1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom

The Round Door Rolls: 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Jonckheere Coupe

Custom coachbuilding of the 1920s and 1930s was the ultimate form of self-expression for the rich and famous. Whether it was a Waterhouse-bodied Packard, a Figoni & Falaschi-bodied Delahaye or a Murphy-bodied Duesenberg, the affluent could essentially own a one-of-a-kind vehicle. Each of these famous coachbuilders was known for their specialized workmanship and was commissioned to build custom bodies over the years. Conversely, a company more accustomed to clothing buses and trucks with their commercial styling wouldn’t be the typical choice to build the coachwork for a Rolls-Royce, yet Jonckheere Carrossiers of Belgium did just that when they re-bodied a 1925 Phantom I with what could arguably be considered the most ominous Rolls-Royce coachwork ever created.

In May of 1925, Rolls-Royce launched the New Phantom (today noted as the Phantom I) to replace the 40/50 model, which was from then on referred to as the Silver Ghost. Beginning its life with a stately Hooper Cabriolet body, this particular Phantom I was never delivered to its original purchaser in Detroit, after a last minute change of opinion. Instead it was re-sold as new to the Raja of Nanpara. It left northern India and passed through several more owners before making its way to Belgium in 1932. Two years later the Hooper Cabriolet found itself in the Jonckheere shops undergoing an extensive makeover.

In the early 1930s very few designers had considered (or dared) to modify the traditional Rolls-Royce vertical grill but that alteration became essential to Jonckheere achieving a more streamlined profile for the Phantom’s new body. Bullet-shaped headlights, flowing fenders, and a long vertical tailfin down the boot lid finish off the sleek contours. As Figoni experimented with oval doors, Jonckheere went with unique, large round doors which operate flawlessly and allow passengers into either row of seating. As attractive as round doors may seem, they did however present an issue for operating windows. The solution was to fabricate a two piece window that simultaneously split like scissors down into the door. At nearly 20 feet in length, it could very well be the largest 2-door coupe in existence. Unfortunately a few years later, the Jonckheere records were destroyed in a fire and it remains unknown who commissioned or designed this one-off masterpiece.

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