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Coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly
Formerly the Property of Tyrone Power | First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'EleganceRowland Smith, Kent, United Kingdom (acquired new via Rootes Group in 1934)Anthony H. Bisby, United Kingdom (acquired from the above in 1937)David Ickeringill, United Kingdom (acquired from the above in 1955)Tyrone Power, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 1956)John H. Spring, California (acquired from the above in 1958)Fred Buess and family, Idyllwild, California (acquired from the above in 1958)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
RROC West Coast Meet, Lake Tahoe, California, June 1964 (Second in Class)RROC West Coast Meet, Monterey, California, August 1979Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, August 2010 (First in Class)
Rolls-Royce developed the Phantom II Continental for customers who sought to own a prestigious automobile that combined high-speed touring capabilities with the utmost in comfort and quality. Built on a shortened chassis, with a specially tuned engine and revised suspension, the Continental was a capable luxury motorcar with performance to match the finest sporting machines of the day. In total, just 278 of the 1,680 Phantom II chassis built between 1929 and 1936 were to Continental specification, a figure that speaks to their relative exclusivity and purposeful nature.
Connoisseurs of fine automobiles have always admired the Phantom II Continental, and the model is held in the highest regard among marque specialists. Longtime Rolls-Royce dealer Frank Dale and Stepsons of London once printed, “To improve upon perfection may be an impossibility, but this Phantom II seemed to do. The Continental was conceived from the outset to be an enthusiastic owner-driver’s motorcar. There can be no question of its ranking in the very forefront of the world’s great automobiles. And it is one of the few, the very few, that are entitled to the appellation: Grand Touring.”
The Phantom II Continental presented here, 2SK, is a rare example of this thoroughbred Rolls-Royce, distinguished by its one-of-a-kind Thrupp & Maberly coachwork, rich history, and exceptional provenance.
2SK was the first of the improved SK series of Continental chassis, introduced late in the model’s limited production run. Intended for use as a fast touring car in the UK and on the continent, this chassis was originally specified with an F-rake positioned steering wheel and an exhaust pipe that was 9" longer than standard.
The completed chassis, sent of-test on June 8, 1934, was delivered to Thrupp & Maberly, a prominent London-based coachbuilder specializing in luxury bodies for Bentley, Daimler, and Rolls-Royce chassis. According to Rolls- Royce factory records, 2SK was originally built to the order of Rowland Smith, a director of the Rootes Group – the British automobile conglomerate that had acquired Thrupp & Maberly in 1926.
Undoubtedly influenced by the latest American and European styling trends, Thrupp & Maberly designed a one-of-a-kind two-seater drophead coupe for 2SK. The result is one of the most exotic and sporting bodies ever executed for a Phantom II Continental, featuring a low, raked windscreen; cut-down doors; skirted fenders; and a long, sweeping tail with an integrated dickey seat. Not only was the Thrupp & Maberly coachwork quite striking in appearance, it made 2SK a real rarity as one of perhaps two or three Phantom II Continentals originally fitted with open two-seater coachwork.
Upon completion in August 1934, 2SK was delivered – in what appears to have been a promotional stratagem – to Sir Auckland Campbell-Geddes, a well-known British academic, soldier, politician, and diplomat. Sir Auckland, who had served as both president of the Board of Trade and British ambassador to the US, was a loyal Rolls-Royce customer, as was his brother Sir Eric. Between them, the Geddes brothers owned a 20/25, two Phantom IIIs, and at least four Silver Ghosts.
Sir Auckland enjoyed the use of the new Phantom II Drophead Coupe while touring Europe on a diplomatic mission, and then he returned it to Rowland Smith in October 1934. In 1937, Anthony H. Bisby, the proprietor of a cutlery manufacturer, acquired 2SK, and it remained in his hands until 1955, when it was sold to David Ickeringill.
In 1956, famed Hollywood actor Tyrone Power was spending a great deal of time in the UK, starring as Dick Dudgeon in a revival of George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple, shooting a film in London, and courting Swedish actress Mai Zetterling. It was during this time that Power purchased 2SK, a car perfectly suited for a glamorous Hollywood actor with English roots. The Continental was then registered as “TP-1” in the UK, and before exporting it to his home in California, Power sent the car to the Rolls-Royce factory for servicing and repairs.
While in Power’s ownership, 2SK graced the pages of Road & Track magazine, serving as a proud representative for the Phantom II line in the August 1957 Salon feature. The elegant Rolls-Royce remained in Power’s hands until his death in 1958.
Later that year, Fred Buess, a young Rolls-Royce enthusiast living in Southern California, traded a Silver Ghost for 2SK. Amazingly, the Thrupp & Maberly Drophead Coupe remained in Mr. Buess’ hands for more than 50 years and was the undisputed centerpiece of his private collection. During his five decades of ownership, Mr. Buess drove 2SK to college, enjoyed it on many family outings, and displayed it with pride at Rolls-Royce Meets.
In 2008, the Buess family, who had transformed their hobby into a successful Rolls-Royce restoration business, began a sympathetic restoration of the prized Phantom II Continental. As the car had been meticulously maintained throughout Mr. Buess’ ownership, little more than paintwork, upholstery, and plating were required to return 2SK to its original splendor.
A proud testament to the quality and accuracy of its presentation, 2SK earned First in Class honors in its post-restoration debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® in August 2010. Carefully maintained and selectively displayed in its current ownership, the Continental remains in outstanding condition throughout and is poised for success in future concours outings.
Of the 278 Phantom II Continentals built, 2SK is surely among the finest surviving examples. Not only is this a well-documented and beautifully restored Rolls-Royce, its spectacular one-of Thrupp & Maberly coachwork – built to special order for a director of the Rootes Group – makes this one of the most rare and sporting of all Phantoms. Furthermore, its superb provenance, which includes Hollywood legend Tyrone Power and noted marque specialist Fred Buess, places 2SK in a class of its own.
Given its extraordinary qualities, the appearance of this car at auction represents an exciting opportunity for the devoted Rolls-Royce enthusiast who has always dreamed of owning a unique and historically significant example of the legendary Phantom II Continental.