My Car Quest

July 20, 2024

A Custom Rolls Royce Fit for a Duke

When A royal family member had the bloody cheek to customize his Roller.

by Wallace Wyss –

Don’t worry, he did not have flowers painted on it like the mop-haired Beatles. No I think his mods to his classic styled Rolls Royce Phantom V were tasteful and influential.

The Phantom V was visually like an Extra Large Silver Cloud. It launched in 1959 to replace the aging Silver Wraith. It was intended primarily to be chauffeur-driven. But only a very few were limousines with a divider window to separate the chauffeur from the VIPs being wafted about.

Rolls Royce Phantom V

Those intended for royalty were usually finished in black. Sometimes captains of Industry had theirs in black as well. The wealthy establishment.

Which brings us to 5AT30. Delivered in September 1960, its first owner was HRH The Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, and uncle to the chief occupant of the Royal Palace, HM Queen Elizabeth II. It has coachwork by James Young to the PV15 design often called “razor edge” for its firmly creased corners.

Rolls Royce Phantom V

Now I want to commend a bit tardily HRH for his farsightedness because not only did he order it in black but matte black on the horizontal surfaces and gloss black on the vertical planes. I also like the much smaller rear window with no chrome surround encircling the glass, for a more private look.

Rolls Royce Phantom V

Additional bespoke requests were large fog lamps, door-mounted driving mirrors, sliding shutters (what we call curtains) for the rear windows and two Stephane Grebel spotlights. The front of the car went back to previous era Lucas R100 headlamps, rather than the more modern faired-in headlights. I only question his taste there putting in smaller headlamps than were in them on the Wraith but using the old large buckets.

Duke of Gloucester

Now most Rolls owners want to flaunt that Spirit of Ecstasy nekked lady on the bonnet but no, it was supplied, but not fitted, the car instead carrying the Duke’s own mascot of an eagle in flight. And we can thank the Duke for having an umbrella furnished with a place to stow it, something now on every Rolls today.

The car didn’t live ’til today without a bump in the road. On 30 January 1965, the Duke and Duchess were coming back from Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral when off the road she went with a triple rollover. But the occupants survived and the car was rebuilt, later willed to m’Lord’s son Prince Richard.

When I see cars like this I regret that, after WWII, American automakers for the most part couldn’t take the time to indulge customer’s whims because this car certainly showed the customer was far sighted. Rolls is currently promoting the Black badge cars, a legacy of one customer’s good taste.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss is writing a book on Tesla vs the Big Three and welcomes opinions.


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A Custom Rolls Royce Fit for a Duke
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A Custom Rolls Royce Fit for a Duke
The first owner of this Rolls Royce Phantom V was HRH The Duke of Gloucester, the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, and uncle to HM Queen Elizabeth II.

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