Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

The Phantom IV is a British automobile produced by Rolls-Royce.[1] Only eighteen were made between 1950 and 1956. They were only built for buyers whom Rolls-Royce considered worthy of the distinction: the British Royal Family and heads of state. Sixteen are currently known to still exist in museums as well as in public and private collections.

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
The first Rolls-Royce Phantom IV.png
The first Rolls-Royce Phantom IV in 1952, carrying Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh
18 vehicles
AssemblyUnited Kingdom
Engine5.7 L and 6.5 L (final three vehicles only) I8
Transmission4-speed gearbox (from 1954, 4-speed automatic gearbox standard)
Wheelbase3683 mm (12ft 1in; 145 inches)
Length5765.8 mm (18ft 11in)
Width1955.8 mm (6ft 5in)
Height1879.6 mm (6ft 2in) (Data corresponding to the first P. IV varies depending on each unit and/or type of coachwork)
PredecessorPhantom III
SuccessorPhantom V


Rolls Royce broke with their earlier decision to cease production of the series of "big" Rolls-Royce Phantoms after the end of World War II.[2] The Phantom IV chassis differed from those of the shorter, production post-War models, the Silver Wraith and the Bentley Mark VI, apart from a larger size and an engine with increased capacity and power, in having an additional cross-member at the centre of the cruciform bracing and 10-stud road wheel mounting.[3] The engine was a derivative of the 8-cylinder rationalized B range of petrol engines (formed by four, six and straight eight). Specifically it was a refined version of a B80, the last three of a B81, both used in military and commercial vehicles.[4] The IV is the only Rolls-Royce motorcar to be fitted with a straight-8 engine, which was powerful but could also run long distances at a very low speed, an important feature for ceremonial and parade cars.

All examples of this exclusive series were bodied by independent coachbuilders,[5] and most of their bonnets surmounted by the kneeling version of the Spirit of Ecstasy, which had been unveiled in 1934 and used in various other models.


Chassis 4AF18: Two big Lucas R-100 headlights flank the emblematic Parthenon-style radiator grille. Top and front surfaces look dead flat but are actually a few thousandths convex, so they will look flat, in accordance with the design principles used by the ancient Greeks in that temple.[6]

In July 1938 Rolls Royce had to publish in the motoring press an announcement denying that the Phantom III fabrication would be interrupted. The following was published on 19 July 1938 in the British magazine The Motor:

THE COMPANY WISH TO DENY the rumour that the Phantom III is to be discontinued and replaced with another model having an 8-cylinder or other engine.[7]

However, in 1937 a project was initiated to rein in the manufacturing costs of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley (acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931) motor car chassis. This involved the development of a Rationalized Range of cars sharing as many common components of the chassis as possible.[8] As implementation of this rationalization plan, several prototypes were made. One of these, chassis 30-G-VII, was fitted with a large Park Ward seven-seater limousine body and was called Silver Wraith 80, then Silver Phantom, though it soon became known as Big Bertha.[9] This was the genesis of the Phantom IV.[8]

Likewise, in 1939 and before the starting of hostilities, another straight-eight powered experimental automobile tested during and after World War II was a special Bentley Mark V, chassis 11-B-V[10] fitted with a bored-out 6.3 litre eight-cylinder engine.[11]

Although the official Experimental Department name for this car was Comet,[12] its scorching performance earned it the fond epithet Scalded Cat.[13] This unit in particular would later play a key role in the decision of creating the Phantom IV.[13]

Indeed, in 1948 the Duke of Edinburgh heard about the Bentley nicknamed Scalded Cat and asked if he might test it out. He enjoyed this experimental car immensely and drove it for considerable distances. When he returned it, he apparently murmured about how nice it would be to have a car with performance in the Royal Mews. On 15 November 1948,[13] not long after Prince Philip had driven the aforementioned automobile, an order came through for a Rolls-Royce motor car for Their Royal Highnesses Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. They placed the order through The Car Mart, Ltd., RR official retailers.[14] Such a vehicle would have to meet their official needs which meant it must be a limousine, it would also have to have good performance since the Prince wished to drive it himself. The car would be the first Rolls-Royce in the stables.[15] It was originally planned to be the only Phantom IV, a strictly one-off piece.[16]

