1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III DHC
The Duchess


Total restoration to orginal DHC body style

Whatsoever is rightly done, however humble, is noble.

Sir Henry Royce


November 19, 2007

Too many projects and not enough time....This car is currently listed on eBay.

June 7, 2007

October 5, 2005

I have been looking for one of these Phantom III handbooks for ages and was thrilled when I spotted one on eBay the other day. This morning it arrived (from England) and it really is a beautiful piece of work. Produced c.1935, it is a technical service manual that features some beautiful photography and diagrams.


Great phtography and diagrams
Exquisite wiring diagram
The following pictures show the Duchess rolling for the first time in a few years. The old tyres held air just long enough for us to move the Rolls to one of my other warehouses while some re-decoration is being carried out in the main workshop. The photographs give an idea of the mammoth scale of this car, which barely fit onto the 25 foot rollback!

I am currently looking for a company or person who's speciality is coachwork wooden framing. I really want to get cracking with installing the framework that will eventually support the new aluminium panels at the rear of the car. Any recommendations out there?


August 16, 2005

Earlier today I was delighted to hear again from Lawrence Durning Holt's grandson, Bill Champion. Bill has been sifting through some of his grandfather's papers and came across a number of references to the Duchess. It would seem that the old car had more than its fair share of reliability problems during the first few years of its life!

Bill writes:

Dan - thanks for the news that you have decided to take the plunge and restore The Duchess to the form that my grandfather would have recognized. I'm sure, though, you've done the right thing to keep the 'woodie' bits as part of the car's history.

In the notes on your web-site you mention that Mr. Thomson had good motoring from the Rolls in the 1960s. My grandfather does not appear to have been quite so lucky! Here are a few more details culled from my grandparents' letters that I have come across, supplementing those I sent previously.

In November 1938, when driving at 70 m.p.h. at dusk, they saw a ghostly white object approaching them at speed. LDH was so transfixed he forgot to brake, and only at the very last moment did the object - a swan - rise up and scrape the hood of the car, saving both a mighty smash.

At the beginning of February 1939 the car broke down on the moors when my grandparents were driving down to North Wales from Liverpool. After half an hour attempting to start it, they stopped a passing car, and sent for help which came at the end of another hour. Two men poked about in the bonnet, and said give it another try, and off it went. A fortnight later, the car broke down twice on the same trip, and had to be towed six miles into Portmadoc to a garage. On the return it broke down seven times, and eventually they gave up and got a train back to Liverpool. Joe Mawdsley, the chauffeur, stayed with it and brought it back home next day. That was when my grandmother wrote, 'and now it will certainly have to go to Derby'. But not immediately (if at all), as next weekend they were back at their house near Pwllheli in North Wales, and this time Joe managed to back the Rolls into a muck heap outside the stable at 5.30 pm on Sunday afternoon. It was stuck deep into the back axle, and Joe and LDH dug it out with spades and hoes, and the help of two farm horses, finishing at 10.30 p.m. Back in Liverpool by 1.30 a.m.

Then, at the beginning of July 1939, again on the way down to North Wales for a week-end, the petrol pump played up and LDH had to telephone Derby from a wayside box. A new pump was sent by immediate delivery to a garage in Bangor (on the N. Wales coast), and Joe Mawdsley fixed it up himself on Sunday morning. 'That was good service', LDH writes.

I have no doubt now that after the petrol ration ran out at the beginning of 1940, the car was laid up from then until the end of the war, as LDH intended. He never mentions using it during that period. It is a little surprising that no family photos of the car have survived (nor does it appear on my grandmother's cine-films, which I mentioned before). But a lot of the family possessions were burnt out in a warehouse at Garston, Liverpool, at the end of the May Blitz of Liverpool in 1941, and perhaps any photos were destroyed then.

All best wishes, Bill Champion.

August 12, 2005

The deed is done!

Yesterday I removed the roof and much of the wood cladding, thereby taking the first steps on the road to returning the Duchess to her original DHC configuration. I truly believe that Sir Henry Royce would have approved. To quote the great man, "Whatsoever is rightly done, however humble, is noble."

I haven't had as much fun for ages!

Mrs M ready for the open road....

My thanks to Mark Heathcote in the UK for translating yesterday's mystery scribblings on the reverse side of the screen pillar wood trim. Apparently they say windshield right and windshield left, in German. As Mark rightly points out, these notes were most likely made during the renovations undertaken in Switzerland for then owner, Robert Hafter, just before he sold the car to Andy Warhol in 1972.
Wind (protection) shield left
Wind shield right
Anyway, without further ado, let's get to the bit where we chop the roof off!
I decided to removed the hear
board first
Beneath the vinyl it was clear the
aluminium skin was simply tacked
to the wooden frame
With the head board removed, I
decided to remove all the doors
Original floor boards in excellent
condition beneath Woodie 
false floors
Battery obviously sat beneath 
the rear seat when car was a DHC
Removed and never to be reinstalled!
Time for me to have some fun!
B posts were a bit of a bear 
due to steel reinforcement
Where did that double chin
come from?!
Nearly there....
Off she comes!
Lawrence is eager to get
to work on the car!
Eric and LT check out the
Mrs M approves of the decision to
return the car to a DHC

August 11, 2005

Time to take the roof off.....

Yesterday I had an epiphany and finally decided it was time to return the Duchess to her original drop head coupe configuration. It is no secret that I have always felt that the current 'Woodie' configuration is not her best look, to put it mildly. When the Duchess was new, she was one of the most majestic two door convertibles in the world. I have resolved to make her so again.

I plan on keeping all the old wood panels and whatever else I remove during the process, as (ugly or not) the time she spent as a Woodie is still an important part of the history of this car.

I am hoping that I may discover a few more of the car's secrets as she starts to come apart. As you will see from the photos below, I have already found a clue that I suspect relates to the shop that did the Woodie conversion in Scotland in c.1947. It will also be interesting to discover just how much of the original coachwork still exists beneath all the carpentry! Watch this space!

First step was to remove the
sun visors
Important to discover what is
behind this header board
The horizontal beam is the
original conv top front bow
These latches are the original
conv top latches
The eyelet latches would have attached 
to the threaded posts on the screen
The pillar trim is also original
Rolls Royce equipment
What does this mean? See
update dated 8/12 above!
Screen removed, doors and 
roof next!

June 29, 2005

A few weeks ago I was chuffed to death to receive a letter from Mr. Howard Phillips, the grandson of the great Charles Sykes, the artist who designed the original Spirit of Ecstasy for Lord Montagu back in 1910 (see full story below).

After creating what he thought would be a 'one off' for his friend, Lord Montague, Charles Sykes was eventually asked to present a version of his Spirit of Ecstasy to the Rolls Royce company, which he duly did in February 1911. This led to a commission from Rolls Royce to manufacture a Spirit of Ecstasy for all new Rolls Royce motor cars. Charles Sykes remained personally involved in the manufacture of the most famous radiator ornament in the world, working closely with his daughter, Jo (my correspondent's mother) until mass production took over in 1939.

