12 cylinder 60 degree V configuration
A single dry plate type clutch, four speeds and reverse
Pressed steel, parallel girder with channel and tubular crossmembers
Wheelbase 142 inches
Early models max speed 92 mph (148 km/h) later models max speed 101 mph (163 km.
0 - 60 16.8 seconds.
With the production of the new car, the highest position in the top level of motor car manufacture was achieved once again. This position was to be as dominant as it had been during the era of the Silver Ghost.
Almost inaudible and free from vibrations,the
engine revved up from any level and accelerated with an energy that seemed
to be unimpaired by the weight and dimensions of the big automobile. At
a time when most other companies fought a constant battle against blithe
unconcern demonstrated by demanding designers,Rolls-Royce
continued to let
theirs work regardless of expense.
It was not long after delivery of
the first Phantom IIIs that complaints started
to be received from owners who were using
their cars as serious high speed tourers. The new German autobahnen and
Italian autostrade offered stretches of road which permitted any driver
to travel at top speed for long distances and for extended periods. These
were ones that could not have been visualised by designers when they were planning the
new cars of the time, and they resulted in heat-related failure of the engines.
Rolls-Royce could not avoid facing
the problem because many of these new cars had been exported to the mainland
of Europe and owners from Great Britain also drove on these new highways
during their continental tours. As a result owners
were strictly advised that the Phantom III allowed a top speed of no more
than 75-80 mph to
be maintained continuously without risk of engine failure, higher speeds
would only be tolerated for shorter distances.
The response to the solicitous warning was not received in the spirit in which it was given. Several quarters reproached Rolls-Royce for admitting that the car publicised as the best car in the world was technically imperfect. To overcome this probelm, in 1938 a modification was introduced in the form of what was referred to as an overdrive- in fact only a fourthgear of higher ratio than hitherto - which reduced engine speed to less damaging levels.
Despite their best efforts, the Phantom III remained dogged by stories of technical complications. Repair after failure cost such enormous amounts that even wealthy owners noticed the expenditure. This is undoubtedly why Rolls-Royce did not achieve the hoped for success for the model, only 727 Phantom IIIs being manufactured. Outside the United Kingdom only 173 of these were sold. Of these 65 examples went to what should have been a large American market; this was twice as much as France, where 32 Phantom IIIs were sent, although not all of these remained in that country.
A check through the chassis cards
of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club shows that customers for Phantom III
were usually elderly; the buyers' average
age was more than sixty. Those cars which
were ordered for use at official state occasions, as State Limousines,
for example, are not included. Beside the shortcomings mentioned above,
a further reason
for the sluggish sales might have been that the big Rolls-Royce built up a reputation as a
proper means of transport only for the old and the rich.
Today, the earlier view has been
replaced, the Phantom III being held in very great esteem as an engineering
creation. More than 80 per cent of the Phantom IIIs built have survived
and this car is considered
amongst the most sought after of all the Rolls-Royces.Thanks
to the activities of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd in England and the USA
Phantom III Technical Society continued use of these cars in the intended manner is now assured. Needless to say, as was the case when the cars were new, Phantom III owners need to be amongst the better heeled!