Rolls-Royce, aware that Daimler had held the Royal warrant to provide motor cars since 1900, was very keen to ensure that the car was the best there had ever been, and a great deal of hand work was lavished on the construction of the chassis. The board had earlier considered making a replacement for the pre-war Phantom III, but were wary that such a large and expensive car might not have a market in the weak post-war economy. Production of the first two units of the new model was not at Crewe, but at the experimental Clan Foundry at Belper, which had been the home of the motor car branch during the Second World War.[2][17] The experimental department still continued there until the closure of Clan Foundry in 1950, when it was finally transferred to Crewe.

The chassis 4AF2 was built under the code-name Nabha[18] and Mulliner was selected as the coachbuilder, so they prepared drawings for approval. The chassis, was delivered to them on 20 July 1949 for erection of the body.[19] Prince Philip visited the workshops more than once while it was being built. When the automobile was completed in July 1950 its delivery was accompanied by a public announcement stating the Phantom IV had been "designed to the special order of Their Royal Highnesses, the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh".

As the car was privately owned when delivered to the couple it was painted Valentine green (deep green with a slight blue secondary hue) with red belt-line striping. The limousine became an official state car of the United Kingdom upon Princess Elizabeth's accession to the throne in 1952; as such, it was repainted in the sovereign's colour scheme of royal claret and black.[17][18] It remains in the Royal Mews and is still occasionally used for royal and state occasions. For example, it was used at the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton to carry Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, from Clarence House to Westminster Abbey. In 2018 it brought Meghan Markle to St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle for her marriage to Prince Henry (Harry).

4AF18, one of only three open bodies made

The Spanish orderEdit

On 18 October 1948, Crewe received an order from the Government of Spain for three armoured cars for the use of Generalissimo Francisco Franco: two with limousine bodies and an open all-weather body; this one intended to replace a 1936 Hispano-Suiza J12 with Carrosserie Vanvooren body. While the Phantom IV model was not specified in the order, or even known outside the company at that time, it was decided that the best way to cope with the huge additional weight would be to build the three cars as Phantom IVs,[20] rather than over-burden the Silver Wraith chassis. Especially since the Foreign Office suggested that Crewe could not turn down the order.[16]

Without intending it, the Government of Spain triple order (along with the later Duke's commission) probably helped to give a decisive impulse to the existence of this model, as suggested by Martin Bennett in his book Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years and the number 9 September 1990 of the British magazine Classic Cars.[21] All these three historical vehicles are property of the Spanish Army and are still in ceremonial use for the Spanish royal family.

The back compartment of 4BP7 (Princess Margaret's car). Featuring a division, two tip-up seats and folding shelves, cabinet, timepiece, etc.

The "Royalty and Heads of State only" policyEdit

It is not known exactly when the "Royalty and Heads of State only" policy was decided, nor indeed whether in fact there was such an explicit company policy. It is known though, that a boardroom decision was reached that it would be impractical and disruptive to production of standard models to attempt to build more than three Phantom IVs per year.[22] It is also clear that no private customer other than royalty and heads of state ever took delivery of a Phantom IV. Nevertheless, a considerable number of coachbuilder's drawings exist of proposed Phantom IVs that never were built.

A number of these are proposals by coachbuilders for chassis which in the event were bodied by other coachbuilders. Others were proposed but not built at all. Most are linked to a specific customer's name, such as the King Farouk, the Maharajas of Baroda and Mysore, as well as the Americans Briggs Cunningham and James Melton. It is evident that certain customers outside of the Royalty and Heads of State category believed that a Phantom IV would be available for purchase. Just how, or if, the news was broken to those customers that the firm would not supply a chassis for their proposed cars, or why they opted for other models, is open to conjecture.[23]

By 1956 appropriate bodies for state use had been built on Silver Wraiths, making dedicated Phantom IV production no longer necessary. The model, which in spite of its luxury and exclusivity had not been very profitable, was discontinued,[24] its role of expanding the prestige of Rolls-Royce having been achieved.