An interesting twist to the Spirit of Ecstasy story is that Henry Royce did not like the use of hood ornaments, which he judged to be mere fashionable baubles, that "spoil the clear line of the car's bow". The order to create the sculpture was given during Royce's absence from the company works through illness. Thus it became a habit that Rolls Royce cars used by Sir Henry Royce were rarely driven with a mascot in place.

Howard tells me he was trawling the Internet looking for information about his grandfather, Charles Sykes, and stumbled across our webpage and the amazing story of the Duchess.

January 2, 2004
Aidan Cline (McDonalds in hand) is dwarfed by the massive PIII grill

June 4, 2003

Research notes - Part 14

I have another fantastic update for you today! Yesterday evening I received the following email from Rosie Thomson in Hampshire, England.

I am the daughter of Robin Thomson (R.D.C. not  E.O.C,  this mistake is due to his bad handwriting!) who owned your  Rolls Royce Phantom III shooting brake.

In this morning's mail was a copy of Classic & Sportscar magazine with an article about "The Duchess". It was sent by a friend of my father who used to service the car at Urquhart's Garage in Alton, Hampshire.

My parents owned Clinkers, Chawton, from 1963 to 1970 where my father dealt in early oak furniture and sculpture, hence the need for a shooting brake. The attached picture is my father with my elder brother Chris (aged 2 years) sitting on the car!

The good news is that my father is still alive and running "Clinkers Antiques Ltd."! He is trying to remember who he bought it from, he knows it was a local garage, but is unable to remember the name. I think the Chawton police have misled you somewhat because my father may well be a little eccentric now but he was only in his late 30's then! He remembers (Robert) Hafter well as he came to buy some antiques in 1966 and bought the car as well.

We are currently trying to find out more information for you and possibly another photograph.

Although my father only owned the car for a short time it is very exciting to find out that she is still going and is now in Texas!
What a lovely story she has to tell.

Please feel free to email me back and we will try to answer any other questions you may have.

R.D.C. Thomson and son Chris at Clinkers in
Chawton, Hants c 1965
As you can imagine, I was absolutely thrilled to hear from Rosie. I immediately asked her if it would be possible for me to speak to her father, which led to me having a wonderful chat with Robin Thomson himself earlier this morning!

I am delighted to report that Robin was an absolute gold mine of information! In addition to telling me how he came to own (and sell) the Duchess, he was also able to provide me with some fascinating anecdotal history about the car, himself and Clinkers Antiques.

In 1963, Robin bought an Elizabethan cottage called 'Clinkers' in Chawton, Hants. The offical address was Clinkers, Next to Jane Austen's House, Chawton, Hants. The (then) 410 year old house was so named as it had been occupied by 20 generations of the Clinker family. Robin then started an antique business which he operated from Clinkers, keeping the old 'family name'. [I am delighted to report that Robin Thomson still owns and operates Clinkers Antiques Ltd. to this very day].

Jane Austen's House, Chawton, Hants
Clinkers is the cottage to the right of this picture
In the early spring of 1964, Robin Thomson was driving through the English countryside (in the course of his travels buying and selling antiques) when he stumbled across the Duchess, looking rather sad and neglected, parked outside a small garage in a neighbouring Hampshire village. Thinking the capacious shooting brake would be an ideal vehicle for him to use in the course of his newly established antiques business, he bought it [4/14/64].

He was told by the salesman that the car was being sold on commission on behalf of a man who owned a hunting lodge in Scotland [presumably, J. C. Stewart-Clark]. He recalls being told that the gentleman in Scotland converted the car to its current shooting brake specs because he used to load the car up with guns, dogs and comrades. [This fits exactly with the information I received from Sir Jack Stewart-Clark - see research notes - Part 8].

Shortly after acquiring the Duchess, Robin joined the Rolls Royce Owners Club, mainly to help him find spare parts for the car. [By his own admission, it was Robin's poor handwriting on the club enrollment document which led to the RROC recording him as E.O.C. Thomson rather than R.D.C Thomson]. He then drove the Rolls five or six thousand miles a year for the next couple of years. The car was maintained by Urquhart's Garage in nearby Alton. [It was an ex-employee of Urquhart's, Jerry Goddard, who sent Robin the Classic & Sportscar article about the Duchess]. Apparently it never needed anything other than routine maintenance and, other than getting a little hot under the collar from time to time, the Duchess performed admirably. Robin particularly remembers the magnificent V12 engine!

One amusing recollection Robin shared with me was the time when he was at a village petrol station filling the massive petrol tank. This was at a time when some rural petrol stations still had hand operated pumps. After working the hand pump from side to side for many minutes, the attendant turned to Robin and said, "Would you please turn the engine off, sir, as I appear to be loosing the battle"!

In 1966, Robert Hafter [see research notes - Part 9] visited Clinkers on an antique buying trip and ended up buying the Duchess from Robin. The car was flown over to Switzerland from a tiny private airport in Herne, Kent. Apparently Robin decided to sell the car because it was not really appropriate transport for a young man with growing business and family responsibilities. He reports only the fondest memories of the time he owned the Duchess, and, for the record, registered his vote for me to restore the car in its current shooting brake form.

I look forward to receiving further information and photographs that Robin believes he may have in his archives.

I have said before that I feel privileged to be the current custodian of this great old motocar. It was thrill for me to be able to reminisce with Robin Thomson earlier today.

Dan Mooney
Team CJ

Complete Ownership History (Revised)

Lawrence Durning Holt
Liverpool, England
First owner
J.C. Stewart-Clark
Edinburgh, Scotland
Converted car to shooting 
brake specs
R.D.C. Thomson
Chawton, England
English antique dealer
Robert Hafter
Zurich, Switzerland
Swiss antique dealer
Andy Warhol
New York, USA
Artist and film maker
Fred Hughes
New York, USA
Warhol's manager and friend
Tom Hughes
Hunt, Texas
Inherited car from his brother, Fred
Dan Mooney
Austin, Texas
Vehicle under restoration
at Classic Jaguar in Austin, TX

June 2, 2003

Research notes - Part 13

Over the weekend I was delighted to hear from Steve Stuckey (co-author, Phantom IIs and Phantom IIIs) who has come up with two photographs of the Duchess during the time she was in New York. The first photograph shows the car in a New York suburb in 1974 (during Warhol's ownership) and the second image shows the car in storage during the early 1990's.

Both photographs share something of a Jaguar theme, with a Mk X in the background of the first picture and an E Type FHC in the foreground of the second photograph!

I was particularly pleased to receive these two photographs because they are the first images we have managed to unearth of the car in New York. My thanks to Steve Stuckey!

