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H.J. Mulliner Rolls-Royce Phantom III Saloon #3AX79 1936
H.J. Mulliner Rolls-Royce Phantom III Saloon #3AX79 1936
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This unique Phantom III was originally ordered to the specifications of Alan Samuel Butler, the chairman of the de Havilland Aircraft Company. His company reckoned that a reverse-slanted split window like this was 15 percent more aerodynamic than the standard upright windshields of the day. On November 20, 1936, Rolls-Royce delivered chassis no. 3AX79 to coachbuilder H.J. Mulliner, who set about creating a body that would satisfy Mr. Butler's nuanced understanding of aerodynamics. Their design included aeronautically inspired features such as the forward-sloping V-split windscreen, a swept tail, an internally contained spare tire, and a dash console highlighted by a Smith Aneroid altimeter.

In 1940, Mr. Butler presented his one-off Phantom III as a gift to Britain's War Department for use by the chiefs of the British General Staff. He stipulated several conditions with the gift, including provisions guaranteeing that the car would be routinely maintained by qualified Rolls-Royce personnel, and that it would never leave the country.

Chassis 3AX79 came under the command of several lesser-known generals for the following few years, until June 5, 1944, a day before the largest invasion in history, when it was allocated to General Bernard Montgomery. Known affectionately as "Monty," Field Marshal Montgomery gained worldwide renown when he brilliantly crushed Rommel at El Alamein. Approximately a year after he acquired it, General Montgomery rode his singular Rolls-Royce victoriously into the streets of Berlin, reportedly making it only the second British car to enter the city. Following the conclusion of the war, General Montgomery persuaded officials to allow him to purchase his favorite Rolls-Royce, which he used regularly until the death of his longtime chauffeur, Sergeant Cedric Parker, in 1962. The following year, General Montgomery's estate sold this important Phantom III to Jim Leake of Muskogee, Oklahoma, who exhibited the car at his Museum.

In its 364,000 miles of duty, it has shuttled Winston Churchill, King George VI and President Dwight Eisenhower, among others. The car has been featured in several documentaries and World War II films such as Steven Soderbergh's 2006 picture 'The Good German'. 


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