My Car Quest

September 19, 2018

A Bit Of History – This Rolls Royce

An Old Roller has a surprising connection….

by Wallace Wyss –

Being simultaneously a WW II buff and a Roll Royce buff, I was pleased to read the note on the ’33 Phantom I saw at the Beverly Hills Father’s Day concours. Many cars had information on the restorer, the paint shop, the car’s present owner, and the like but this was simply a one page history of this particular car. This special Rolls Royce was displayed by James Rice of Beverly Hills.

Why did it stir me to do more research (“shaken not stirred” should ring a bell..)? Because it explained who the first owner was. Who ordered the car is more important with bespoke bodied cars than your average ten-a-penny body designs in that in those days you ordered the chassis then selected the coachbuilder on expensive cars.

Rolls Royce

Photo by Richard Bartholomew

The car already had the three attributes you want in a luxury car: grace, comfort and style. But when it had a Continental chassis, it was a little bit more of a performer, and certain to be tailored for an individual owner.

The Phantom II chassis was, according to the shop in Florida that sold this car recently to a Beverly Hills owner, a favorite of coachbuilders because the proportions allowed for more style.

Helped also by the use of semi-elliptic springs fore and aft which allowed the body to be lowered.

The coachbuilding firm selected was that of J. Gurney Nutting, an old line firm going back to 1918 and if you look up the really interesting coachwork of that era you come across their coachwork on such makes as Duesenberg and even Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 1931 Blue Bird world speed record car. Gurney Nutting did 34 RR cars, but only four were 4-door saloons.

Rolls Royce


Photo by Richard Bartholomew

That little note on the car explained that the first owner was a bloke from down under, a Mr. Frederick Sidney Cotton OBE, who was a renowned Australian inventor, aviator, and photographer.

He had come to Blighty at the precise right time, before the war, becoming not only a combat pilot, but eventually a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force for the PDU (Photographic Development Unit) that made many flights over Europe as war clouds gathered, shooting what would become key targets in a few months hence. He developed an early color film process as well as the art and science of photographic reconnaissance.

Rolls Royce

Photo by Richard Bartholomew

Some of his close friends at this time were George Eastman, Ian Fleming, and Winston Churchill. The first helped pioneer color processing, the third was a politician with a golden tongue and the bloke in the middle, well, he invented a fictional hero you might have heard of named Bond, James Bond!

And so it is that a little note on a side window of an old Rolls made me like the car more. I’d like to ride in this car, so I could imagine Fleming being driven through the dark streets of London as German bombers rained down thunder from above. This Cooper chap, he had done the right thing, and the information gathered by his recon flights would help save his adopted country of England…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss also penned a novel about a car loving hero. Those interested in discussing film rights can reach Wyss at Photojournalistpro2@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 

Rolls Royce Art by Wallace Wyss

Rolls Royce Art by Wallace Wyss

 

 

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Summary
A Bit Of History - This Rolls Royce
Article Name
A Bit Of History - This Rolls Royce
Description
A little note on a side window of an old Roll Royce made me like the car more. I'd like to ride in this car, so I could imagine Ian Fleming being driven through the dark streets of London as German bombers rained down thunder from above.
Author

Comments

  1. Wayne Watkins says:

    Aussies do it better !

  2. wallace wyss says:

    I really believe it was the forward thinkers–like the guy who cracked the enigma code, the guy who developed the bouncing bomb, and then this Aussie so kean on aerial photography, who helped England win the war.

  3. Optimader says:

    I’ll just put this here for those interested in this sort of thing

    https://youtu.be/ie3SrjLlcUY

    Spitfire 944

  4. Jeffrey Roberts says:

    Cool story Wallace! Appreciate all you do and your daily history lessons! Love this site! JR Toledo Ohio

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