The Duchess in NY, 1974
In storage in NY, early 1990s

May 30, 2003

Research notes - Part 12

I managed to persuade Robert Hafter in Switzerland to send us a picture of himself for our ownership file.

Robert Hafter circa 1987

May 13, 2003

Research notes - Part 11

Last week I received more great information from Robert Hafter in Switzerland. He tells how it was he came to buy the Duchess from E.O.C. Thomson, recounts how the Spirit of Ecstasy was stolen, and also adds a fascinating twist to the transaction which led to Andy Warhol owning the car in 1972.

Mr Hafter writes:

About the car: I first saw it in front of the shop of Clinkers Antiques, when travelling England for buying antiques. I bought the car and had it flown to Basle where I was living at that time and where I owned an antique shop.

I also had an antique shop in Zurich and used to drive [the Rolls] there once a week. It was in front of my shop in Zurich where the emblem was stolen, where I took the photograph of the RR and where Andy Warhol had seen the car.

I sold the car to Bruno Bischofberger for about SFr. 20'000.-. He asked me not to mention that price to anybody because he wanted to have painted his wife and daughter by Warhol for payment, which was worth SFr. 80'000.-!!

April 28, 2003

Research notes - Part 10

This morning I received a couple of photographs from Mr. Robert Hafter (previous owner, Switzerland) showing the car looking resplendent outside Mr. Hafter's Zurich antique shop. Although the photos are very clearly taken in the same location as the black and white image shown below, it would seem that the new images were taken after the woodwork was renovated shortly before the car was sold to Andy Warhol in 1972. Mr. Hafter tells me that he had this done locally at a cost of some 15,000 FF.

If you look carefully at the colour photographs below, it is possible to see that the main wooden panels are darker than they had been in the earlier shot, and the car also appears to have picked up coachlines along the door tops. In fact, these 'coachlines' are hand painted brass fittings which had been removed by the time I received the car (they were in the trunk). Notice also Mr. Hafter's name on the reserved parking bay!

I am very grateful to Robert Hafter for taking the time to find and mail these photographs to me. They are currently the only colour photographs I have of my car before it came into my possession.

Zurich, c.1972
Notice Mr Hafter's reserved
parking bay!

April 13, 2003

Research notes - Part 9

Although it has been about four weeks since I updated this page, I can assure you we have not been idle! In fact, there is much to report.

Spirit of Ecstasy - back where she belongs.....

As I mentioned earlier, when I bought the Duchess she was missing her Spirit of Ecstasy. I have since managed to acquire two of the famous radiator mascots, both from collectors in England via eBay. The first one I bought was a Charles Sykes original which had, at some time in its life, been converted into a rather grand ashtray. This particular figure is in magnificent, virtually 'new' condition. I bought the second Spirit of Ecstasy because it appeared that it might have the threaded mounting plinth I needed to install the first figure on the Duchess' radiator. Unfortunately, when it arrived, I discovered that the plinth was the smaller version as used on certain 20/25 models. The second Spirit of Ecstasy, made by Charles Sykes' daughter, was also somewhat tarnished, so I decided to switch that one to the ashtray and to use the first figure on the car.

I then managed to source a correct cap/plinth and installed the first Spirit of Ecstacy (the Charles Sykes original) on the car.

Rather grand ashtray!
Mascot in perfect condition
Back where she belongs!
The Duchess on film?

I heard further from Bill Champion (grandson of Lawrence Holt) that he has turned up more cine film taken by his grandmother during the time when Lawrence Holt owned our Rolls. At the time of writing, Bill is converting this film into video and will obviously let me know if the footage includes any shots of the Duchess. Needless to say, we are all keeping our fingers crossed!

I was also delighted to receive a gift from Bill in the form of a dedicated book written by his mother, Olive Champion. The book tells the story of Olive's life and travels and is now one of my most prized possessions.

Ownership chain now complete!

Some time back, acting upon information received from Vincent Fremont in NY, we wrote to the Vehicle Licensing Authority in Basel, Switzerland. Last week I was thrilled to receive the following information from a Mr. Thomas Loeliger of that office:

The 1937 Rolls Royce (BS 66662) was registered to a Mr Robert Hafter in Basel, Switzerland between July 22, 1966 and October 23, 1972. Mr Hafter bought the car from an English antique dealer (E.O C. Thomson) and sold the car to a Mr. Andy Warhol of New York.

As if this news wasn't exciting enough, Mr. Loeliger went on to inform me that he had actually spoken to Mr. Hafter and obtained his permission to provide me with his contact information! I am delighted to report that Mr. Hafter responded to an email I sent him and gave me the following information:

He confirmed that he had indeed bought the Rolls from E.O.C. Thomson of Chawton, Hants. Mr Thomson told him that the car had been converted into a shooting brake in Scotland, shortly after the war. Having owned and used the car for a number of years, he had some repairs done to the body and then decided to sell it. At that time, Andy Warhol and his Swiss agent, Bruno Bischofberger, happened to be passing Mr. Hafter's antique shop in Zurich. Warhol saw the Rolls and bought it on the spot. Apparently Bruno Bischofberger handled the transaction for Warhol and the car was shipped to New York.

Interestingly, Mr. Hafter also informed me that the photograph we published in Part 2 of our investigation (now reproduced below) was taken outside his Zurich antique shop - which he still owns to this day. This is precisely where Andy Warhol first saw (and bought) the Duchess.

Mr. Hafter has kindly undertaken to try to find contact information for E.O.C. Thomson, if he is still alive.

The Duchess outside Robert Hafter's antique shop in Zurich, Switzerland (c.1972)

Complete Ownership History

Lawrence Durning Holt
Liverpool, England
First owner
J.C. Stewart-Clark
Edinburgh, Scotland
Converted car to shooting 
brake specs
E.O.C. Thomson
Chawton, England
English antique dealer
Robert Hafter
Zurich, Switzerland
Swiss antique dealer
Andy Warhol
New York, USA
Artist and film maker
Fred Hughes
New York, USA
Warhol's manager and friend
Tom Hughes
Hunt, Texas
Inherited car from his brother, Fred
Dan Mooney
Austin, Texas
Vehicle under restoration
to original DHC specs

March 17, 2003

Research notes - Part 8

Earlier today I spoke to Vince Fremont in my attempts to trace Jed Johnson, the person Pat Hacket said had been a frequent driver of the our Rolls while the car was in New York. I learned that sadly Jed Johnson was killed on TWA Flight 800 in July 1996. On a happier note, Vince believes he may have some Polaroids he took of the car during the period Andy Warhol owned it. To date we have not come across any photographs of the car while it was in New York.

The Spirit of Ecstasy

The Spirit of Ecstasy
Eleanor VelascoThornton
When we first acquired our Phantom III it was missing two vital component parts - a Stromberg carburetor and the Spirit of Ecstasy. We have since managed to source both items and I thought it might be interesting to include a little history of how the most famous car mascot in the world came into being.

