1933 Rolls Royce Phantom

14 Stunning Rolls-Royce Models (and 2 Duds)

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1933 Rolls Royce Phantom
Silver Ghost
Silver Ghost by Malcolma (CC BY-SA)

Silver Ghost

Made: 1906 to 1925

Henry Royce and Charles Rolls joined forces to make and sell cars in 1904, forming Rolls-Royce Ltd. in 1906 and putting the Silver Ghost on the road the same year. It didn’t just have a clever folding “trap” seat to add to seating capacity at the rear; it finished the Scottish Reliability Trail, a grueling 774-mile race known for a 2-mile stretch known as “Rest-and-Be-Thankful” hill that ended several competitors that year. The Silver Ghost earned a gold medal — and quickly became famous as the vehicle of choice for monarchs and gangsters alike. According to GQ, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson of “Boardwalk Empire” infamy bought one of the last original Silver Ghosts for $14,000 (or $211,229 in today’s dollars). In 1926, that would have scored him 50 Model T’s.


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Twenty
Twenty by Lars-Göran Lindgren (CC BY-SA)

Twenty

Made: 1922 to 1929

The Twenty was built during England’s post-World War I boom, and became the first to break a “one model” policy that had Henry Rolls keeping production to one model available at a time. The reason: demand for smaller vehicles. Rolls-Royce gave the market what it wanted, “but standards of workmanship were not compromised,” Edward Eves wrote in his “Rolls-Royce: 75 Years of Motoring Excellence.” Drivers could also expect to be set apart from other drivers by a “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament that came standard; until 1920, a hood ornament was an option.


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Phantom II
Phantom II by Thesupermat (CC BY-SA)

Phantom II

Made: 1929 to 1935

You probably recognize the Phantom II as Cruella de Ville’s car from “101 Dalmatians,” but a rollout just a month before the U.S. stock market crashed delayed the fun. The crash hurt demand, and lost sales during the Great Depression saw the shuttering of Rolls-Royce of America in 1934 after just 15 years. Still, buyers of the opulent Phantom series got a classic Rolls bonus in the custom set of tools that come laid out just-so in the trunk of each vehicle. 


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25/30
25/30 by Lars-Göran Lindgren (CC BY-SA)

25/30

Made: 1936 to 1938

The 25/30 (the number refers to horsepower) stopped production due to the start of World War II. During the war, the manufacturer pivoted to making engines for airplanes, tanks, and torpedo boats. The first decades of Rolls-Royce models were made distinct by their various bespoke coach builders, different shops that might give a vehicle a wind-down hood to provide passengers sun and air, or make it into a “sedanca,” with the driver exposed but passengers in a compartment — with an divider that could be raised or lowered electrically. Either way, luxury car owners of the age liked this model’s added power.


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Phantom III
Phantom III by Matilda (CC BY-SA)

Phantom III

Made: 1936 to 1939

With only 727 sold during a brief production run, the Phantom III practically has its own fandom. This last large prewar Rolls-Royce, with its “Sedanca de Ville” models still shaped by different coach makers, again stood out for reasons of power, switching to a 12-cylinder engine from a 6-cylinder. You can catch one in action as the villain Goldfinger and his best buddy Oddjob zoom around in the James Bond film “Goldfinger.”


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Silver Wraith
Silver Wraith by Rico Heil (None)

Silver Wraith

Made: 1946 to 1959

The sleek Silver Wraith was the last that was meant to vary depending on who was doing the coachwork, and was shaped somewhat by postwar austerity. In the Silver Wraith’s later production years the maker offered drivers automatic shift and power assisted steering, while passengers could appreciate a large sunroof and — in a switch from earlier thinking that cloth was cooler and more comfortable — supple leather seating with an armrest hiding storage for personal items, as well as a cocktail cabinet and twin picnic tables.


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Silver Dawn
Silver Dawn by Charles01 (CC BY-SA)

Silver Dawn

Made: 1949 to 1955

The Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn was the first with a factory-built body and chassis (though buyers could still buy just a chassis for a coachmaker to work with) and marketed for people who would drive themselves rather than have a chauffeur. It was meant to be sold overseas only, but by 1953 the vehicle was produced for sale in the United States. Only 761 Silver Dawns were ever made, costing in the 1950s about $19,000 (or 12 times the cost of a brand-new English Ford). Adjusting for inflation, that comes to $191,473. A Silver Dawn driver might expect power windows, a sliding sunshine roof, and an electrically operated hood as well as such lifestyle touches as leather seats, walnut veneers, a wicker picnic hamper, and a red umbrella in the trunk.