Table of all 18 unitsEdit

Chassis No. of engine First owner/user Coachwork Original colour Upholstery Delivery Picture
coachbuilder type no./design
4AF2 P1A Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh H. J. Mulliner Limousine 7-seater 5034 / 7162 First Valentine green with a red stripe down either side; repainted claret and black in 1952 Front: blue leather, later redone in dark blue cloth. Rear: grey cloth 6 July 1950  
Fitted with a specially modified driver's seat in case the Duke of Edinburgh wished to drive himself. It is fitted with a lion as the mascot when used in Scotland. On 10 April 1952, the Queen was driven in this car to her first royal engagement—the presentation of Maundy Money at Westminster Abbey. It carried the Queen to the opening of the British parliament in 1954.[25] Fitted with an automatic gearbox in 1955.
4AF4 P2A Rolls-Royce Park Ward Pick-up truck ~ Grey ~ 1 October 1950
Experimental truck used for the factory. In 1952 was fitted with the B81 engine and automatic gear box. Dismantled in 1963.
4AF6 P3A Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran H. J. Mulliner Cabriolet 5077 / 7205 Blue silver White leather 8 March 1951
According to Martin Bennett's book Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years (3rd edition, 2011), chassis 4AF6, a 2-door convertible, was returned to Rolls-Royce: The third PIV built, and the second delivered to a customer, was 4AF6 for the Shah of Iran. The coachwork was again by H.J. Mulliner, but the huge drophead coupe body, which was finished in a light metallic blue with white leather upholstery, was by no means characteristic of this coachbuilder. It was the only Phantom IV to have built-in Silver Dawn type headlamps. The car was returned to Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1959, it is believed because it had proved insufficiently stiff, flexing severely on Iranian roads. The outcome was that the company scrapped it, though the body survives on a Phantom III chassis, which perhaps suggests that the fault lay with the chassis. The car made its way to the United States in 1982, apparently from Switzerland,[26] still with its metallic blue paint. Recent photos of it (2010)[27] exist online, but its current whereabouts are unknown.
4AF8 P4A Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Hakim of Kuwait H. J. Mulliner Limousine 6 light saloon 5153 / 7206 Beige and royal midnight blue Biscuit leather July 1951
It was not fitted with a division between the front and back seats.
4AF10 P5A Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester Hooper Limousine 9663 / 8292 Black Fawn leather 1 September 1951
According to Philip C. Brook's article "Phantoms in a Postwar World": "(...) The car was very imposing. It was also huge, and the late HRH Prince William of Gloucester told me that the family sold the car because it was too big. Delivered in 1951, it was sold in October 1960 (...)." It was later featured in the 1966 films Arabesque[28] and Fumo di Londra (Smoke over London).
4AF12 P6A Ernest Hives, director of RR, then sold to Princess Marina, The Duchess of Kent Hooper Limousine 7-seater 9719 / 8307 Blue, later repainted black Beige 1 July 1951 see: 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV by Hooper for Duchess of Kent 2
According to Martin Bennett's book Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years (3rd edition, 2011), Ernest Hives is said to have used the car only infrequently, preferring his Bentley R Type B226WH. The car was built with a manual transmission but was converted to automatic by the end of 1953 before being sold to Princess Marina in 1954. In the collection of businessman Ion Țiriac of Romania.
4AF14 P7A Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain H. J. Mulliner Limousine 5-seater 5035 / 7181 Black West of England beige 23 June 1952  The vehicle at left
Armoured. Centre armrest. This is the one normally used by heads of states during state visits to Spain.
4AF16 P8A Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain H.J. Mulliner Limousine 7-seater 5036 / 7181 Black West of England beige 11 July 1952  The vehicle at right
Armoured. Centre armrest. Usually used by the Spanish head of state for certain occasions, such as the parade of the national day of Spain.
4AF18 P9A Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain H. J. Mulliner Cabriolet 4945 / 7183 Black Green leather 28 March 1952  
Armoured. Centre armrest. The only P. IV. to have all four doors hinged on their leading edges.
4AF20 P10A Aga Khan III Hooper Limousine sedanca de ville 9750 / 8293 Dark green with a sideline in light green, later red, and finally back to its original colours (2015) Red leather 6 April 1952  
When Rolls Royce sold this car to Aga Khan they included a clause which said he could not sell the car. However, after his death his widow sold it to the Mayfair-Lennox hotel (Missouri, US), where it was used to pick up guests at the airport, but due to the short boot capacity it was resold in 1962. The car was later repainted red. In August 2011, it was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, California.[29] It was estimated to sell for $850,000-1,100,000. Bidding failed to satisfy the vehicle's reserve and it left the auction unsold. It is now under ownership of Ion Tiriac and in the museum Țiriac Collection and has been restored to its original two-tone green colour scheme in 2015.[30]
4AF22 P11A The Prince Talal of Saudi Arabia Franay Cabriolet - / 7183 Cream and green; later repainted black Green leather June 1952
The only Phantom IV with a French-made coachwork. This one was listed in their works description as a sedanca de ville, but a four-door cabriolet with divider window was erected on the chassis instead.[31]
4BP1 P1B King Faisal II of Iraq Hooper Limousine 9890 / 8361 Black Red leather 31 March 1953
The series B differed in having wider eight-inch wheel rims. Made for his coronation.
4BP3 P2B 'Abd al-Ilah, Prince Regent of Iraq Hooper Touring limousine 7-seater 9891 / 8370 Delivered all-black; later black over white, with black fenders,[32] and then finally the white segments painted dark blue. Light blue leather 31 March 1953  
Built for the coronation of his nephew, King Faisal II. Years later all the royal family members were assassinated in the 1958 coup d'état. At the time of the uprising, the car was at Hooper's in London for servicing, and it was eventually sold in the US. Displayed at The Royal Automobile Museum, Amman, Jordan.
4BP5 P3B Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom Hooper Landaulet 9941 / 8399 Claret and black Front: blue leather, rear: grey cloth 1 May 1954  
Rolls-Royce retained this car for the exclusive use of the British Royal Family. Finally in 1959 it was purchased by the Queen. This car was built to celebrate RR Golden Jubilee, 1904 - 1954. Latterly it was used, among other duties, to convey bridesmaids and page boys to the Royal Weddings of 1981 and 1986. On permanent loan at the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, Paulerspury, U.K.
4BP7 P4B Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon H. J. Mulliner Limousine 7-seater 5686 / 7368 Black Beige cloth 16 July 1954  

