At the end of July, ‘The Great Eight Phantoms’, a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will gather together the greatest Phantoms from the last 92 years in Mayfair, London. The Exhibition will also welcome the next generation of this most celebrated luxury item, the new eighth generation Phantom.
It is with great pleasure that the marque announces today that the Rolls-Royce Phantom III of British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery will join the Exhibition.
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery was one of the most decorated military officers of the 20th century, most noted for his part in the first major Allied land victory at El Alamein, Egypt, in 1942, and his great contributions to the Allies’ success on D-Day in 1944. During his military career, Montgomery earned the nickname ‘The Spartan General’ due to his austere lifestyle and the strict standards of discipline he imposed on his men both on- and off the field.
However, there was one area of his life where he demanded the very best – his personal transport. And his preference was for Rolls-Royce.
During World War Two, the Field Marshal had the use of three Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs – making for a triple-dose of high-end military transport like no other Allied (or Axis) leader during the Second World War.
The third-generation Phantom was the first to be powered by an incredibly smooth 7338cc V12 engine, with a (then) revolutionary overhead-camshaft design, hydraulic tappets and a twin-ignition system. More importantly, this was the last car that Henry Royce worked on – he died, aged 70, a year into the Phantom III’s development.
The first of the Phantom IIIs, a 1936 model coachbuilt by Freestone & Webb, was owned by the head of English Talbot Motor Company, Frederick Wilcock, before being requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport Section. Montgomery used it as his personal transport in the run up to D-Day, and ferried historic figures like Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower and King George VI to D-Day planning sessions at his base in Southwick House, Hampshire.
The second of the Phantom IIIs was a 1937 Phantom Coupe coachbuilt by Vesters and Neirinck of Brussels, used by the King of Belgium and other members of the royal family before the Second World War. The car is believed to be the first-ever Phantom designed without a B-pillar, and is also the only known Phantom III to come with a factory-fitted tachometer. Montgomery used this as his personal transport in Brussels after Belgium was liberated in 1944.
A keen believer in the power of the image, Montgomery used his Rolls-Royce Phantoms to communicate permanence, solidarity and reliability – a signal to his men that he was there to stay.
But it was the ‘Butler’ Phantom III, which will be present at the ‘Great Eight Phantoms’ Exhibition in London that proved to be Montgomery’s favourite. This particular Phantom was commissioned for Alan Samuel Butler, Chairman of the De Havilland Aircraft Company, with bodywork by HJ Mulliner of Chiswick.
Its most striking feature was a front-sloping windscreen that made the car 15 per cent more aerodynamically efficient than the standard configuration. The motor car’s slippery nature was also helped by the enclosed spare tyre and swept tail.
After the war, Montgomery served as chief of the Imperial General Staff, and later as deputy to Dwight D. Eisenhower, at NATO. The ‘Butler’ Phantom III was Montgomery’s main official mode of transport for many years, visiting eminent addresses as 10 Downing Street, the War Office on Whitehall, the British Prime Minister’s country residence Chequers, and military operations centres such as Northwood in Hertfordshire and the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers-Europe in Rocquencourt, near Versailles, France.
The ‘Butler’ Phantom III has recently undergone extensive refurbishment at Rolls-Royce specialist P&A Wood in Essex, England.
‘The Great Eight Phantoms’ Exhibition will be the first and only opportunity for members of the public to see this amazing Rolls-Royce before it attends the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the United States in August, after which it will return to its current owner’s private collection.
‘The Great Eight Phantoms’, a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will take place in Mayfair, London, at the end of July this year.