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Coachwork by H.J. Mulliner
According to copies of the original Rolls-Royce factory production records, this particularly fascinating example – numbered 17 TA – was ordered by Rolls-Royce agent H.R. Owen on October 2, 1934. A lateproduction, right-hand-drive T2-Series Phantom II Continental based on the 144” “Long-Short” chassis, 17 TA came off test on December 10, 1934, and, two days later, it was delivered to Gurney Nutting and fitted with formal Sedanca de Ville coachwork. On April 8, 1935, it was purchased by legendary Australian confectioner and philanthropist Sir Macpherson Robertson, whose company eventually formed part of Cadbury Schweppes. As the factory records state, 17 TA was intended for use in the “UK and abroad – Town and Touring.”
Subsequent history is contained within the chassis index cards maintained by the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club (RROC). According to these records, the Continental arrived in the US later in 1935, and its next recorded owner was Martin Vogel, who lived at 1 Park Avenue in New York City. A Columbia University-educated lawyer specializing in banking, corporate, and business law, Mr. Vogel was also an Assistant US Treasurer and Executive Director of the New York Evening Post. In September 1938, 17 TA was appraised at $3,000 to $3,500 for the Vogel Estate and then it passed through Packard Co. to J.S. Inskip – the New York Rolls-Royce distributor, which by then was effectively the main Rolls-Royce presence in America – on September 23, 1940.
At Inskip’s facilities during the 1940s, the original Gurney Nutting Sedanca de Ville body of 17 TA was removed and replaced by the considerably more sporting H.J. Mulliner-built Three-Position Sedanca Coupe body that had been originally fitted to 123 TA, another T2-Series Phantom II that was also at Inskip’s at the time. When new, 123 TA was purchased by The Right Honourable Lord Doverdale, the British pulp-and-paper magnate and politician, who of course bought only the best. Eventually, 123 TA made its way to the US and Miss Ruth Hitchcock of New York. RROC records indicate that Miss Hitchcock, who would soon become Mrs. Ruth Hitchcock Stewart, acquired the car now on offer, 17 TA, on March 17, 1941, and she commissioned J.S. Inskip to eventually fit the body of 123 TA to 17 TA. The original body of 17 TA was then fitted to 220 AMS, a left-hand-drive chassis that is also well known in RROC circles.
The next recorded owner of 17 TA was Edwin S. Keeley, a resident of Washington, D.C., who is recorded as having acquired the car in fall 1948; and he eventually sold it to David F. Martin, who in turn sold the car to Warren K. Cooley in 1959. In 1961, prolific Bentley and Rolls-Royce collector Roy G. Wild of Bellevue, Ohio, purchased 17 TA. In 2012, the consignor acquired 17 TA from the Estate Trustee of Mr. Wild.
As now offered, 17 TA is complete with copies of both the original Rolls-Royce production records and the RROC index cards for 17 TA and 123 TA. Continuing to benefit from an older restoration that has obviously been well maintained with a recent cosmetic refurbishment under the current owner, 17 TA has received an exterior refinish, polished wood veneer, new carpeting, and a new folding top. The engine displays excellent compression, and the car is noted by the consignor to be in superb mechanical condition, commensurate with the good care it has obviously received from new. In testament to its present state, 17 TA was recently driven on a test run of approximately 150 miles without complaint. Well presented and in sound operating condition, it will certainly provide both a wonderful local concours entry and an immensely satisfying touring experience for its new caretaker.