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Rollin’ with Royalty: Bhopal Nawab’s 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Cruises Through History!

In an extraordinary journey that intertwines the opulence of Indian royalty with the meticulous world of classic car restoration, a 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III, once a prized possession of Nawab of Bhopal Muhammad Hamidullah Khan and the Maharaja of Patiala, has cruised majestically into the limelight.

Known as chassis 3BU86, this Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sports Four-Seater, adorned with custom coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly, is not just any classic car. It’s a rolling testament to luxury, history, and the painstaking craftsmanship that goes into preserving such a masterpiece. From the 7,338cc OHV V12 engine to the elegant front independent suspension and the distinguished 4-wheel drum brakes, every component of this vehicle echoes the grandeur of its era.

With an illustrious past that includes ownership by two Indian monarchs and a comprehensive restoration completed in 2010, this vehicle’s journey is as captivating as its design. Originally purchased by the Nawab of Bhopal in 1936, it later graced the stables of the Maharaja of Patiala, Yadavindra Singh, a renowned cricketer and a prominent figure in the British campaign during World War II.

The Phantom III’s story took a fascinating turn when it was discovered by American twins, Kenneth and Keith Sherper, during their Peace Corps stint in India. Their passion for automobiles led them to acquire and meticulously restore this gem, a process that spanned decades and continents.

The restoration, a labor of love, was no small feat. It involved numerous experts and craftspeople, including John Dennison, Richard Frawley, and Richard Mullin, who employed traditional techniques to breathe new life into the car. The result is a stunning Corsican Blue and deep blue exterior paired with a burgundy Connolly leather interior, a combination that exudes elegance and luxury.

The car’s journey through restoration was marked by attention to detail, from the machine-turned dashboard to the meticulously researched Bhopal coat-of-arms. This painstaking process ensured the vehicle’s authenticity and aesthetic brilliance were preserved, leading to numerous accolades at prestigious events like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance.

This remarkable vehicle, with its unique provenance and unparalleled restoration, was finally sold at a Bonhams auction in 2014 for a princely sum of US$852,500 (INR 7.07 crore). This sale not only marked the end of one chapter in the car’s storied life but also heralded its entry into the annals of classic car history as a symbol of prewar luxury and the enduring allure of Rolls-Royce.

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