Rolls-Royce is gearing up to unleash a new Phantom later this year, and has big plans for the celebration. The brand will be rolling out legendary past examples in Mayfair, London, including Hollywood heroes and ex-military workhorses. Now, Rolls-Royce has revealed that a Phantom II owned by Sir Malcolm Campbell, racer and land-speed vehicle pilot, will also be on show.
There's no doubt Sir Malcolm Campbell is an absolute legend of motorsports. He'd broken the land speed record six times, won Grand Prix races and earned a knighthood by the start of 1933, but that wasn't enough to satisfy the tireless Brit. Determined to one-up his previous efforts, Campbell set his sights on cracking the then-unbroken 300 mph (483 km/h) barrier.
The engine he chose to (hopefully) propel the Blue Bird past that mark was a Rolls-Royce Aero R engine with 2,300 hp (1,715 kW) of power on tap. Late in February of 1933, Blue Bird set a new land speed record of 272 mph (438 km/h) at Daytona Beach – not quite 300 mph, that would have to wait until 1935 – but still unbelievably fast.
To celebrate the new record, he bought a Phantom II Continental with AGO 1 as the numberplate. No Rolls-Royce is small, but the Continental ran with a shorter wheelbase and unique suspension compared to the regular Phantom II. Both changes were designed to make the car feel sportier, something Campbell clearly appreciated.
According to Rolls, the blue car you see above was capable of topping 95 mph (153 km/h) in a straight line, in spite of its 2.5-ton curb weight. It was built with a body from Barker, but Campbell did order a few modifications befitting the World Land Speed Record holder. Along with a wireless (radio) set, AGO 1 had a fire extinguisher, nine-inch extension on the exhaust, two horns and a siren. Clearly, he wanted people to know he was coming.
As you'd expect of a car designed for the Blue Bird pilot, the Phantom was finished in pale blue on the outside, with a dark blue interior finish. The shiny, pearlescent finish comes (reportedly) from ground herring scales integrated into the paint, something that perhaps precedes the current array of bespoke options.
Sir Malcolm Campbell's Phantom II Continental will be on show at "The Great Eight Phantoms" exhibition, starting on July 27 this year. The exhibition will be held in Mayfair, London.