Designed by Charles Robinson Sykes, The Spirit of Ecstasy  has adorned the radiators of Rolls Royce motor cars since 1911. This wonderful mascot was modeled after a young woman who had bewitching beauty, intellect and esprit - but not the social status which might have permitted her  to marry the man with whom she had fallen in love.

The model was Eleanor Velasco Thornton, whose relationship with John Walter Edward Scott-Montagu (Lord Montagu) remained a secret for over a decade, principally  because both lovers acted with the utmost discretion. John Scott, heir to his father's title, was a pioneer of the automobile in England. From 1902 he was editor of the "The Car". Eleanor  Thornton served as his secretary. Friends of the pair knew of their close relationship but they were sufficiently understanding to overlook it.

A member of this circle of friends was the sculptor, Charles Sykes. Lord Montagu ordered the creation of a special mascot for his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. The small statue depicted a young woman in fluttering robes having placed one forefinger to her lips. The sculptor chose Eleanor Thornton as the model for this figurine, which was christened "The Whisper".

Lord Montagu had made the decision to put a mascot on top of the radiator, and it soon became fashinable for others to do so. Rolls Royce had noted other owners of their cars following the new vogue, but doing so with questionable style by choosing mundane or even risqué and vulgar subjects.

Following Lord Montagu's commission, Charles Sykes was asked to create a mascot which in future would adorn every Rolls Royce. In February 1911 he presented the "Spirit of Ecstasy", which was easily recognizable as being a variation on the theme of "The Whisper". The similarity was hardly coincidental because the model for both had been Miss Thornton.

The Spirit of Ecstasy was delivered by the company with every Rolls-Royce. Each was done using a technique which was thousands of years old and known as the lost-wax method. This practice results in the moulds being destroyed to reveal the casting, which explains why no two figures are exactly alike. Sykes, assisted by his daughter Jo, remained responsible for manufacturing the Spirit of Ecstasy for many years. Likewise, each of the unique creations bore his signature on the plinth. The sculptures are either signed "Charles Sykes, February 1911" or sometimes "Feb 6, 1911" or "6.2.11". Even after Rolls Royce took over the casting of the figures in 1948 each Spirit of Ecstasy continued to receive this inscription until 1951.

From 1911 to 1914 the Spirit of Ecstasy was silver-plated and thus many thought it a massive piece of precious metal - one reason for the frequent thefts. In smaller versions, and now made from highly polished nickel alloy, the radiator decoration has stood its ground on every Rolls Royce, including those in the present day model range.

Over the years various alterations have been made. Mascots for Rolls Royce motor cars built at the Springfield plant in the USA were modified. Bowing a little more forward, no longer were they a danger to the bonnet. The original version had touched the bonnet sides when these were opened without the precaution having been taken of turning the figure sideways.

Royce did not like the Spirit of Ecstasy, which he judged her to be just a fashionable bauble and complained that she spoiled the clear line of the car's bow. The order to create the sculpture was given during the chief engineer's illness and had been absent. Thus it became a habit that Rolls-Royce cars used by Royce were rarely driven with a mascot in place.

Towards the end of the twenties the new body line of sports saloons had reduced the height of the coachwork. Royce was prompted to think about a lower version of the Spirit of Ecstasy, by which alteration a driver might benefit from clear vision even with the windscreen lower and his seating position reduced in turn. Accordingly, Sykes created a kneeling version of the mascot, which fulfilled this requirement.

The kneeling version remained after the Second World War for the new Silver Wraith and Silver Dawn. All following models, however, sported a standing mascot, although this has now been reduced in size considerably compared to the old one.

Rarely is the correct term "Spirit of Ecstasy" used - detractors remark this was only done at the factory in Crewe. The nickname "Emily" is widespread and Americans speak of the "Silver Lady" or the "Flying Lady".

In 1920 Rolls Royce had taken part in a competition in Paris for the most apposite mascot in the world. This they did with a gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy, which secured Rolls Royce first place. From then on gold plated versions of the Spirit of Ecstasy were available from the company - at an extra charge.

Safety regulations in some countries turned out to be a stumbling block to the fitting of the Spirit of Ecstasy. She qualified as a sharp edged piece of metal jutting from the coachwork which might injure a victim in an accident. Because of this, in Switzerland during the second half of the 1970's, the installation of mascots on Rolls Royces was forbidden and purchasers of a new Rolls Royce delivered to that country found their mascot in the glove compartment. The problem was solved with the Silver Spirit and Silver Spur. At the merest knock the Spirit of Ecstasy sank into the radiator surround and vanished out of harms way. Thus were the safety regulations satisfied.

The woman who had been the model for the radiator decoration, was not to appreciate its success. Eleanor Thornton lost her life when, on 30 December 1915, on the SS Persia, while on passage to India, was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine. She had been accompanying Lord Montagu who had been directed to take over a command in India. He was thought to have been killed, too, but survived and was rescued a few days later by another ship. On his return to England he read the obituary articles in the newspapers about his own demise.

Adapted in part from www.darkforce.com/royce/ecstacy.htm

Sir Jack Stewart-Clark

This morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Sir Jack Stewart-Clark on the telephone. It turns out that it was in fact his 'Uncle Tommy' (J.C. Stewart-Clark) who owned the Duchess in 1947, not Sir Jack.

Sir Jack told me that he would never have converted such a car from a DHC to a shooting brake! J.C. Stewart-Clark, on the other hand, who took frequent hunting trips in the Perthshire countryside, may very well have carried out the conversion.

Unfortunately, J.C. Stewart-Clark has now passed away so (at this time) we are no nearer finding out who actually converted the Duchess into a shooting brake.

Update report - March 16, 2003

Research notes - Part 7

Earlier this week I was delighted to hear further from Will Champion (Lawrence Holt's grandson) who has been doing a little detective work on our behalf. As well as finding a number of documentary references to the Duchess, and some great photographs of his grandfather, Will has also tracked down the person who acquired the car from Lawrence Holt in 1947!

 Lawrence Durning Holt
 Lord Mayor of Liverpool
 LDH (right) at launch of the Achilles
Dundee, Scotland, 1948
 LDH on his yacht off the Isle of Mull
Will writes:

"I have done a little more rooting around the papers we still have here, and come up with some bits and pieces that may be of use to you. For much of the first part of the 1939/45 war LDH's wife (my grandmother) was living in North Wales while LDH remained in Liverpool. During that time he wrote quite a number of letters to her, and among them I came across the following references:

On 1 September 1939 (just before the declaration of war) LDH writes, 'I've telephoned 52 [Ullett Road - the family home] to get busy with the darkening schemes [for the black-out] & asked Elliot & Quayle to conform the Rolls' lights to the regulations. The inevitable [i.e. war] seems now bound to come to pass.'

