All examples of this exclusive series were bodied by independent coachbuilders (in declining number after the war)[6] and most of their bonnets surmounted by the kneeling version of the Spirit of Ecstasy, which had been unveiled in 1934 and used in various other models.


In July 1938 Rolls Royce had to publish in the motoring press an announcement denying that the Phantom III fabrication would be interrupted. The following was published on 19 July 1938 in the British magazine The Motor:

THE COMPANY WISH TO DENY the rumour that the Phantom III is to be discontinued and replaced with another model having an 8-cylinder or other engine.[7]

However, in 1937 a project was initiated to rein in the manufacturing costs of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley (acquired by RR in 1931) motor car chassis. This involved the development of a Rationalized Range of cars sharing as many common components of the chassis as possible.[8]

Prototype known as Big Bertha.

As implementation of this rationalization plan, several prototypes were made. One of these, chassis 30-G-VII, was fitted with a large Park Ward seven-seater limousine body and was called Silver Wraith 80, then Silver Phantom, though it soon became known as Big Bertha.[9] This was the genesis of the Phantom IV.[8]

Likewise, in 1939 and before the starting of hostilities, another straight-eight powered experimental automobile tested during and after World War II was a special Bentley Mark V, chassis 11-B-V[10] fitted with a bored-out 6.3 litre eight-cylinder engine.[11]

Although the official Experimental Department name for this car was Comet,[12] its scorching performance earned it the fond epithet Scalded Cat.[13] This unit in particular would later play a key role in the decision of creating the Phantom IV.[13]

Indeed, in 1948 the Duke heard about the Bentley nicknamed Scalded Cat and asked if he might test it out. He enjoyed this experimental car immensely and drove it for considerable distances. When he returned it, he apparently murmured about how nice it would be to have a car with performance in the Royal Mews.

Chassis 4AF2 (Nabha) just completed, 1949.

On 15 November 1948,[13] not long after Prince Philip had driven the aforementioned automobile, an order came through for a Rolls-Royce motor car for Their Royal Highnesses Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. They placed the order through The Car Mart, Ltd., RR official retailers.[14] Such a vehicle would have to meet their official needs which meant it must be a limousine, it would also have to have good performance since the Prince wished to drive it himself. The car would be the first RR in the stables.[15] It was originally planned to be the only Phantom IV, a strictly one-off piece.[16]

Rolls-Royce, aware that Daimler had held the Royal warrant to provide motor cars since 1900, was very keen to ensure that the car was the best there had ever been, and a great deal of hand work was lavished on the construction of the chassis. The board had earlier considered making a replacement for the pre-war Phantom III, but were wary that such a large and expensive motor car might not have a market in the weak post-war economy. Production of the new model was not at Crewe but at the experimental Clan Foundry at Belper which had been the home of the motor car branch during the Second World War.[3][17]

Royal Rolls-Royce, published on 7 July 1950 in the British magazine The Autocar, where it is described the first P. IV produced and it was said that; "at present no other orders are being accepted." It is the first article written on the model, as well as one of a very few published in the 1950s about it.

The chassis 4AF2 was built under the code-name Nabha[18] and Mulliner was selected as the coachbuilder, so they prepared drawings for approval. The chassis, was delivered to them on 20 July 1949 for erection of the body.[19] Prince Philip visited the workshops more than once while it was being built. When the automobile was completed in July 1950 its delivery was accompanied by a public announcement stating the Phantom IV had been "designed to the special order of Their Royal Highnesses, the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh".

As the car was privately owned when delivered to the couple it was painted Valentine green (deep green with a slight blue secondary hue) with red belt-line striping. The limousine became an official state car of the United Kingdom upon Princess Elizabeth's accession to that country's throne in 1952; as such, it was repainted in the sovereign's colour scheme of royal claret and black.[18][17] It remains in the Royal Mews and is still occasionally used for royal and state occasions. For example, it was used at the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton to carry Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, from Clarence House to Westminster Abbey.

The three automobiles of the Spanish Army in front of the Royal Palace of El Pardo (Spain)

On 18 October 1948, Crewe received an order from the Government of Spain for three armored cars for the use of Generalissimo Francisco Franco: two limousines and a convertible sedan. While the Phantom IV was not specified in the order, or even known outside the company at that time, it was decided that the best way to cope with the huge additional weight would be to build the three cars as Phantom IVs,[20] rather than over-burden the Silver Wraith chassis. Especially since the Foreign Office suggested that Crewe could not turn down the order.[16]

Without intending it, the Government of Spain triple order (along with the later Duke's commission) probably helped to give a decisive impulse to the existence of this model, as suggested by Martin Bennett in his book Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years and the number 9 September 1990 of the British magazine Classic Cars.[21] All these three historical vehicles are property of the Spanish Army and are still in ceremonial use for the Spanish head of state.

