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You will know by now that we have a soft spot for cars with a bit of drama attached to them, and so when regular Uffe Mortensen sent in a picture of his 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II we nearly melted. Not just because of the car – a truly great design, oh yes, and in a marvellous shape and colour combination, no doubt. But it’s the history-bit that got us really enthusiastic here, as this car has been linked sometime, somehow, somewhere, to a multitude of car-crazy people and their vehicles. Take a deep breathe for a short overview.
When new the drophead Phantom was commissioned by a Georgian prince Alexis M’divani who had just taken delivery of a unique Duesenberg SJ Roadster. He bought the Rolls-Royce for his newly-wed Barbara Hutton, a then 21-year old heir to the Woolworth fortune who’d just inherited $50 million. It wouldn’t be Barbara’s only marriage. M’divani died not long later of a fall from a polo horse (although some sources say he crashed the Phantom) and Barbara started a whole string of weddings and divorces to the rich and famous. Amongst others to Cary Grant, who drove anything from Cord special to Isetta; Igor Troubetzkoy, who became the first driver ever to drive a Grand Prix for Ferrari in 1948 and who later won the Targa Florio for them. Also Porfirio Rubirosa, who owned a multitude of sports cars, also raced for Ferrari and was killed in one when he crashed it into a tree in Paris. A similar thing happened to her next husband, tennis player Baron Gottfried von Cramm, who blew out his mind in a car crash in Cairo, Egypt. Another marriage was to Count Court Haugwitz-Reventlow who gave Barbara her only child: Lawrence ‘Lance’ Reventlow who became racing driver for Cooper, Maserati and Mercedes and later set up his own racing car marque in the US: Scarab. Meanwhile, Barbara hadn’t enjoyed the Phantom for too long, and had also become attached to Ferraris later in her life. She had a silver grey 250 Pininfarina cabriolet and a 365 GTC in an unusual shade of pink!
That’s an incredible amount of exotic cars attached to one life. Barbara died, bankrupt according to some, in 1979 aged 66. After the supposed crash the Rolls-Royce is said to have been restored by Thrupp & Maberly in 1935 and was offered for sale not too long ago for over a million dollars. It didn’t sell, but now that it’s in Uffe’s hands it may be seen in public again. What a car, what a story!
(picture courtesy Uffe Mortensen)
You may remember we had a rather hard time identifying the (alleged) 1905 l’Elégante some weeks ago, believing the mystery car, shot in India, was a Rover. But you knew better, and right you were! Want more of that? You get more, as we’ve had another message from our friend Karl. And once again, he attached a picture of an old car photographed in India a long time ago. Karl wrote: “Hello once again. Firstly thank you for identifying the 1905 l'Elegante in Bombay that I shared the picture of recently. I have another one to identify."
"A friend saw this photograph hanging on the wall in an old garage in Nasik, India, amongst other pictures. All others were easy to identify except this sporty looking possibly European car. The registration number tallies to Poona (now Pune), at around the 1940s (all cars in the region were assigned new numbers in 1939). I hope you can help me identify the car.” Now, it looks English to us, but we wouldn’t dare giving it a go this time. So let's leave it over to you, our readers. You surely may help us - and Karl - out once more.
It's a pickup, obviously, but what pickup? We've obscured a few identifying features, but we can tell you that it was sold by a company that normally did not build pickups. It was built for a few years only, and was produced in conjunction with another company that had roots in a General Motors brand.
You just have to tell us the make, year and model. Many of you may find it easy, so to win you might tell us some of its history. As a tie breaker, you could offer the name of the model that succeeded it. Just read the Rules under Read More and start looking, looking, looking. This may finally be your chance to win the coveted PreWarCar T-shirt. Results will be published next Saturday, October 25.
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