The Rolls-Royce Phantom through the decades
History of the Rolls-Royce Phantom
The Rolls-Royce Phantom is now in its eight generation, with the most recent all-new version launched for 2018. In many ways, today's Phantom is the pinnacle of the automobile, with a price tag to match. It takes luxury and grandeur to levels that can't be enjoyed anywhere else, while boasting the finest engineering and technological advancement offered by Rolls-Royce's parent company, BMW.
Of course, the Phantom and Rolls-Royce in general has forever been synonymous with ultra-luxury motoring with royalty and celebrities being amongst its owners and passengers. Let's take a look back at the Phantom through the decades.
Last Updated on Nov. 11, 2021
1925-1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom I
The Phantom line got its start in 1925. The car replaced the Silver Ghost, but still used the Ghost's chassis, which was built both in England and the US. What the car didn't borrow was the 7.7-liter inline-six engine under the hood.
Like most cars of the time, Rolls-Royce sold chassis to customers who would have a custom body. Not all of the cars kept the same body through the years, though. One of the most famous first-generation Phantoms is the "round-door" Rolls-Royce at the Petersen Automotive Museum. According to the museum, it was rebodied in 1934. The new body was sleek and streamlined in '30s fashion, and featured amazing circular doors.
1930-1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II
For the second generation of the Phantom, Rolls-Royce made a few more changes. The existing inline-six was reworked, and a completely new frame was created.
A Phantom II also has a brief cameo in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When the Nazis want access to the country of Hatay to find the Holy Grail, they attempt to bribe the country's leader with various valuables. However, it's a Rolls-Royce Phantom II that convinces the leader to provide the Nazis access to the country and support.
1936-1939 Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIThe Phantom III's claim to fame is under the hood. For this generation, Rolls-Royce doubled the number of cylinders of previous models with a V12 engine. Until the introduction of the Phantom VII in 2003, this was the only Phantom model to boast 12 cylinders. This was also the last Phantom built before World War II.
1950-1956 Rolls-Royce Phantom IVIt wasn't until five years after World War II that Rolls-Royce would create a new Phantom, and it was extraordinarily rare. Only 18 fourth-generation Phantoms were built. As a result of this rarity, the Phantom IV carries a high price tag today. According to Hagerty Insurance, a pristine, concours-quality 1950 Phantom IV can go for about $1.2 million.
1959-1968 Rolls-Royce Phantom VThe Rolls-Royce Phantom V, in addition to sporting the most modern bodywork yet for the line, was also built at the Bentley factory in Crewe after Rolls took possession of the luxury automaker. Besides being built in a factory with a different make of car, it had some foreign parts under the skin. The Rolls-Royce V8 was coupled to a Hydramatic automatic transmission from General Motors.
1969-1991 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIWhile the 13-year run from 2003 to 2016 seemed like a long stretch for the outgoing Phantom, it doesn't hold a candle to the run of the sixth-generation. The Phantom VI was in production for a whopping 22 years. The later versions never made it to the US, though, since it couldn't meet increasingly strict safety and emissions regulations.
2003-2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom VII
The previous-generation Phantom arrived in 2003 and it was a serious game changer. It was the first Rolls-Royce designed and engineered under the watchful eye of its new owner, BMW. It also became the second Phantom to have a V12, this one producing about 460 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque. The car featured a variety of nifty touches, such as a "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament that could retract into the grille, center caps that always stayed upright, and umbrellas in the doors.
The very last edition, pictured here, was a long-wheelbase model with one-of-a-kind details themed around ship travel in the 1930s. Among the features were marquetry wood trim showing a ship, embroidery that looked like waves, and carpeting cut to look like the wake of a ship.
rolls-royce phantom Information
2018-Present Rolls-Royce Phantom
Like its predecessor, today's Rolls-Royce Phantom is a masterpiece of exquisite craftsmanship and engineering. It features a unique-to-Rolls platform (no BMW underpinnings here) and a special, all-new 6.75-liter V12 engine that at launch produced 563 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. In old-school Rolls-Royce parlance, that sure is "sufficient." The exterior and interior represent slight evolutions of the previous Phantom, but expecting one of the world's most traditional, iconic automakers to go in radical new directions would not have been a wise bet to make.
In-car technology is the big change inside the opulent interior, with a bigger central infotainment display and an all-digital instrument panel replacing the traditional Rolls gauges. There's also no shortage of toys in the back seat for VIPs to enjoy. Key mechanical upgrades for this generation include rear-wheel steering that radically improves the vast Phantom's maneuverability and a predictively adaptive air suspension. The end result is a better transportation experience for the VIPs, and an easier time for the chauffeur ... we mean driver.