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Rolls-Royce and Bentley


Car of the Month - November  2003
Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, #4BP3, 1953,
Hooper Touring Limousine

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV were built to the order of Sovereigns, members of Royal Families and Heads of State. Such restriction resulted in a production figure of only 18 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV. Because one was a test car and “reduced to produce” at the factory, no more than 17 cars were delivered. Two of these had been made for the coronation of His Majesty The King Faisal II. of Iraq.

A few details as regards the situation of the Hashemit Kingdom of Iraq and the Rolls-Royce model hierarchy might be helpful. When H.M. The King Ghasi I. of Iraq died in 1939 his son Faisal was at the age of 4, hence his uncle Prince Abd al-Ilah became Prince Regent. In 1953 – the year of his 18thbirthday – Faisal came of age; in May 1953 the coronation was celebrated. His uncle during the period when he was Prince Regent had acquired several Rolls-Royce motor cars, that were for ceremonial purposes. The Crown Prince Faisal himself was listed as having purchased a Franay-bodied Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith when visiting the 1952 Paris Salon. Thus the most expensive motor car exhibited there was bought by what presumably was one of the youngest Rolls-Royce owners – a man aged 17.

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

In the model hierarchy ranging even higher than the Silver Wraith was the Rolls-Royce Phantom IV powered by an 8-cylinder-in-line engine with some 5.7 litres capacity. The chassis was developed from that of the Silver Wraith, lengthened and strengthened considerably thus providing the basis for really representative motor cars with impressive coachwork. The engine was so powerful that acceleration and top speed were on a par with what was offered from thoroughbred sports cars. However only a very exclusive circle of drivers around the globe could state that from first hand experience. The first ever Phantom IV had been built in 1950 especially for T.R.H. The Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. During the early 50ies a few other cars from this model series were supplied to high ranking customers worldwide, e.g. H.I.M. The ShahinShah Reza Pahlewi of Persia and H.S.H. The Emir Abdullah as-Salem as-Sabah of Kuwait.

2 Phanton IV in front of Hooper Premises

His Royal Highness The Prince Abd al-Ilah – as previously mentioned reigning Iraq as Prince Regent for Crown Prince Faisal – did order 2 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV to be bodied by Hooper: one car as a Limousine for the future King, a second one as a Touring Limousine for his personal use. Investing extreme care and perfect craftsmanship – hallmark of the London based coachbuilder – Hooper erected the bodies. Their chief designer Osmond Rivers did succeed in arranging for a separate identity of each body although he achieved a certain amount of rationalisation. It could be noted that both bodies were identical up to the rear doors. Such it was possible to use the same wooden body formers for the majority of body panels and to fit these to almost identical “skeletons” underneath. Only the back show differences, on careful inspection a slight ‘hump’ can be detected between the top line of the rear door and the frame of the rear sidelight of the Touring Limousine on chassis #4BP3.

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

Very often #4BP3 is listed as H.R.H. Prince Abd al-Ilah’s motor car – but careful research revealed the car stored at the Royal Mews and it is more than a fair guess this was a State Carriage of H.M. The King Faisal II. A hint as regards the personality that placed the original order are levers protruding from the rear side armrests: these allowed individual adjustment of the rear seat; an idea that the Prince Regent wanted to be copied from aeroplane seats. The period of being employed as State Limousine was but limited because in a riot in 1958 the young king and his family were killed in the Royal Palace in Baghdad. They all died at the same time when H.R.H. The Prince Abd al-Ilah lost his life, too. He had his very last experience with a motor car made in Britain then - suspended from the back of a Land Rover his head bobbed up and down across the streets of Baghdad.

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

(Photos courtesy of Steve Stuckey, Australia)

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