The Rolls-Royce Phantom III stands out as one of the most remarkable luxury cars of the 1930s. Unveiled in 1936, this distinguished vehicle, equipped with a 7,340cc V12 engine, succeeded the Phantom II, whose six-cylinder engine had reached the end of its developmental lifespan. Rolls-Royce’s decision to opt for a V12 configuration was a strategic one, given the company’s extensive experience in manufacturing V12 aero engines, including those used in groundbreaking aircraft like the Supermarine S6B seaplane. Another motivating factor may have been the competition from other luxury carmakers, such as the V16 Cadillac and V12 Hispano-Suiza.
The Phantom III boasted a state-of-the-art design, incorporating cutting-edge materials and techniques, such as ‘skeleton’ cylinder blocks with wet liners and aluminum alloy cylinder heads. In its initial iteration, the PIII V12 generated 165bhp, a figure later increased to 180 brake horsepower. This enhanced power allowed later models to achieve speeds of up to 100mph, while earlier versions could reach approximately 90mph. Beyond its powerful engine, the Phantom III marked a significant milestone in Rolls-Royce’s car history as the first model with independent front suspension.
The production spanned from 1936 to 1940, yielding a total of only 727 Phantom IIIs, including 10 experimental cars. Today, approximately 300 of these remarkable vehicles remain in existence worldwide, underscoring the Phantom III’s enduring legacy and importance in the annals of Rolls-Royce automotive history.