1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom IIPhantom II Continental Drophead Coupe
Year of manufacture1933
- One of just three Phantom II Continental Drophead Sedanca Coupes produced
- Custom ordered by Barbara Woolworth Hutton, heir to the Woolworth retail fortune, and her first husband, Prince Alexis Mdivani of Georgia
- Displayed by Rolls-Royce at the 1933 Paris Salon, with a well-documented chain of ownership from new
- Powered by a 7.7-liter, overhead valve, inline six-cylinder engine fitted with a high-compression cylinder head and high-lift camshaft
- Accompanied by numerous copies of factory build records and chromed tool kit
The Phantom II Continental presented here, chassis 3MW, ranks among the most significant and historically intriguing Rolls-Royces of any era. The first of just three Phantom II Continentals fitted with drophead “sedanca” coupe bodies by Thrupp & Maberly—featuring open front seats and a closed rear passenger compartment—3MW’s story begins with America’s “Poor Little Rich Girl,” Barbara Woolworth Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth retail fortune and among the wealthiest women in the world by age 21.
Upon meeting the dashing Georgian Prince Alexis Mdivani, who was living in exile in Paris at the time, so enthralled was Hutton that an engagement quickly followed with a custom Rolls-Royce ordered to celebrate the impending marriage. As documented by copies of numerous factory build sheets, 3MW was among the most opulent Phantom II Continentals constructed.
With the elegant, flowing lines of Thrupp & Maberly’s drophead sedanca coupe coachwork as a starting point, Prince Mdivani specified the bonnet be extended four inches, the louvers raked 13.5 degrees, and a significantly larger 28-gallon fuel tank be installed. A trained pilot, the Prince, with Hutton’s input, designed an aviation-inspired cabin featuring turned aluminum panels throughout, including the dashboard, which housed a specially ordered, six-inch speedometer and tachometer as well as an altimeter and variometer, measuring altitude and rate of climb. Andre Telecontrol adjustable hydraulic dampers were added so that drivers could stiffen the suspension for high-speed touring. Before being delivered, Rolls-Royce displayed the car prominently at the 1933 Paris Motor Show.
Hutton and Prince Mdivani reportedly took 3MW on their honeymoon. They divorced a year later with the prince keeping the custom Rolls-Royce. Just five months after the divorce, while on holiday in Spain, Prince Mdivani was driving a married German countess to the Figueres train station at a high rate of speed when he lost control and was killed instantly. His paramour survived, albeit with grave injuries.
After the crash, the car was returned to Ms. Hutton, who is understood to have sent it back to Rolls-Royce and Thrupp & Maberly for total refurbishment. After passing through a series of British owners and receiving a restoration by FLM Panelcraft at some point in the 1950s or 1960s, this stunning Rolls-Royce sailed to America aboard the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth II in the mid-1970s. Since its importation, 3MW has lived a life befitting an automobile of such stature with careful maintenance, including a claimed engine rebuild by noted Rolls-Royce enthusiast Frank Cook. The car remained in single ownership for nearly 50 years before passing to the consignor in 2018, who has continued the meticulous care and claims that 3MW runs and idles smoothly.
Elegantly designed and opulently appointed with well-documented history that includes notable origins and ownership, chassis 3MW certainly ranks among the most unique and intriguing Rolls-Royces in existence, a car sure to delight all who view it and learn of its storied life.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo23.