19th Oct, 2022 13:00

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Lot 6

1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sedanca Coupe
No Reserve

Sold for £191,250

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: BGJ 602
Chassis No: 175RY
MOT: Exempt

  • Original and very stylish Sedanca Coupe coachwork by H. J. Mulliner
  • One of only 279 Continental specification Phantom IIs manufactured and boasting matching chassis and engine numbers
  • Rolls-Royce Enthusiast Club award winner during current ownership
  • Supplied to the celebrated dance band leader and violinist, Bert Ambrose by Jack Barclay in January 1935
  • Known history from new and previously in the ownership of the well-renowned London Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists, Frank Dale & Stepsons, for some 25 years
  • Offered at 'No Reserve' from the late Robert Riding’s Estate, the vast majority of which has been left to charity with the RNLI as the predominant beneficiary

'Powerful, docile, delightfully easy to control and a thoroughbred, it behaves in a manner which is difficult to convey without seeming to over-praise,' (The Motor magazine’s conclusion after testing a Phantom II Continental in March 1934).

France’s enviable network of Route Nationales was used by both W.O. Bentley and Henry Royce to test the mettle (and metal) of their prototypes. Indeed, it was a high-speed encounter with a fledgling Rolls-Royce New Phantom that reputedly convinced W.O. to increase the engine capacity of his first six-cylinder offering to 6½ litres. Conscious that a number of ‘owner/drivers’ preferred the more sporting mien of a Bentley, Royce and one of his development engineers Ivan Evernden set about developing a higher performance and more responsive version of the recently introduced 7.7 litre Phantom II. Christened the Continental in recognition of its high-speed touring capabilities, the newcomer debuted during late 1930 (just in time to go head-to-head with the equally impressive Bentley 8 Litre). Sat on a shorter wheelbase chassis (144in), it also featured a higher rear axle ratio, lowered steering column and revised rear suspension when compared to the standard model. Often hailed as the ultimate six-cylinder Rolls-Royce and notable as the last design to be overseen by Henry Royce himself, the Phantom II Continental was prodigiously expensive with many examples costing £2,500 or more once completed (the equivalent to six or seven averaged-priced houses at the time!) Sold to a ‘Who’s Who’ of contemporary society, the 270 examples made were owned by the likes of: Sir Malcolm Campbell, Woolf Barnato, Prince Ali Khan, the Prince of Nepal, various members of the British nobility, the Rothschilds, the Maharajas of Bahawalpur and Jodhpur, N S Gulbenkian and Noel Coward.

According to its accompanying RREC copy build sheets, chassis 175RY was specified for use in the ‘UK and on the Continent. Both Fast Touring’. Intended like most such owner/driver machines to typically carry two people (but capable of accommodating five), its supremely elegant Sedanca Coupe coachwork was crafted by H.J. Mulliner. A Three-Position Drophead Coupe in all but name, the Rolls-Royce was supplied new via Jack Barclay Ltd of Hanover Square, W1 to Richard Tredenham Fox-Carlyon Esq of Costislost, Washaway, Cornwall who was a mere twenty-two years old at the time. Among the county’s largest landowners whose fortunes had been bolstered by various tin mines, the Carlyon family may have found the Phantom II Continental unwieldy on Cornwall’s tight and twisty roads because it was returned to Jack Barclay Ltd a matter of months later. The Sedanca Coupe’s second owner was the renowned dance band leader Bert Ambrose Esq. who had it repainted Black with a contrasting coachline before taking delivery during January 1935 with the balance of the manufacturer’s original guarantee intact. Alternating residencies between The Embassy Club and The May Fair Hotel during the 1930s and typically paid £10,000 per year or more for his services, Ambrose part-exchanged a Bentley Speed Six Coupe and paid a further £1,700 to acquire chassis 175RY! Obviously much taken with the Rolls-Royce, the dance band leader kept it for eighteen years by which time changing musical tastes had reduced his income.

