Wednesday, July 25, 2012

1925 Rolls Royce Jonckheere Coupe

Batman would be proud of this Automobile
One of the strangest designs ever for a Rolls
Rolls-Royce Phantom I Jonckheere Coupe
The featured Phantom I started out life as a 'regular' Hooper convertible, but early in the 1930s that body was scrapped and the rolling chassis sent to Jonckheere in Belgium for something a little more exotic. A few years later a fire destroyed all of the company's records, so it is uncertain who commissioned and who designed the new coupe coachwork. What remains however is the end-result; one of the most extravagant designs ever put on four wheels. From the huge front fenders on to the oval doors and finishing off with a tall fin on the back, the Jonckheere Coupe is six meters of exuberance.

Shortly after it was finished in 1934, it won its first Concours d'Elegance; the Prix de Cannes. Not much later, it was acquired by an American and on its way to the United States, where the lavish coupe would fit in slightly better. During the 1950s it was painted gold and used in an automotive freak show together with a number of other striking 1930s designs, which people could look at after paying $1. Fast forward to 1991, the peak of the classic car craze, when the gold painted behemoth was auctioned to a Japanese collector for a staggering $1.5 million.

In good Japanese tradition, the car entered a collection and was not seen for many years, until the Petersen Automotive Museum pursuaded the owner to part with the gold Phantom. He had it painstakingly restored to be entered in the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The unique design proved troublesome to restore, but the owner figured he had a winner on his hands and urged his team to complete the job. They did, but because the car's early history could not be fully recovered, the Pebble people already hinted it would not be eligible for the big one before the show. Nevertheless, the car was one of the big (no pun intended) stars on the field and was awarded the Lucius Beebe Trophy reserved for the finest Rolls entered.

After its grand debut, it received much attention in the leading classic periodicals and travelled to a variety of shows. It is seen above at its Pebble debut and at the 2006 Meadowbrook Concours d'Elegance where it received the Public Choice Award.

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Beautiful old machine from a bygone era