1947 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Labourdette Vutotal Cabriolet

Rebodied in 1947 by Labourdette of Paris, this Phantom III was the designer’s last and arguably most daring work. It was commissioned by the flamboyant Louis Ritter who let Labourdette go all out, so much so, the body alone cost $44 000 which made it one of the most expensive of its time- equal to around $375 000 in 2003.

Before its transformation, the chassis had already garnished much attention with its original Hooper Sedanca de Ville body. It was shown at the Brussels, Geneva and London motor shows before being shipped overseas for the Rolls-Royce stand at the 1939 New York Fair. It was then sold to Louis Ritter who was daring enough to let Labourdette rebody the car unlike anything else.

With the almost unlimited funds available Labourdette spent considerable time on features like the brass inserts leaded into the body to accentuate the fenders, windscreen supports and extremity of the interior. Another notable feature was the vacuum-powered windows which moved up and down at a high speed.

For added flair, Labourdette took advantage of a new Vutotal patent that held the rather thick windshield to the firewall using very large bolts that offered a complete view of the surrounding landscape.

While originally painted a metallic red-orange which did little for the design, the car was purchased from the Blackhawk Collection and then restored in a magnificent dark two-tone for the John W. Rich Auto Museum. It made a brief appearance at the 2006 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance but due to technical difficulties, was unable to be displayed at the show. Fortunately, Pebble has invited the car to return in 2007.

In Detail

submitted byRichard Owen
engineAlloy 60 Degree V12
positionFront Longitudinal
aspirationNatural
valvetrainOHV, 2 Valves per Cyl
displacement7338 cc / 447.8 in³
bore82.5 mm / 3.25 in
stroke114.3 mm / 4.5 in
power89.5 kw / 120 bhp
specific output16.35 bhp per litre
body / frameBody over Steel Chassis
driven wheelsRWD
front brakesDrums w/Servo Assist
f brake sizemm / in
rear brakesDrums w/Servo Assist
r brake sizemm / in
steeringWorm & Nut
f suspensionWishbones w/Semi-Elliptic Springs
r suspensionLive Axle w/Semi-Elliptic Springs
wheelbase3607 mm / 142.0 in
front track1537 mm / 60.5 in
rear track1588 mm / 62.5 in
transmission4-Speed Manual
gear ratios:1
top speed~150 kph / 93.2 mph