Briefly owned by Frederick Maurice who gave his address as The Athenaeum Club, Waterloo Place, London W1, the Phantom II Continental belonged to James George Tuddenham of Cawston, Norfolk from 1954 until 1969. Apparently little used towards the end of his tenure, the Sedanca Coupe was bought by the renowned Rolls-Royce dealer Frank Dale and retained by his stepson, Ivor Gordon, for the next twenty-five years; a testament to how special they both felt chassis 175RY to be. Mechanically recommissioned by marque specialist Jack Humphrey at the heady cost (in 1969) of £367, the imposing Three Position Drophead Coupe became a familiar sight at RREC gatherings during the 1970s and 1980s. Entrusted to Michael Walker’s Garage for a thorough engine overhaul, partial rewiring and exhaust repairs during 1984 at a cost of a further £13,000, the by now Powder Blue Phantom II Continental joined New Zealander Roy Southward’s stable a decade later.

A capable restorer who ran the family engineering business and whose father had founded the Southward Car Museum on Kapiti Coast, Roy had the Rolls-Royce refinished in its current Dark Blue livery. Invoices on file attest to further New Zealand maintenance prior to the Sedanca Coupe being repatriated in 2001. Offered for sale by the famous marque specialist P&A Wood the next year, chassis 175RY joined the late Robert Furniss Riding’s collection during January 2003. Awarded The Peter Blond Trophy at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club’s Annual Rally a few months later, the 2005 running of the same event saw the H.J. Mulliner-bodied masterpiece claim a Class Prize for Elegance and judged the second most elegant attendee. Entrusted by the late Mr Riding to J & M Bentley and Partners for some £7,352 worth of fettling during 2003, a new tonneau cover and headlining were fitted with attention also being paid to the carpets, leather upholstery, paintwork, cooling system and general mechanics etc. Repainted in 2018 at a cost of £12,730, more recent work has seen the Sedanca Coupe benefit from a new condenser / spark plugs, replacement oil strainer gasket and lubrication service etc.

Accompanying paperwork includes the aforementioned RREC copy build cards plus an original specification book and handbook; pictures from different times; documentation and pictures relating to Bert Ambrose’s ownership; a very large quantity of invoices from various stages of the Phantom’s life; a good number of previous MOTs dating back to 1970; technical literature; RF60 ‘Buff’ logbook and copies of previous logbooks; and a current V5C document. The Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental had some claim to being the very best car money could buy when new. This example, with its beautifully proportioned H.J. Mulliner coachwork, is among the most stylish we have encountered and surely worthy of a place in another world class collection. A fabulous opportunity.

About Robert Furniss Riding:

Born in 1940, the only child of only children parents, Bob was educated at Stockport Grammar School then read natural sciences at Christ Church, Oxford. He joined William Deacon’s Bank, and had a stellar ascent through it and its subsequent iterations ending up as Group Treasurer of the Royal Bank of Scotland. He grasped the opportunity of early retirement in 1990 and moved to the Isle of Man where he had been left a house by an aunt. But Bob was far from being inactive, throwing himself into the local community and taking on the turnaround of a local private bank as its Executive Chairman.

Sailing had been a preoccupation during his time in the City, but on coming to the Isle of Man, Bob switched his energies and focus to collecting “quality cars” – principally the products of Cricklewood, Derby and Crewe, but with some maverick exceptions such as Maserati and Caterham. Daimlers and Lanchesters also featured, and he had to move to a large country house to find garaging for the ever-growing collection. His cars were regularly campaigned at rallies for the appropriate marque and were often deserved winners of various trophies. He also got involved in the relevant enthusiast clubs, usually ending up as Chairman – and his list of appointments included the Chairmanship of the Manx Classic Car Club and the Manx Motor Racing Club.

Bob was always a keen supporter of local charities, particularly maritime and those involving young people, and many will have cause to remember with gratitude his generosity and his apparently bottomless well of technical knowledge on “quality cars”, so freely shared. Bob left his Estate predominantly to Charity with the RNLI being the Residuary Beneficiary. Thus, in effect, the entire proceeds of the car collection sale will be received by the RNLI.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Cheetham
07538 667452


All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


Auction: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 19th Oct, 2022

An auction of classic & collector motorcars


Tuesday 18th October 2022 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 19th October 2022 from 9am
Additional viewing for lots 200-254 on Thursday 20th October 2022 from 9am

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