Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi
The Prince of Nepal, England (acquired new in March 1932)C. Arnold, United Kingdom (acquired circa 1945)J. Adams, United Kingdom (acquired circa 1946)Captain Frederick Henry, Gloucestershire, England (acquired in 1947)Jack Bond, Vintage Autos of London, Hollywood, California (acquired in 1957)D.I. Buchanan, Claremont, California (acquired from the above in 1958)Robert P. Meyerhoff, Pasadena, California (acquired April 1961)George Rabinoff, Los Angeles, California (acquired circa 1977)Jeffrey K. Davis, Bombay, India (acquired December 1985)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2010)
The Deauville Concours d’Elegance, Deauville, France, July 1939Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meeting, Monterey, California, 1991 (Chief Judge’s Choice)The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1991 (Exhibited)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1992 (Lucius Beebe Memorial Trophy)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2015 (Jack Nethercutt Trophy for Most Elegant Closed Car)Arizona Concours d’Elegance, Phoenix, Arizona, January 2016 (Best in Class, Exceptional Cars of Great Britain)
As the successor to the Phantom I in 1929, the Phantom II was in fact a radical redesign by Rolls-Royce standards, and it marks the last series designed and developed under the guidance of company co-founder Henry Royce. Lower than its predecessors and purpose-built to suit the crop of sportier body styles newly available from the custom coachbuilders, the Phantom II ushered in a new era at Rolls-Royce. Accordingly, the Phantom II chassis was quite sophisticated, with semi-elliptical leaf springs all around, adjustable shock absorbers, and an underslung rear axle. The powerful 7.7-liter engine was a paragon of refinement featuring a modern crossflow cylinder head, new combustion chambers, and improved manifolds, while the gearbox now offered synchronized third and top gears.
Designed and purpose-built for wealthy and adventurous owners who chose to actually drive their Rolls-Royce, the sporting Phantom II Continental debuted in late 1930, with H.I.F. “Ivan” Evernden collaborating in its development with Henry Royce. Upgrades applied to the Continental included a modified engine equipped with a higher-lift camshaft and increased compression, a taller rear-axle ratio, flatter springs for a lower stance and sportier handling, twin Hartford auxiliary dampers up front for ride control, and a raked steering column.
Capable of approaching 100 mph, the Phantom II Continental delivered high-speed, long-distance touring worthy of its name. Pricier, sportier, and rare, with just 281 built, the Phantom II Continental delivered panache and performance. Equally important, the Continental was perfectly suited for daring coachwork, with its iconic Rolls-Royce radiator shell in line with the front axle and a dramatically long hood. The chassis provided uncommon freedom for the finest coachbuilders, and without doubt, many of the most inspired and visually stimulating body designs ever to emanate from France during that era were the products of the successful collaboration of Figoni et Falaschi.
Designer Joseph Figoni had partnered with Ovidio Falaschi, a successful Italian businessman, who provided working capital, business acumen, and design input. Soon after, Figoni was introduced to famed French artist Georges “Géo Ham” Hamel, or at least to his work, with accounts varying as to the extent that Hamel played in the creation of the new Streamline Moderne aesthetic. Nonetheless, his forward-thinking design language was well-regarded and certainly a credible source of inspiration. Another major influence on Figoni’s designs was the new crop of fast, streamlined aircraft of the 1930s.
This Continental, chassis 2MS, was built with saloon-type coachwork by Windovers and delivered in May 1932 to the prince of Nepal, who was then living in exile in England. Interestingly, the prince took delivery after three months during which time the Continental was used as a factory demonstrator in exchange for a 5% discount upon delivery. By 1936, the prince, a Francophile now primarily residing at the luxurious Hotel George V in Paris, had become acquainted with the rolling sculptures emanating from the workshops of Figoni et Falaschi.
Seeking a truly modern reinterpretation of his Rolls by 1936/1937, the prince commissioned Figoni et Falaschi to rebody his Phantom II Continental as a Pillarless Berline. In the process, 2MS marked two firsts, as the largest automobile bodied by the renowned French coachbuilder and the only body it ever produced for a Rolls-Royce Phantom II. While certainly interesting, these highlights were, and continue to be, vastly overshadowed by Figoni et Falaschi’s uncanny ability to translate contemporary sports-car design cues and wind-cheating aerodynamics to the sizable proportions of the Continental chassis. Featuring beautifully streamlined bodylines with pillarless construction, fully skirted rear fenders, a spacious rear-passenger compartment, and wonderful Art Moderne accents and details throughout the interior, 2MS epitomized prewar styling.
Following completion of his reborn Continental, the prince entered it into the Deauville Concours d’Elegance in July 1939, where it earned great acclaim and notoriety. While it is unknown if the prince retained 2MS through WWII, the singular Figoni et Falaschi Continental was passed by 1945 through the ownership of C. Arnold and then J. Adams, of the Adams and Oliver Rolls-Royce dealership in England. Circa 1947, 2MS was acquired by Captain Frederick Henry, a colorful antique dealer and prolific motoring enthusiast from Gloucestershire, who traded an incredibly rare and valuable Bugatti Royale for this very special Rolls-Royce.
Around 1955, the Continental was shipped to the US and sold there, with its roster of keepers including D.I. Buchanan, Robert Meyerhoff, and Los Angeles dairy businessman George Rabinoff, a Rolls-Royce aficionado who by 1979 was the financial backer of the James Young Coachworks Rolls-Royce restoration shop in Van Nuys. There, 2MS was disassembled for cosmetic restoration, with the mechanicals remaining sound and intact. Mr. Rabinoff’s passing led to the offering of 2MS by his estate, with the car being sold in December 1985 to Jeffrey K. Davis, an Englishman residing in Bombay, India. Mr. Davis commissioned the restoration of 2MS, which was completed in 1991 by Tyree Restorations. Following completion, 2MS was exhibited by Mr. Davis at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® in August 1991. At the 1991 Monterey Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club Meeting, 2MS earned the Chief Judges Choice Award. The Continental returned to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® in 1992, this time capturing the Lucius Beebe Memorial Trophy.
The current owner acquired 2MS in 2010, and enlisted the Buess family’s T C Restoration to perform a complete repaint, improve panel fits, and replate some of the car’s brightwork. T C Restoration detailed the chassis and then installed authentic Rolls-Royce parts and hardware in place of any non-authentic installations, including the proper Continental exhaust system. Importantly, Mr. Buess has personally known 2MS for the past 40 years, and under his care, it won Most Elegant Closed Car at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®.
The subject of numerous articles and documented in authoritative Rolls-Royce texts, 2MS is accompanied with copies of its factory build record and Schoellkopf card listing its known provenance from new. A one of one Phantom II Continental by renowned coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi, it is a true landmark of prewar styling and engineering in every respect.