It is not known exactly when the "Royalty and Heads of State only" policy was decided, nor indeed whether in fact there was such an explicit company policy. It is known though, that a boardroom decision was reached that it would be impractical and disruptive to production of standard models to attempt to build more than three Phantom IVs per year.[22] It is also clear that no private customer other than Royalty and Heads of State ever took delivery of a Phantom IV. Nevertheless, a considerable number of coachbuilder's drawings exist of proposed Phantom IVs that never were built.

Bodies designed by H. J. Mulliner for James Melton (left) and Briggs Cunnigham (right).

A number of these are proposals by coachbuilders for chassis which in the event were bodied by other coachbuilders. Others were proposed but not built at all. Most are linked to a specific customer's name, such as the King Farouk, the Maharajas of Baroda and Mysore, as well as the Americans Briggs Cunningham and James Melton. It is evident that certain customers outside of the Royalty and Heads of State category believed that a Phantom IV would be available for purchase. Just how, or if, the news was broken to those customers that the firm would not supply a chassis for their proposed cars, or how they were talked around to other models, is open to conjecture.[23]

Cars of the Aga Khan III (left) and Princess Margaret (right).

The Phantom IV ceased production in 1956, by this time the model was not considered necessary for state use: Appropriate bodies had been built on Silver Wraiths. So, it was possible to buy a Silver Wraith for state occasions, which worked well for the factory. On the contrary, the hand-built P. IV with each coachwork customized for demanding customers, was not very profitable.[24] Although contributed to reinforce the image of prestige the British firm was looking for.

Table of the 18 units[edit]

Chassis No. of engine First owner/user Coachbuilder Type of coachwork Coachwork number/design Original colour Upholstery Delivery date Picture of the unit
4AF2 P1A HRH The Princess Elizabeth, The Duchess of Edinburgh H. J. Mulliner Limousine 7-seater 5034 / 7162 First Valentine green with a red stripe down either side; repainted claret and black in 1952 Front: blue leather, later redone in dark blue cloth. Rear: grey cloth 6 July 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF2.jpg
Mascot of Saint George and dragon, designed by artist Edward Seago, it is made of silver and can be transferred from car to car—whichever the Queen is riding in. Fitted with a specially modified driver's seat in case the Duke of Edinburgh wished to drive himself. It is fitted with a Lion as the mascot when used in Scotland

On 10 April 1952, the Queen was driven in this car to her first royal engagement—the presentation of Maundy Money at the Westminster Abbey. It carried the Queen to the opening of the British parliament in 1954.[25] Fitted with an automatic gearbox in 1955.

