'The most outstanding feature of the Phantom IV, revealed in 1950, was not that it was to be so exclusive (the sales policy was simple – examples would only be supplied to Royalty and Heads of State), but that it was the first eight-cylinder production car which Rolls-Royce had ever built. - Graham Robson, 'The Rolls-Royce and Bentley', Volume 2.
The origins of Rolls-Royce's first ever eight-cylinder production power unit can be traced back to the decision, taken towards the end of the 1930s, to develop a 'rationalised' range of engines and chassis based on common components. By mid-1938 this had resulted in plans for four-, six-, and eight-cylinder inline engines – known as the 'B' range - using identical inlet-over-exhaust valve gear and sharing common bore/stroke dimensions. In the case of the eight-cylinder B80, this meant a swept volume of 5,675cc. As well as providing the motive power for Rolls-Royce's future passenger cars, these engines were also intended for commercial use, and for the first time it was consider appropriate to depart from tradition and release power and torque figures, which for the B80 were 162bhp and 282lb/ft respectively. The 'B' engines are also noteworthy as the first from Rolls-Royce to have the crankcase and cylinder block cast as a single unit.
Development of experimental cars proceeded during the war years and thereafter, one of the most famous of these being 'Scalded Cat', a modified Bentley MkV powered by a 6.3-litre straight eight. Rolls-Royce allowed several prominent individuals to drive 'Scalded Cat', one whom was HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, who enjoyed the experience immensely. It is said that the Duke suggested that a limousine powered by this eight-cylinder engine would be a good idea, and his opinion may have had some influence on the Rolls-Royce management when they decided to build the Phantom IV. They may also have been swayed by the fact that the Daimler company, holder of a Royal Warrant since 1900 and hitherto exclusive supplier of cars to the Sovereign, had always favoured the straight eight.
Combining the lengthy straight eight engine with a roomy limousine body necessitated a very long chassis, that of the Phantom IV measuring 12' 1 (3.683 metres) in the wheelbase. The cruciform-braced chassis followed the general layout of that employed for the contemporary Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn and Bentley MkVI, albeit suitably strengthened, while the running gear was sourced from the Silver Wraith.
The first Phantom IV - chassis number '4AF2' – was completed in July 1950 having been ordered by HRH Princess Elizabeth (as she then was) and sent for bodying to H J Mulliner as early as July 1949. The choice of the Mulliner company marked another break with tradition, as hitherto the official Daimlers had usually been bodied by Hooper & Co. In total, Rolls-Royce would go on to build another 17 examples of the Phantom IV, though one of these – '4AF4' – was retained by the factory for use as a delivery wagon. Foreign customers included the Shah of Iran (two cars), General Franco (three cars), and the Ruler of Kuwait (three cars), while the Aga Khan, King Faisal of Iraq, the Prince Regent of Iraq, and Prince Talal al Souad Ryal of Saudi Arabia made do with one apiece. The British Royal Family would own five, the car offered here – chassis number '4BP5' – being HM The Queen's second and one of only two equipped with automatic transmission from new, the other being HRH Princess Margaret's car, '4BP7'. Coachbuilding allocations were shared between H J Mulliner (nine cars) and Hooper (seven cars), with Prince Talal's car – '4AF22' - being bodied in France by Franay. The final Phantom IV - '4CS6', ordered by the Shah of Iran - was completed in November 1956.
Although HM The Queen's first Phantom IV had been bodied by H J Mulliner, '4BP5' carries coachwork by Hooper & Co, London-based carriage makers to her forebears Queen Victoria and King Edward VII and arguably the finest of all British coachbuilders. Accompanying copy chassis cards record the chassis delivery date as 9th November 1953 and the car delivery date as 6th October 1955, 1955 being, coincidentally, Rolls-Royce's Golden Jubilee year. A copy of the factory's June 1954 road test report is on file, showing that '4BP5' was still owned by Rolls-Royce at that time ('Company's Car') and that it had covered 980 test miles to date. Body style is described as 'enclosed landaulette' and the colour scheme as claret and black with dark blue and grey cloth upholstery.
Following completion, '4BP5' was kept at Rolls-Royce's London showroom as a demonstrator, being loaned occasionally to the Royal Household. The Phantom permanently entered Royal service a few years later, being handed over to a Royal equerry on 30th January 1959. The following special features are listed:
*Bonnet fastening from interior
*Special heating and ventilating
*Special radio to the interior with 2 loudspeakers
*Power aerial on wing
*Under car aerial
*Power operated windows
*2 step lights
*Perspex panel to roof with power shutter
*2 reading lamps
*Independent control to o/s wiper blade
*Mounting for roof flagstaff
*Emergency windows handle to brace
*Mascot and cap
*2 interior fans
*2 extra interior lights
It is understood that one of Rolls-Royce's conditions of sale was that cars should not be sold on by their owners but should be returned to the factory, which is what in due course happened to '4BP5'. By the time it returned to Rolls-Royce's Crewe factory, this stately Phantom IV had completed over 40 years in the service of the Royal Household, including many overseas tours. It is identical to the car in which Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was driven to Windsor Castle on her wedding day, highlighting the significance of Rolls-Royce motor cars for the British Royal Family. Currently in the process of having a registration number allocated by the DVLA, this much-travelled Royal Phantom is MoT'd and 'on the button'.