Thanks to the wonderful Rolls-Royce documentation on file, the Phantom III Cabriolet by Park Ward on offer is understood to have had quite an auspicious first home. The honorable Peter Beatty was the younger son of Admiral of the Fleet, David Richard Beatty, and his wife Ethel (née Field.) both are distinguished in their own right. The former having served as the youngest Admiral in Royal Navy history at the age of 48 while the latter was born as the heiress to the Marshall Field’s department store fortune. After his father’s death in 1936, Peter inherited the family home at Reigate Priory in South London, where the car was first registered after being ordered on October 3rd, 1938. It would eventually be delivered on February 3rd, 1939, and is just one of 727 Phantom III’s chassis built between 1936 and 1939.
Fitted with an open cabriolet body, the trends of the time would’ve made this style a rare sight in its day. With so few having been built, the desirability of this V-12 open bodied Rolls has allowed it to remain intact to this day. As specified on the forms available, the motorcar was to be used for “Town Work and Touring.” Further, the vehicle is described to feature ‘Spare wheel carriers each side, rear bumper fittings, bonnet with flap shutters, and an end sloped at an angle of 10 degrees with 9 inches of overhang.’ Customers of elite motorcars in this period most certainly had all of their needs and desires catered to. Delivered new in a colorway similar to how the vehicle appears now, a dark, inky green paint treatment makes for a subdued, luxurious appearance.
This Phantom III endured several remarkable journeys after leaving the possession of Peter Beatty. Staying in the family, the Rolls was purchased by Captain Michael Tree, the grandson of Ethel’s former Marriage to Arthur Tree, a member of Parliament. Just 8 months later, the Phantom would end up in South Africa after being purchased by Barlow Pye. 8 years after, the American Consulate General Clifford R. Nelson brought the vehicle north to Salisbury, Rhodesia. He was the man who likely transported this Rolls-Royce onto our shores. A man named Robert Wilke of Menlo Park California would next gain the distinction of owning this wonderful motorcar. Remarkably, the car was described to have been in original condition at the time of the car’s application to the Phantom III technical society in 1974. After an unspecified amount of time, Robert Schaffner, a fellow California resident, would take possession of the car.
While some reconditioning was performed by Schaffner, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that 3 DL 118 received a full restoration. As previously mentioned, the exterior is finished in very much the same way it was delivered. The interior is now finished fully in red, with matching darker carpets. Completed to an exceptionally high standard, the motorcar presents incredibly well. The thick hides, Circassian Burr walnut trim, and chrome brightwork are all equally resplendent. To sit amongst this is to be transported back to a time. Details like the cut lenses on the rear passenger lights, the clock on the cowl, and the fine woodwork make one appreciate the craftsmanship behind such a vehicle. The exterior shows with equally incredible attention to detail. Both the glossy green paint and brightwork appear lustrous. The top is also freshly redone and will surely keep the weather from intruding while on the move. Mechanically, this Phantom III also bears the distinction of having been powered by its original motor, Z28E, from new. With immense power from its 7.3 Liter overhead-valve V12 and lighter weight coachwork, this highly engineered motorcar should have no issue keeping up with modern traffic and the exceptional quality of the restoration will surely make for a dependable touring companion.
With such a distinguished, well-documented chain of ownership, the Phantom III on offer makes for a true collectible. It’s immensely attractive coachwork, and the rarity of its body style further increases its desirability and affirms its status in the Rolls-Royce community. Its exceptionally completed restoration and matching numbers engine confirm 3 DL118 as a must-have for anyone serious about owning a truly extraordinary Rolls-Royce Phantom III.
- Exterior Colour Green
- Interior Colour Red
- Drive LHD
- Chassis Number Chassis # 3DL118