4AF4 P2A Rolls-Royce Park Ward Pick-up truck ~ Grey ~ 1 October 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF4.jpg
Experimental truck used for the factory. In 1952 was fitted with the B81 engine and automatic gear box. Dismantled in 1963.
4AF6 P3A HM Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran H. J. Mulliner Cabriolet 5077 / 7205 Blue silver White leather 8 March 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF6.jpg
According to Martin Bennett's book "Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years" (3rd edition, 2011), chassis 4AF6, a 2-door convertible, was returned to Rolls-Royce: The third PIV built, and the second delivered to a customer, was 4AF6 for the Shah of Iran. The coachwork was again by H.J. Mulliner, but the huge drophead coupe body, which was finished in a light metallic blue with white leather upholstery, was by no means characteristic of this coachbuilder. It was the only Phantom IV to have built-in Silver Dawn type headlamps. The car was returned to Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1959, it is believed because it had proved insufficiently stiff, flexing severely on Iranian roads. The outcome was that the company scrapped it, though the body survives on a Phantom III chassis, which perhaps suggests that the fault lay with the chassis. The car made its way to the United States in 1982, apparently from Switzerland,[26] still with its metallic blue paint. Recent photos of it (2010)[27] exist online, but its current whereabouts are unknown.
4AF8 P4A HH Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Hakim of Kuwait H. J. Mulliner Limousine 6 light saloon 5153 / 7206 Beige and royal midnight blue Biscuit leather July 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF8.jpg
It was not fitted with a division between the front and back seats.
4AF10 P5A HRH The Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester Hooper Limousine 9663 / 8292 Black Fawn leather 1 September 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF10.jpg
According to Philip C. Brook's article "Phantoms in a Postwar World": "(...) The car was very imposing. It was also huge, and the late HRH Prince William of Gloucester told me that the family sold the car because it was too big. Delivered in 1951, it was sold in October 1960 (...)." It was later featured in the 1966 films Arabesque[28] and Fumo di Londra (Smoke over London).
4AF12 P6A Ernest Hives, director of RR, then sold to HRH The Princess Marina, The Duchess of Kent Hooper Limousine 7-seater 9719 / 8307 Blue, later repainted black Beige 1 July 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF12.jpg
According to Martin Bennett's book "Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years" (3rd edition, 2011), Ernest Hives is said to have used the car only infrequently, preferring his Bentley R Type B226WH. The car was built with a manual transmission but was converted to automatic by the end of 1953 before being sold to Princess Marina in 1954. In the collection of Ion Țiriac, Romania.
4AF14 P7A Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain H. J. Mulliner Limousine 5-seater 5035 / 7181 Black West of England beige 23 June 1952
Armored. Center armrest. This is the one normally used by heads of states during state visits to Spain.
4AF16 P8A Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain H.J. Mulliner Limousine 7-seater 5036 / 7181 Black West of England beige 11 July 1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF16.jpg
Armored. Center armrest. Usually used by the Spanish head of state for certain occasions, such as the parade of the national day of Spain.
4AF18 P9A Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain H. J. Mulliner Cabriolet 4945 / 7183 Black Green leather 28 March 1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF18.jpg
Armored. Center armrest. The only P. IV. to have all four doors hinged on their on their leading edges.
4AF20 P10A HH Aga Khan III Hooper Limousine sedanca de ville 9750 / 8293 Dark green with a sideline in light green Red leather 6 April 1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF20.jpg
When R. R. sold the car to the Aga Khan they included a clause which said he could not sell the car. However, after his death his widow sold it to the Mayfair-Lennox hotel (Missouri, USA), where it was used to pick up guests at the airport but due to the boot short capacity it was resold in 1962. The car was later repainted red but restored to its original color in 2015. In August 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, California.[29] It was estimated to sell for $850,000-1,100,000. Bidding failed to satisfy the vehicle's reserve and it left the auction unsold. It is now in the collection of Ion Țiriac and has been restored to its original two-tone green color scheme.[30]
4AF22 P11A HH The Prince Talal of Saudi Arabia Franay Cabriolet - / 7183 Cream and green; later repainted black Green leather June 1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4AF22.jpg
The only Phantom IV with a French-made coachwork. This one was listed in their works description as a sedanca de ville, but a four-door cabriolet was erected on the chassis instead.[31]
4BP1 P1B HM King Faisal II of Iraq Hooper Limousine 9890 / 8361 Black Red leather 31 March 1953 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4BP1.jpg
The series B difered in having wider eight-inch wheel rims. Made for his coronation.
4BP3 P2B HRH 'Abd al-Ilah, Prince Regent of Iraq Hooper Touring limousine 7-seater 9891 / 8370 Delivered all-black; later black over white, with black fenders,[32] and then finally the white segments painted dark blue. Light blue leather 31 March 1953 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4BP3.jpg
Built for the coronation of his nephew, King Faisal II. Years later all the royal family members were assassinated in the 1958 coup d'état. At the time of the uprising, the car was at Hooper's in London for servicing, and it was eventually sold in the USA. Displayed at The Royal Automobile Museum, Amman, Jordan.
4BP5 P3B HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom Hooper Landaulet 9941 / 8399 Claret and black Front: blue leather, rear: grey cloth 1 May 1954 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4BP5.jpg
Rolls-Royce retained this car for the exclusive use of the British Royal Family. Finally in 1959 it was purchased by the Queen. This car was built to celebrate RR Golden Jubilee, 1904 - 1954. On permanent loan at the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, Paulerspury, U.K.
4BP7 P4B HRH The Princess Margaret, The Countess of Snowdon H. J. Mulliner Limousine 7-seater 5686 / 7368 Black Beige cloth 16 July 1954 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4BP7.jpg
Purchased by Princess Margaret, she chose Pegasus designed by Edward Seago and made (by Louis Lejeune Ltd., London) as her mascot. Fitted with an adjustable seat in case the Princess wished to drive herself. The car, still in its original black color and featuring its Pegasus hood ornament, was offered for sale by The Real Car Company of Bethesda, Gwynedd, North Wales[33] in 2008. No selling price was published but the company states that it sold for "somewhere around $750,000."
4CS2 P1C HH Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Hakim of Kuwait H. J. Mulliner Limousine 6 light saloon 5724 / 7376 Two-tone green Olive green leather November 1955 Phantom IV 4CS2.jpg
The series C, to which belong only the last three P. IVs have wider front brake drums, the 33/4 in. bore, 6,515 cc version of the straight-eight engine, automatic transmission as standard and the same eight-inch wheel rims like the series B.