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Silver Cloud
Silver Cloud by Rico Heil (CC BY-SA)

Silver Cloud

Made: 1955 to 1966

The limited edition Silver Cloud — a mere 2,238 models were made — was marketed as blissfully quiet, with one 1959 ad for the Silver Cloud boasting that at 60 mph “the loudest noise in this Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” Buyers should also expect to find burl walnut paneling inside (including as rear-seat picnic trays) and lambswool carpets; a silver flask behind the rear center armrest; an electric sunroof and power windows; an electric aerial for the Blaupunkt radio; and air-conditioning. 


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Silver Shadow
Silver Shadow by Brett Weinstein (CC BY-SA)

Silver Shadow

Made: 1965 to 1980

The Silver Shadow offered luxuries such as wool carpet and walnut trim, power windows and electrically adjustable leather seats, air conditioning and heating — bells and whistles that, combined with under-the-hood advances such as power-operated disc brakes and a new suspension system, made it the most technologically complex Rolls-Royce of the time. The going price for the Silver Shadow in 1965? About 6,556 pounds sterling, which would be 109,497 pounds sterling today (or $155,770).


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Corniche
Wikimedia Commons
Silver Spur II Touring Limousine
Silver Spur II Touring Limousine by Mr.choppers (CC BY)

Silver Spur Limo

Made: 1980 to 1989

The Rolls-Royce Silver Spur II is a ridiculously over the top  and ostentatious limousine that commands its place on the road with a length of nearly 20 feet (and came complete with an intercom) with perks such as a VCR (this was the ’80s, after all) and an ice bucket to keep your champers cold. Only 101 were made.


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Silver Spirit
Silver Spirit by Qwerty242 (None)

Silver Spirit

Made: 1980 to 1998

This four-door, full-sized luxury sedan went for $109,000 back in 1981, an impressive $309,669 in the current market, with perks such as powered front bucket seats adjustable eight ways, automatic temperature control, and a digital clock — shrugging away the chance to boast about the ticking of a minute hand being the loudest noise you’ll hear in one. The 1987 model was the first to offer a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, which wouldn’t become a universal automatic theft deterrent until 2003. 


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Hyperion
Hyperion by Steve Corey (CC BY-NC)

Hyperion

Made: 2008

This specially designed car, with a carbon fiber body and elaborate custom woodwork, was commissioned by Roland Hall, a Rolls collector who was gaga over the Phantom Drophead Coupe. Italian car design firm Pininfarina worked on the Hyperion, a vehicle that practically undulates its way through time and space. The car made its debut at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and was last seen around 2017 available for sale in Dubai for a mere 2 million euros, or $2.4 million in the United States. 


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Dawn
Dawn by Flyz1 (CC BY)

Dawn

Made: 1949 to 1955; 2016 to 2021

The 2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn is the baby of the group, but is soon to be retired. Its open-pore, book-matched wood (the fancy term means the grains of pieces mirror each other, like pages of an open book), was designed to evoke the carmaker’s 1950s models, and Car And Driver praised the Dawn as having “one of the most luxurious interiors in the car business,” including front seats with a massage function. The doors are power-assisted, and when six-layer the cloth top is down, riders are assured that they will be hardly bothered by wind even at high speeds. All this gorgeousness costs: The base price for the 2021 Dawn is $368,850 — or assuming the cost of $5.50 a latte, approximately 67,063 coffee breaks.


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Camargue
Wikimedia Commons

Dud: Camargue

Made: 1975 to 1986

Getting a mention in Top Gear’s competition for “The Worst Car In The History Of The World,” the Camargue has had a tough go of it. This Pininfarina design was proposed first for Mercedes, and didn’t look much like other Rolls models of the era, while the interior didn’t have much new to offer beyond dual-zone climate control. At least by the final edition there was a rear parking sensor and a car alarm. A $70,000 price (or $348,765 in today’s dollars) — almost double the price of the Silver Shadow — didn’t help sell it, though, and Rolls stopped manufacturing the car with around 530 sold.


Vignale
Vignale by Louwman Museum (CC BY)

Dud: Vignale

Made: 1954

The website Driving ponders whether the Vignale is the ugliest Rolls ever made, but at least there’s only one. It was custom ordered by Joseph Mascuch of New Jersey from a 1954 long-wheel-base Silver Wraith chassis, and completed in the spring of 1955, the magazine says, with design innovations that included a television … and a rear-seat toilet. (Maschuch later claimed the toilet was for keeping champagne chilled.)


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