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The Phantom IV is the most exclusive Rolls-Royce model ever built. Only 18 were made between 1950 and 1956, exclusively for royalty and heads of state. Of these, 16 have survived.

Characteristics

By creating the Phantom IV the manufacturer broke with their earlier decision to cease production of the series of "big" Rolls-Royce Phantoms after the end of the Second World War. The chassis was developed from that of the Silver Wraith, strengthened and lengthened considerably to a wheelbase of 144 inches and an overall length of 229 inches.

It is the only Rolls Royce motorcar to be fitted with a straight-8 engine, which could run long distances at a very low speed, an important feature for ceremonial cars.

All examples of this unique model were bodied by independent coachbuilders and their hoods surmounted by the kneeling version of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

History

In 1949, Rolls Royce received an order from the Duke of Edinburgh for a Rolls Royce limousine. His Royal Highness took this decision when he was lent an experimental Bentley with an eight-cylinder engine; the young Duke was so impressed he asked Rolls-Royce to build such a chassis to his order.

The commission was accepted and the company, aware that Daimler had enjoyed royal patronage since 1900, was very keen to ensure that they made the best car possible. The company's directors had considered manufacturing a replacement for the larger Phantom III, but were wary the weak post-war economic climate would not support such a large and expensive automobile. Production of the new model was not at Crewe but at the experimental "Clan Foundry" at Belper which had been the home of the motor car branch during the Second World War.

Under the code name "Nabha", the royal Rolls-Royce was hand-built on a stretched Silver Wraith chassis. When completed in July 1950 its delivery was accompanied by a public announcement ostensibly breaking the Daimler monopoly stating the Phantom IV had been "designed to the special order of Their Royal Highnesses, the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh". As the car was privately owned when delivered to the young couple and not an official state car, it was painted Valentine green; upon Princess Elizabeth's accession to the British throne in 1952 it became one and was repainted in claret and black. It remains in the Royal Mews to this day and is occasionally used to ferry Royal aides and friends to Royal Ascot. The car was last used at the Wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton to ferry Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall from Clarence House to Westminster Abbey.

This first Phantom IV was the first of two that Princess Elizabeth ordered; in 1954 a similar model with a landaulet body (since retired) entered the royal fleet.

Rolls-Royces remained preferred by the British Royal Family until the delivery of two customised Bentleys donated by that firm in 2002. However, the Phantom IV is sometimes used for special occasions of the royal family, such as by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the 29 April 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Other owners included the Queen's sister, HRH The Princess Margaret, The Countess of Snowdon and the Spanish Head of State, General Francisco Franco, whose three customised Phantom IVs (two limousines and a cabriolet) are still in ceremonial service with HM King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

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Rolls-Royce vehicles