On display at the Nethercutt Collection, 15151 Bledsoe Street, Sylmar, CA 91342 (USA). According to a plaque in the museum, the car cost $25,000 when purchased new.

4CS4 P2C HH Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Hakim of Kuwait H. J. Mulliner Limousine 5725 / 7376 Golden copper and silver Beige leather January 1956 1955 Rolls Royce Phantom IV (4787305432).jpg
On display at Castillo Concejuelo, Biscay, Spain.
4CS6 P3C HM Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran Hooper Limousine 10177 / 8425 Black then repainted in bordeaux Grey leather 11 December 1956 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 4CS6.jpg
The figurine is standing, not kneeling. In 1977 the car was in London for "major repairs and refurbishing". After three years and a reported $25,000 worth of repairs, the car was still in the UK. There was a dispute over who owned the car; the ousted Shah or representatives of the Iranian Embassy who said it belonged to their country.[34] Finally the exiled Pahlavi family lost their claim to ownership in the British courts. Displayed at the National Car Museum of Iran.


  1. ^ (c) 1997-99 K.-J. Rossfeldt, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. "Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Photos, Reports and Books from the archives of K. J. Roßfeldt". Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Popular Science". 
  3. ^ a b James Carrington. "Rolls-Royce Phantom IV". Darkforce. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Postwar Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 18, (2008)
  5. ^ "RREC - Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club - Clan Foundry Belper". 
  6. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 204, (2008)
  7. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 171, (2008)
  8. ^ a b Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 15, (2008)
  9. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 172, (2008)
  10. ^ "Bentley Continental". 
  11. ^ "RROC(A) Library: Bert Ward on The Straight 8 Bentley". 
  12. ^ "Bentley Continental". 
  13. ^ a b c Faircount Media Group. "ISSUU - The International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Desk Diary by Faircount Media Group". Issuu. 
  14. ^ Royal Rolls Royce, The Autocar, p. 763, (7 julio 1950)
  15. ^ Bowman, Hank Wieand. "Famous old cars.". HathiTrust. 
  16. ^ a b Brooks, Philip C. (2011). Oldham, Charles, ed. "Phantoms in a Postwar World". The International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Desk Diary (Tampa, FL US: Faircount Media): 35. Retrieved 10 August 2014. (registration required (help)). 
  17. ^ a b Pigott, Peter (2005). Royal Transport: An Inside Look at the History of Royal Travel. Dundum Press. pp. 125–126. ISBN 978-1-55002-572-9. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 21, (2008)
  19. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 23, (2008)
  20. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 32, (2008)
  21. ^ "Las carrozas del Estado español, los Rolls Royce Phantom IV –". 
  22. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 48, (2008)
  23. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Postwar Phantoms IV, V, VI", pp. 48-51, (2008)
  24. ^ Faircount Media Group. "ISSUU - The International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Desk Diary by Faircount Media Group". Issuu. 
  25. ^ Buckley, Martin (2004). "1 Pomp & circumstance". Cars of the Super Rich: The Opulent, the Original and the Outrageous. St. Paul, MN USA: Motorbooks International. p. 24. ISBN 0-7603-1953-7. Retrieved 5 October 2012. The Phantom IV was the royal family's official state limousine and carried the Queen to the opening of Parliament in 1954. 
  26. ^ Trenk, Dick (6 April 2010). Bergsma, Joris; Booy, Rutger, eds. "Comes with an armed guard". Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Pre-War Post-War Publishing. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2013. One chassis was rebodied with a six seat convertible body for the Shah and because it had been at the Mulliner Park Ward body works during the overthrow, it survived. It was smuggled into Switzerland and kept hidden. 
  27. ^ Royce Phantom IV 4AF6 at auto show
  28. ^ "Internet Movie Cars Database: 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV Limousine Hooper [4AF10]". Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV -". 
  30. ^ Rolls-Royce Phantom IV wins twice in Pebble Beach -- August 2015
  31. ^ "1952 Convertible by Franay (chassis 4AF22, design 7183) for H.H. Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud". Pinterest. 5 January 2014. 
  32. ^ 2003 K.-J. Rossfeldt, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. "Car of the Month - November 2003 - Rolls-Royce Phantom IV". 
  33. ^ "Cars Sold 2009". 
  34. ^ New York Magazine: 17 March 1980. 17 March 1980. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 

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