Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by James Young
Mrs. Elsie Tritton, London, England (acquired new)J. Seward Johnson, US (acquired from the above in 1971)Danny Donovan, London, England (acquired from the above in 1988)Private Collection, Connecticut (acquired from the above in 1995)Harry Clark, Temecula, California (acquired from the above in 1999)Daniel Lee Stephenson, Murrieta, California (acquired from the above in 2005)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2008)
Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, Palos Verdes, California, September 2009 (First in Class)La Jolla Motor Car Classic, La Jolla, California, January 2010 (First in Class)Del Mar Concours d’Elegance, Del Mar, California, October 2010 (Best in Show)Desert Classic, Palm Springs, California, February 2011 (First in Class)Southern California Rolls-Royce Owners' Club “Picnic with the Ponies,”Santa Anita, California, April 2011 (First in Class)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Pebble Beach, California, August 2014 (First in Class)
In 1959, the Phantom V replaced the rarest Rolls-Royce of all: the massive straight-eight powered Phantom IV, a formal 145" wheelbase car built only for heads of state.
When the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith was discontinued, demand remained for a limousine-worthy chassis. The Phantom V’s newly designed 144" wheelbase chassis was powered with the new V-8 engine, paired with the General Motors-patented Hydra-Matic transmission with servo-assisted braking. The lightest Phantom Vs exceeded three tons when bodied; however, the boosted brake power enabled the driver to safely slow and stop the massive car.
Exactly 832 Phantom Vs were built. Just 108 were fitted with James Young coachwork, the option most highly favored by many collectors, as the coachbuilder successfully created a streamlined body for the largest of the postwar Rolls- Royce. As every Phantom model was built to order, no two are exactly alike. Yet, all share the same fine craftsmanship, attention to detail, and luxurious appointments providing the ultimate in passenger amenities.
According to James Young records, 5AT76 was built to order for Elsie Tritton, wife of Robert Tritton, a fine arts and antiques dealer. They lived in two residences, one in London on Grosvenor Square and the other a 2,100 acre estate near Canterbury. Mrs. Tritton submitted a detailed list of her special requirements to James Young’s Chief Designer A.E. McNail and General Manager B.O. Davis. The paintwork was to be Midnight Blue with white fine coach lines, which she later had changed to gold. The chauffeur’s compartment was to be upholstered in Connolly leather, with the passenger compartment in a rare beige striped William Planes wool twill, beige carpets, and burl walnut veneered cabinetry and trim. In place of the standard fold-out “opera” seats, she requested a pair of cabinets fitted with crystal decanters and glasses, and smokers’ accoutrements, all finished in polished burl walnut inside and out. Twin picnic trays completed the unit. Mrs. Tritton ordered the radio placed to her right, along with a cleverly fitted burl-wood lined center armrest that contained a leather-bound vanity mirror, cigarette case and lighter, burl handle brush, and a leather notebook with pen.
The finished car was delivered as requested to Mrs. Tritton’s estate on January 21, 1961, “promptly” at 11:30 am as written in a James Young memo. Her Rolls- Royce trained chauffeur received the car complete with its “vanity plates,” registration number ET36. It was said that those who noticed the car assumed it was Elizabeth Taylor’s.
Mrs. Tritton used the car as her primary form of transport. She maintained it to her high standards, even returning the car to James Young for a restoration about 10 years after she purchased it. In 1971, the Phantom V was sold to J. Seward Johnson, chairman of Johnson & Johnson, and was transported to the US. Four additional collectors enjoyed the car before it was acquired in 2008 by its current owner, who had some restoration work conducted by Dan Collins, a former Rolls-Royce technician in San Diego that worked at Symbolic Motors and later Carlsbad British Motorcars. A marque expert, Collins, was tasked with correcting any flaws he might find, restoring all components using proper Rolls-Royce NOS parts.
An extensive and meticulously assembled leather-bound journal containing rare photos, Rolls-Royce and James Young records, and ownership records and history accompany the car, along with complete hand and road tools, owner’s manual, original James Young literature, and the Pebble Beach First in Class Award badge.
From its pristine undercarriage to its meticulously presented engine compartment, to the exquisitely restored and tastefully accessorized interior, it could be argued this is the finest Phantom V in existence. Rolls-Royce specialists who judged the car in August 2014 confirmed its impeccable condition, and awarded it the highest score: First Place, Best in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2014. For the serious collector, this is an opportunity simply not to be missed.