[You already know of Elliot and Quayle (or Quale), as they are mentioned in your Update Report of 10 February 2003. This shows that by 1939 my grandfather's car was being serviced by that firm, and that is confirmed by the details in the report which show that parts for 3CP134 were being supplied to Elliott and Quayle in May 1939. My mother also recollects the name, so I guess they were based in or around Liverpool. That could easily be established by consulting local trade directories of that time.

Next, on 3 December 1939 LDH writes to his wife, 'These [sic - should be 'The'] Rolls is full - 32 gallons + 16 remain plus ration = 61, or 3 trips before 31st Dec.' This of course refers to the petrol rationing. I think the trips referred to must be the visits he made at weekends to their cottage near Chwilog in North Wales. From later letters, however, it is quite clear that whenever LDH later got a chance to go over to North Wales (only rarely, because of office business and the bombing of Liverpool), he would go by train. So I guess use of the Rolls was greatly curtailed during the war - that would make sense.

Lastly, on 23 April 1940 LDH writes, 'The numbers Quayle expects to find on the brass bands of the rear axles are 26369 or 26866, but it is important to get the exact reading from each. The car will have to be lifted at the Garage - cost 1s/6d last time'. You will understand what this means better than I, and what it implies for the work done on the car at that time.

My grandmother was also quite a keen user of cine-film, and we still have some home film taken by her in the 1930s, so I had quite a lot of hopes on that score. Unfortunately all the film we have (converted to video form) was taken about 1930. There is a very brief sequence of LDH loading up his previous Rolls, but none of the car that you now have - frustrating!

However, I have much better news about the next owner of the Rolls, J.C. Stewart Clark of Edinburgh, Scotland, who had the car from 1947 to 1964. I was sure I knew of the name so I did a little bit of research, and I think I have your man. Better still, he is still alive! Sir John ('Jack') Stewart-Clark, born in 1929, was a European Member of Parliament for the Sussex East constituency from 1979 to 1999. He comes from one of the great Scottish business families (in textiles, Coates etc.), and inherited the family seat at Dundas Castle in 1995.

This castle lies at Queensferry, near the Forth Bridge, just outside Edinburgh. Since then he has converted it to a conference centre etc. There is a web-site devoted to the Dundas Castle, its history and the families associated with it, and this contains all the background information you will need. It also has a contact point, and you should have no difficulty getting in touch with Sir Jack. Here is the link, www.dundascastle.co.uk/index.html.

According to 'Who's Who', Sir Jack lists one of his recreations as 'vintage cars' no less - so hopefully you will get a good response! You should soon know whether it was he who converted your car into a 'woody', as I suspect.

Best wishes, Will

As you can imagine, I was extremely excited to hear that Sir Jack Stewart-Clark is still apparently alive and well! I have already emailed him and asked him to contact me regarding his ownership of the Rolls between 1947 and 1964. It is an amazing stroke of luck that he was such a young man when he first acquired the car.

Dundas Castle - Home to the Duchess between 1947 and 1964?
Although I will try to resist the temptation to jump to conclusions before I (hopefully) hear back from Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, I can certainly imagine the car being converted into a shooting brake during this period for use on the magnificent 1,500 acre Dundas Castle estate. Is it possible that a certain convertible top frame has lain hidden for half a century within these ancient castle walls? Can't you just imagine the Duchess pulling up in front of that grand entrance?

Update report - March 10, 2003

Research notes - Part 6

What a fantastic start to the sixth week of our investigations! This morning I received the following letter:

Dear Mr. Mooney,

I was amazed to come across your site about the 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III DHC which you are currently restoring. My name is William Champion (48 years), I live in Herefordshire in England, and I am the grandson of Lawrence Durning Holt, the first owner of your car. My mother, Olive Champion, who also lives in Herefordshire, is still alive aged 80, and is the eldest and only surviving child (of four) of LDH.

We were both much amused to discover that LDH's car was later owned by Andy Warhol. Once I saw the particular angle of your interest, I asked my mother what she could remember about it. Alas, she remembers little - what she does recall very well is LDH's first car, another convertible Rolls, which he bought about 1922. It was 'huge', and a great embarrassment to my mother as by the 1930s her school mates used to rib her about its age. LDH's wife Evelyn was also embarrassed by it, and longed to get rid of it - partly I suspect because she was not allowed to drive it! So about 1935 she got her own car.

It was a real job to get LDH to part with his first Rolls (he was so fond of it), but my mother does remember the excitement when the new Rolls - your car - first arrived at 52 Ullett Road, Liverpool, where the family lived (then one of the best addresses in the city). When I showed my mother the picture of the car as a convertible, she recognized it immediately, but never as a shooting brake. So I think it probable that the conversion was done after my grandfather sold the car in 1947. It certainly wouldn't have been done during the war. When war began in 1939 the Blue Funnel Fleet consisted of 77 ships, and when peace returned only 36 remained, and more ships were also lost in the non-'Blue Flue' parts of the company. My grandfather, and everyone in the 'Red Duster' (British Merchant Navy), were in it up to their eye-balls (in all nearly 30,000 dead). Also, we don't feel that a shooting brake was LDH's style at all - though the possibility that he did the conversion about 1945-7 can't perhaps be ruled out altogether.

It's a great pity that my mother remembers so little about your car, but by 1937 she was away from Liverpool a lot, first at boarding school, and afterwards during the war at Oxford University and then at the code-breaking establishment at Bletchley Park, intercepting Luftwaffe signals. But I will keep probing her memories to see if we can come up with something new! We don't appear to have any photos of the car, but again, we will keep you posted. Later on in retirement my grandfather had a Daimler which he drove round the Herefordshire lanes at terrifying speed - or so my eldest brother remembers. (It was to this county that LDH had retired in 1953, and it was here that he died in 1961.)

There are a few details in your account of LDH and Alfred Holt & Co. that could be corrected. Properly, Ocean Steam Ship Company was founded in 1865, though the first vessel, the 'Agamemnon', didn't sail until the following year. The company was always run by a group of managers, so no-one - even Alfred Holt - ever really handed over control to anyone else. LDH actually joined the family business at the end of 1903 - the year 1908 was when he became a manager. So it's not true to say it was 'his fleet' in the years between 1919 and 1934 - he was only one of the managers, and did not become a senior manager until 1941 when his eldest brother Richard Durning Holt died.

Although he had no technical training, he took over responsibility of the company's technical management after the sudden death during the great influenza epidemic in 1919 of the fleet's naval architect Harry Wortley (a great figure), and in the 1920s absorbed a lot about ship construction and propulsion. I wonder how much that knowledge may have stimulated an interest in cars and the internal combustion engine?

I hope the above points don't seem too pedantic - they are not meant to be. Good luck with your restoration, and we would be delighted if we could ever see a picture of the final result. It's been a strange and grand thing to see a ghost of the past come back like this. Never could we have guessed that LDH's Rolls still existed - in Texas! If you have any queries of your own, don't hesitate to ask and we'll see what we can do.