The car was delivered to Clarence House in July 1954[33] at an estimated cost of £8,500[34] (equivalent to £234,400 in 2019).[35] Fitted with an adjustable seat in case the Princess wished to drive herself. From 1967, the car was owned for over 30 years by a family named Adams, and in 2003, it moved to a collector in Pennsylvania. The car, still in its original black colour and featuring its Pegasus hood ornament, was offered for sale by The Real Car Company of Bethesda, Gwynedd, North Wales in 2008.[36] No selling price was published, but the company stated that it sold for "somewhere around $750,000". The man who bought the car, St. Moritz Automobile Club member Dr. Norbert Seeger {DE}, has sworn never to part with the vehicle. Since his purchase of the car, Dr. Seeger has shown it at several prominent car shows in Europe, including the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este at Lake Como, Italy.[37][38]

4CS2 P1C Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Hakim of Kuwait H. J. Mulliner Limousine 6 light saloon 5724 / 7376 Two-tone green Olive green leather November 1955  
The series C, to which belong only the last three P. IVs have wider front brake drums, the 33/4 in. bore, 6,515 cc version of the straight-eight engine, automatic transmission as standard and the same eight-inch wheel rims like the series B.

On display at the Nethercutt Collection, 15151 Bledsoe Street, Sylmar, California 91342 (US). According to a plaque in the museum, the car cost $25,000 when purchased new.

4CS4 P2C Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Hakim of Kuwait H. J. Mulliner Limousine 5725 / 7376 Golden copper and silver Beige leather January 1956  
On display at Torre Loizaga, Biscay, Spain.
4CS6 P3C Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran Hooper Limousine 10177 / 8425 Black then repainted in bordeaux Grey leather 11 December 1956
The figurine is standing, not kneeling. In 1977 the car was in London for "major repairs and refurbishing". After three years and a reported $25,000 worth of repairs, the car was still in the UK. There was a dispute over who owned the car; the ousted Shah or representatives of the Iranian Embassy who said it belonged to their country.[39] Finally the exiled Pahlavi family lost their claim to ownership in the British courts. Displayed at the National Car Museum of Iran.


