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Royal Ride Reaches Remarkable Resale: J&K Maharaja’s 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Pioneering Powerhouse

In a blend of historical grandeur and modern commerce, the 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo, once a prized possession of the ex-Maharaja Bahador of Jammu and Kashmir, is now hitting the auction block in California. This classic beauty, bearing the registration CH-7763 and chassis no. 17EX, is not just any vintage vehicle; it’s the crowning glory of a series of four experimental lightweight sports cars from the late 1920s.

This Rolls-Royce Phantom I, an embodiment of luxury and performance, was born out of Henry Royce’s ambition to transcend the capabilities of the existing Phantom model. The project, initially endorsed by Rolls-Royce’s Claude Johnson, took a new direction under the guidance of Royce himself. Despite the cautious approach of Claude’s successor, Basil Johnson, Royce pursued his vision of a high-speed luxury vehicle that could impress “speed merchants” and royal patrons alike, promising a car with “a bit of fizz” without compromising the brand’s hallmark smoothness and silence.

The evolution of this masterpiece involved overcoming the challenge of increased weight and aerodynamic drag. With meticulous testing and innovative body design led by Rolls-Royce designer Ivan Evernden, the Phantom I underwent significant transformations. The efforts included extensive aerodynamic testing, resulting in a sleeker, more efficient body shape crafted by Jarvis of Wimbledon, known for serving clients like speed king Sir Malcolm Campbell.

This particular model, 17EX, boasts a rich history, having been sold to Maharaja Hari Singh Bahadur in 1928 for a steep 42,000 rupees. Under his ownership, this car wasn’t just a symbol of luxury but also a testament to the technological marvels of its time. With an engine positioned forward and a shortened steering column, it was a vehicle tailored for the needs of its royal owner.

The car’s journey through various owners over the decades is a story in itself, reflecting the changing tastes and trends in the world of luxury automobiles. From the hands of Indian royalty to British and Italian collectors, this Rolls-Royce Phantom I has traveled the world, earning accolades and admiration at prestigious events like Pebble Beach and the Villa d’Este Concours.

Now, as it gears up for its next chapter, this historical gem awaits a new custodian. Will it finally achieve the 100mph dream of Henry Royce? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: the sale of this extraordinary vehicle on August 15, 2008, in California, marks a unique opportunity for collectors to own a piece of automotive history, once the pride of a Maharaja and a testament to the relentless pursuit of perfection by Rolls-Royce.

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