All best wishes,

Will Champion

Earlier today I had the pleasure of speaking with Pat Hacket (The Warhol Diaries). Pat remembers the Rolls Royce very well and traveled in it extensively during the mid 1970's. She particularly recalls using the car almost every day (1975) when Andy was looking for locations for the film 'Bad', a film he eventually made in 1976. Pat also recalled numerous trips to Montauk, as well as memorable trips to the race track. She reports that it was 'a great car which never left them stranded'!

Athough she did indeed drive the car on the Montauk Estate, apparently Jed Johnston (another very close Warhol friend) was almost always at the wheel when the car was in New York. Pat believes she may have some photographs of her times with the car and has promised to search through her archives.

One other snippet of information I received from Pat is that the dog collar and leash Tom Hughes found in the back of the car would have belonged to Andy's Daschund, 'Amos', another regular passenger in the Duchess!

Update report - March 5, 2003

Research notes - Part 5

We have now been able to speak to Vincent Fremont, a gentleman we knew to have been a close friend and business associate of Andy Warhol at the time the artist owned the Duchess. Mr. Fremont recalls Andy Warhol buying the Duchess in very late 1974 or early 1975 from his (Warhol's) European agent, a Mr. Bruno Bischofberger. Mr. Bischofberger apparently still owns and operates his art gallery in Zurich to this day.

Vincent Fremont himself took the Duchess to the Department of Transport in New York on behalf of Andy Warhol, sorting out all the importation and registration paperwork. The 1976 purchase date mentioned in Bob Colacello’s book 'Holy Terror', he says, would have been when it first went to the estate in Montauk.

Mr. Fremont also told us that Andy never drove the Duchess in all the time he owned it. One of his friends, usually Fred Hughes or Pat Hackett (The Warhol Diaries), acted as informal chauffeurs. Apparently the car was kept at the Montauk estate in the summer and garaged in Southampton during the winter. He even recalled it being left outside one winter and that the wood suffered badly from the effects of the weather.

Mr. Fremont also confirmed that Fred Hughes did indeed buy the Duchess in 1978, immediately placing it in storage in New Jersey.

We have contacted The Bruno Bischofberger Gallery in Zurich and left a message for Mr. Bischofberger regarding his sale of the Duchess to Warhol. We understand that Mr. Bischofberger now only comes in during the afternoons and evenings, so we look forward to hearing back from him in due course. Interestingly enough, his secretary was able to tell us that the license plate (visible in what we had erroneously assumed was a photograph taken in Germany) was in fact a Swiss plate issued in nearby Basle City. We now believe that it is more likely that this photograph (see week 2) was taken in Switzerland, presumably while the car was owned by Mr. Bruno Bischofberger.

As a post script to the Swiss connection, Team CJ's Andy McCreadie was delighted to inform me that his beloved Manchester United beat Basle City in the Champions League last week ;-)

We will keep you posted as and when we hear back from Zurich.

In the past week I have also spoken at length with Michael Ware, recently retired Director of the British National Motor Museum at Bealieu and author of the 'Lost and Found' section of Classic & Sportscar magazine. It was particularly interesting to hear Michael's thoughts regarding the question of whether we should be restoring the Duchess as a DHC or as a shooting brake. Michael suggests that because the car has spent most of its life in its current form, and was owned by Andy Warhol as such, we should at least give serious consideration to restoring it as a 'woody'.

This also raises the question of how such a decision might have a bearing on the value of the car, following the restoration. Indeed, does Andy Warhol's ownership add value to the car? If so, would it be worth more as a piece of Warhol memorabilia in the form in which it was owned by the artist, or would it be more valuable as a totally restored and incredibly rare Phantom III DHC? My gut tells me that the Duchess needs to be a DHC. Personally, I would love to see her returned to her glorious original specification. That said, I cannot totally ignore the fiscal implications of such a decision, and I recognize that the decision is not one to be taken lightly.....

On the subject of the significance (or otherwise) of Andy Warhol's ownership, earlier this week I received a call from Nick Benwell of Christie's New York office. I was delighted to hear from Nick that, in his opinion, restoring the car as a DHC would do little to devalue Warhol's ownership. He did suggest, however, that we should retain all the wood panels in case any future owner was desperate to have the car exactly as it had been when Warhol owned it. This particular phone call cheered me greatly, as I am not sure I could muster any enthusiasm to restore the Duchess as a woody!

It is quite amazing just how much interest this great old car has generated. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the story of her restoration is attracting more interest than perhaps any other automotive restoration in history. Earlier this week we saw over 60,000 hits on the CJ webpage in a single day. I am glad you are apparently enjoying the story, folks!

Update report - February 26, 2003

Research notes - Part 4

This week we are going to intensify our investigations into the 'unknown'. By this I mean the 'grey' period from the Duchess being owned by E.O.C Thomson in the UK during the mid 1960's to when it arrived in the USA in what we believe to be the early 1970's. We are also trying to find out how the mysterious "Mr. White", mentioned by Mark Tuttle, fits into this period, if at all.

Emails have been sent to Andre Blaize (Phantom III data base) to see if he could fill in any blanks in this period, and also to a Mr. Rick Ford in England. Apparently Rick Ford was an active RR dealer in the 1960's who handled quite a few of the Rolls Royces that changed hands during the period we are investigating. It is quite possible he may have come across the Duchess during that time. Hopefully we might learn more from one of these two gentlemen.

A little closer to home, we are trying to speak to some of the people who had contact with Andy Warhol during the 1970's. We would like to be able to nail down when, precisely, the Duchess first arrived in New York. We have also been talking to Tommy Hughes, brother of  the late Freddie Hughes, Warhol’s close friend who bought the Duchess from Andy.

Tommy Hughes was extremely helpful and I enjoyed chatting to him about his brother and the Warhol years generally. Tommy recalls that Freddie bought the Duchess from Warhol in early 1978. Apparently he immediately put the car into storage in NJ and the car was never licensed again. This information ties in with the New York safety sticker on the windscreen which is dated May 1977.

Tommy told me an amusing story about how his brother came to own the Duchess. It would appear that friends of Freddie and Andy Warhol would kid around with Fred about never having owned a car in his life. To combat this Fred persuaded Warhol to sell him the Duchess, which he immediately placed in long term storage. He then answered his friend's ribbing by saying, "OK, I now own a car. You didn't say anything about me having to drive it, did you?"

We know the Duchess then remained in storage for more than twenty years until it was brought to Tommy's ranch in Texas. We are sure that it has not run on the road since Freddie Hughes purchased it 25 years ago.

Tommy Hughes also gave us the name of a Mr. Vincent Fremont in New York. Mr. Fremont had apparently worked with Andy Warhol and Freddie Hughes for many years and was actively involved in setting up the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. Tommy believes Mr. Fremont may know who Andy bought the Duchess from, and when. More on this later in this report....