  1. ^ (c) 1997-99 K.-J. Rossfeldt, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. "Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Photos, Reports and Books from the archives of K. J. Roßfeldt". Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b James Carrington. "Rolls-Royce Phantom IV". Darkforce. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  3. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Postwar Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 18, (2008)
  4. ^ "RREC - Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club - Clan Foundry Belper".
  5. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 204, (2008)
  6. ^ Popular Science. Bonnier Corporation. May 1960.
  7. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 171, (2008)
  8. ^ a b Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 15, (2008)
  9. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 172, (2008)
  10. ^ Bennett, Martin (15 February 2010). Bentley Continental. ISBN 9781845842109.
  11. ^ "RROC(A) Library: Bert Ward on The Straight 8 Bentley".
  12. ^ Bennett, Martin (15 February 2010). Bentley Continental. ISBN 9781845842109.
  13. ^ a b c Faircount Media Group. "ISSUU - The International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Desk Diary by Faircount Media Group". Issuu.
  14. ^ Royal Rolls Royce, The Autocar, p. 763, (7 julio 1950)
  15. ^ Bowman, Hank Wieand. "Famous old cars". HathiTrust.
  16. ^ a b Brooks, Philip C. (2011). Oldham, Charles (ed.). "Phantoms in a Postwar World". The International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Desk Diary: 35. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  17. ^ a b Pigott, Peter (2005). Royal Transport: An Inside Look at the History of Royal Travel. Dundum Press. pp. 125–126. ISBN 978-1-55002-572-9. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  18. ^ a b Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 21, (2008)
  19. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 23, (2008)
  20. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 32, (2008)
  21. ^ "Las carrozas del Estado español, los Rolls Royce Phantom IV –".
  22. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Post-War Phantoms IV, V, VI", p. 48, (2008)
  23. ^ Martin Bennett, "Rolls-Royce: The Postwar Phantoms IV, V, VI", pp. 48-51, (2008)
  24. ^ Faircount Media Group. "ISSUU - The International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Desk Diary by Faircount Media Group". Issuu. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015.
  25. ^ Buckley, Martin (2004). "1 Pomp & circumstance". Cars of the Super Rich: The Opulent, the Original and the Outrageous. St. Paul, MN, US: Motorbooks International. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-7603-1953-6. Retrieved 5 October 2012. The Phantom IV was the royal family's official state limousine and carried the Queen to the opening of Parliament in 1954.
  26. ^ Trenk, Dick (6 April 2010). Bergsma, Joris; Booy, Rutger (eds.). "Comes with an armed guard". Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Pre-War Post-War Publishing. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2013. One chassis was rebodied with a six seat convertible body for the Shah and because it had been at the Mulliner Park Ward body works during the overthrow, it survived. It was smuggled into Switzerland and kept hidden.
  27. ^ Royce Phantom IV 4AF6 at auto show
  28. ^ "Internet Movie Cars Database: 1951 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV Limousine Hooper [4AF10]". Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  29. ^ "1952 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV -".
  30. ^ Rolls-Royce Phantom IV wins twice in Pebble Beach -- August 2015
  31. ^ "1952 Convertible by Franay (chassis 4AF22, design 7183) for H.H. Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud". Pinterest. 5 January 2014.
  32. ^ 2003 K.-J. Rossfeldt, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. "Car of the Month - November 2003 - Rolls-Royce Phantom IV".
  33. ^ "Princess Margaret's New Car". Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. England. 4 August 1954. Retrieved 26 April 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  34. ^ "Gossip". Aberdeen Evening Express. Scotland. 3 August 1954. Retrieved 26 April 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  35. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  36. ^ "Cars Sold 2009".
  37. ^'eleganza.html - Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este and Villa Erba 2015 -
  38. ^ Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2015
  39. ^ New York Magazine: 17 March 1980. 17 March 1980. Retrieved 5 October 2012.

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