Phantom III Sedanca de Ville

A 1934 Phantom III Sedanca de Ville with a body by coachbuilder Park Ward.

The Phantom III—produced from 1936 to 1939 — was the marque’s first car to carry a V-12. The engine was a smaller precursor to the Rolls-Royce Merlin, which served as the heart of Britain’s air force during WWII, including the power behind the Spitfire fighter.

The moniker “Sedanca de Ville" referenced a body style that presented a dual personality. “The roof over the chauffeur was soft and could be removed or retracted, while the back of the body generally had a solid roof," explains Austin. “And to show you how times change, the driver’s seat in a Sedanca was leather for durability, but the passenger compartment almost always featured cloth fabric because it was considered more plush, luxurious and cooler. Now when buying a fancy car, the first thing you want is leather."

The specific Phantom III that Taylor ranks in his top 10 had its body constructed by Thrupp & Mayberly, the same coachbuilder commissioned by Queen Victoria. “Clean, flowing forms suggest that the most important people are comfortably seated in the rear," says Taylor. “It’s the quintessential expression of chauffeur-driven elegance."

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Published November 30, 2017
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