I am pleased to report that new leads are popping up all the time! It is gratifying to hear from parties who have become interested in our weekly reports on the Duchess project and have stories to tell. The latest contact has been from a Mr. Gary Comenas in England, who has a web site devoted to Andy Warhol. The website focuses mainly on the artist's films, but also carries extensive biographical information. Mr. Comenas has came up with one important piece of information that fits into our ownership jig-saw puzzle. He reports that, according to Bob Colacello (who worked closely with Andy Warhol and edited Interview Magazine) Warhol bought the Duchess in the summer of 1976 for use at his “compound” in Montauk, NY, but used it rarely because it was 'always in the garage being repaired'!

This information now gives us other names and avenues to follow. We are hopeful that Bob Colacello, if we can contact him, might well fill in a few more blanks. We are continuing the research and will keep you updated. We will keep you posted!

Lawrence Durning Holt

Lawrence Holt was the first owner of the Duchess and the person for whom the car was built. By all accounts, Lawrence Holt was a remarkable man from a remarkable family. Although the following story has little to do with the Duchess, we nonetheless thought it would be interesting to anyone following our research.

In 1866, Alfred Holt, an engineer, formed The Ocean Steamship Company with his brother, Phillip. At a time when sailing ships ruled the waves, Alfred Holt was an innovator and was convinced that steam engine technology was the future of shipping. On April 19th 1866, Alfred Holt's ship, The Agamemnon, became the first steamship to forge a link between Great Britain and the Far East.

In 1895, Alfred Holt handed over the reigns of his now prosperous, Liverpool based company to his nephew, Richard Durning Holt. Under Richard Durning Holt's leadership, the Ocean Steamship Company, which by then had become known as the Blue Funnel Line, established itself as one of the world's greatest shipping companies. In 1908, Richard Holt's younger brother, (our hero) Lawrence Durning Holt, joined the family business. Lawrence saw the company through two world wars, and the great depression, before retiring in 1953.

The 'non-conformist conscience', which burned intermittently in families like the Holts, illuminated Lawrence's life with a steady glow. Lawrence Holt was preoccupied from early manhood by social problems. The struggles of seamen and the dockers to obtain just reward for their labours evoked his understanding and sympathy. Despite this, his greatest memorial must lie in those links of affection and trust, annealed by a common aim, which, in peace and war, he forged with the officers of his fleet. Indeed the figure of  'Mr Lawrence' endures as a beloved memory in Blue Funnel hearts, ashore as well as afloat.

The three years prior to the outbreak of the war were one of the most profitable periods in the company's history with profits on its main operations never falling below £500,000.00 (pounds sterling). This was a vast fortune in the early days of the 20th century.

At the beginning of World War I the Holt family owned some 69 steamships. During the period of the hostilities, Blue Funnel vessels carried more than a quarter of a million Empire and United States troops. Sixteen ships were lost including its first turbine engined steamship, the Diomed. After the war the company extended its passenger activities more through luck than corporate policy. In answer to a government appeal to make up the shortage of passenger ships several Blue Funnel cargo vessels were temporarily converted. Although the accommodation was somewhat spartan the service to the Far East was profitable and, because of this, in the early 1920's, four new ships were built for the passenger trade. The Holt family policy had always primarily been the carriage of freight and although the new ships had luxurious cabin accommodation, they were still classified as cargo-liners.

During the 15 years between 1919 and 1934, Lawrence Holt added 28 new steamships to his fleet. Despite a difficult economic climate, the Blue Funnel Line continued to prosper and continued to grow. Lawrence finally retired from the family firm in 1953. As busy as he must have been running his company, Lawrence Holt also found time to involve himself in politics and was even made Mayor of Liverpool at one stage. Shortly after he took delivery of the Duchess in 1937, he added yet another important achievement to his list of accomplishments.

Lawrence Holt invents the term 'Outward Bound'

During World War II, in the North Atlantic, German U boats were sinking British merchant ships and sailors waiting for rescue were fighting frigid waters. Surprisingly, the survival rate among young, presumably more fit sailors was much lower than among older seaman. Lawrence Holt called upon an old friend and well known progressive educator Kurt Hahn (click here for a brief biography of Kurt Hahn - worth reading in itself) to discover the reason for this discrepancy and to rectify it.

Hahn quickly analyzed the problem as a lack of confidence rather than any shortage of skill or equipment. In Aberdovy, Wales, the two men established a program of progressively rugged challenges to help young recruits develop the internal fortitude and confidence necessary to survive harsh physical challenges. Hahn explained that, through achievement, young sailors can learn they possess "far more than they know" and begin to rely upon themselves.

The program was an immediate success. Holt named it "Outward Bound," after the nautical term that refers to the moment a ship leaves the safety of its home port bound for the open ocean.

For those looking to read about the history of our Rolls Royce, we apologise for this brief biographical interlude. That said, given the interesting background of the car's first owner, Lawrence Holt, we felt the story should be told as part of the overall picture. Could the Duchess have been converted into a utility vehicle during Holt's ownership (1937/47)? Perhaps so. I can just imagine it being put into service at the Outward Bound school the shipping magnate established in Aberdovy, Wales in 1941....

To close out this week's research into the Duchess and her family history, we have been following up with people we believe should be able to help us with our stateside investigations. There are basically three people whom we know to have a wealth of useful historical information: Bob Colacello, a Warhol friend and author of "Holy Terror - Andy Warhol", Vincent Fremont, a longtime friend and business associate, and Pat Hackett, another member of the Warhol inner circle who edited the "Andy Warhol Diaries".

With these three names in mind we made contact with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. We learned that the director of the archives section of the museum, a Mr. Matt Warbican, knows Pat Hackett personally and should certainly be able to put us in touch with all three men. The museum said they would be delighted to assist us because of the car's links to Andy Warhol’s life. We hope to report on the fruits of these inquiries next week.

On another topic, but very much Duchess related, we received an email from Bob Dunstan, a CJ customer and regular contributor in the Team CJ Cafe. In a Cafe posting Bob mentions that his mother had been a friend of the late George Holt (Lawrence Holt's brother and his successor at the healm of the Blue Funnel Line) and that he (Bob) had once sat down to dinner with the 'aristocratic' shipping magnate. We are hopeful that Bob's mother will be able to put us in touch with any surviving Holts and Bob has undertaken to follow up on this line of inquiry.

That's about it for now! We feel like we have learned a great deal in just four short weeks and hope you have enjoyed following the story so far.

Update report - February 21, 2003

Research notes - Part 3

We received some excellent news this week!

I talked to Police Constable Tom Roberts again at the Alton Police Station in Hampshire. He had contacted his friend (who lived as a boy in Chawton) and his friend told him that the “old guy” who had lived at Clinkers in the 1960's owned a 'big old shooting brake' that he saw him driving around the village on a number of occasions. He recalled that the old man was known to travel extensively, often going abroad buying up antiques. This may explain the photograph taken in Germany during the late 60's (see Research - Week 2 below).

The policeman's friend thought the old man had moved from Chawton about 1967/68, although he did not know where he moved to. I asked PC Roberts if by any chance he could find out who the estate agents (realtors) were who handled the sale of Clinkers when it became vacant and he promised to do some digging for us. This might lead us to where E.O.C. Thomson went and what the Phantom’s next move was.

Today (2/19/03) was a “red letter” day for us and the Duchess project. Two and a half weeks of research paid off when the mail delivery brought a package from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust in England, who had been helping in our search for documents. We were very excited as we opened up the package to find the Vanden Plas drawings of our Phantom (Body Design # 1379), complete with many of the measurements and dimensions we were looking for. The drawings are excellent reproductions of the originals: clear, precise, and with a lot of detail. As a bonus, the Heritage Trust also included the original sketches made by the Vanden Plas body shop manager at the time the body was built, complete with some of his scribbled comments.

We are thrilled with this material which has put us so much closer to launching the practical side of the project!

VDP shop manager's sketch
Crucial measurements included in
this line drawing
The line drawings, as opposed to black and white photographs that were taken many years ago, show so much more clearly what a wonderful, sleek looking car this Vanden Plas Continental tourer was. Truly it warrants the title of Duchess.

In addition to that package we also received a letter from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in England, who had been researching their reference library for anything on the convertible body built on the Duchess. They told us that they had come up with numerous photographs, which was obviously great news, but best of all they had found the original Vanden Plas worksheet for Body # 3596. This is the work sheet that would have been with the body throughout the time it was being built - and should therefore provide us with a lot of valuable information. This is terrific news! We are quite sure that with this worksheet, together with the body design drawings, we will have almost all the information that we need. Needless to say we have asked the museum send us a copy of the worksheet and photographs right away.

Thinking ahead a little, we thought it would be nice to know what happened to the other seven drophead Phantom III’s, assuming at least some of them still exist. It would be great to speak to the people who own them today. With this in mind we again called upon Mark Tuttle (Phantom III Technical Society) to see if he could help put us in touch. He is hopeful that by cross referencing several PIII lists he has, he should be able to come up with all the relevant information: original owners, the coach builders, where they first went and (if they still exist), who owns them today. Apart from it being interesting to know who owns them now, there could be other benefits in talking with other owners of  PIII convertibles, irrespective of who the original body builders were. We look forward to this information.

Our research in week three has filled us with enthusiasm to get the actual restoration underway. Dan and Lawrence are chomping at the bit to remove all the wood and cut the roof off!

Update report - February 20, 2003

Research notes - Part Two

At the beginning of week two, a telephone call to Mark Tuttle (who presides over the excellent Phantom III Technical Society) in California produced some useful information.

We learned that Lawrence Holt owned the Duchess for 10 years, until 1947. On 8/12/47 ownership passed to a Mr. J.C.Stewart Clark, who in turn appears to have kept the car until 1964. Mr. Stewart Clark was living in Edinburgh, Scotland at the time the vehicle was registered to him.

On 4/14/64 the Duchess was sold to a Mr. E.O.C.Thomson of "Clinkers Antiques, Ltd" in Chawton, Nr. Alton, Hants. Chawton is the home town of the famous author, Jane Austen. More on the Chawton connection later...

Mark Tuttle also informed us that following Mr. Thomson's ownership, a Mr. White appears to have owned the car in 1974. At this stage no further details are available regarding Mr. White's ownership. It would seem logical that Mr. White owned the car after Mr. Thomson and immediately before Andy Warhol. Assuming that to be the case, he could not have owned it for long, as Warhol was known to own the car in the mid seventies.

At this point we have yet to discover when, precisely, the car came to the US. We know from the personal accounts of Tom Hughes, the person from whom we bought the car last year, that the Duchess was owned in New York during the 1970's by the artist Andy Warhol and subsequently by Warhol's long time friend and business associate,  and Tom Hughes' brother, Mr. Fred Hughes. The car passed to Tom Hughes when his brother passed away in 2001.

The following table summarizes the sequence of ownership that we have established thus far:

  • 9/10/37 - Lawrence Holt, Liverpool, England
  • 8/12/47 - J.C. Stewart-Clark - Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 4/14/64 - E.O.C. Thomson - Chawton, Hampshire
  • 1974 - White
  • 1970's - Andy Warhol, New York, NY
  • 1980's - Fred Hughes, New York, NY
  • 2001 - Tom Hughes, Hunt, TX
  • 5/13/02 - Dan Mooney, Austin, TX
  • The Rolls Royce dealer involved in the original order and sale to Lawrence Holt, and more than likely subsequent services carried out immediately after the sale, was W.Watson & Co. The whereabouts of this dealer in 1937 has yet to be established. However, according to the warranty record (which we have in our possession) and RR build sheets sent to us from the RREC, it shows that in May 1939, parts for 3CP134 were supplied to Elliott & Quale. We assume that Elliott & Quale must have been the servicing dealer following W. Watson & Co. This something we will continue to research as we try to piece together the car's service history.

    I received an E-mail from Mark Tuttle who gave me two useful new contacts:

  • Andre Blaize, who maintains a PIII data base
  • John de Campi, author of several books and articles on various models of RR
  • I made enquiries on today concerning E.O.C Thomson and/or Clinkers Antiques and the possibility of either of them still being in Chawton. I drew a blank from UK Directory Enquiries as there were no listings in either name. I did obtain the telephone number for the Alton Post Office which services Chawton. I called them and although they did not know of a E.O.C Thomson or Clinkers Antiques, they did tell me that there was a Clinkers House and a Clinkers Barn that were both in Chawton. One would think that possibly Clinkers House was the residence of E.O.C Thomson, and before the barn was converted to a residence it was the home of Clinkers Antiques. I will pursue this.

    I also called the Alton Police Station and made enquiries there, the person I spoke to could not tell me much, but said that two members of their force were very familiar with Chawton and if I would call back they would try to have more information.

    We received an interesting reply to our email to John de Campi enclosing a photograph of  3CP134 complete with wooden body (in fairly good condition, as far as one can see) standing at a business, apparently in Germany. On the back of the photo, which had been taken by a German photographer, was the following text:

    There have always been car fans that won't do without the Konbivorteile [utilitarian adnvantage], even in the luxury class. Our photo shows a hand built Rolls Royce from the 40's with classic wood and steel body.

    By the way, this "eyecatcher" still does its job reliably today.

    This text obviously raises yet more questions, particulary with regard to the year/time period the Duchess was in Germany. At least we can now safely say that the body was not converted in the USA. Is it therefore English or German? Actually, I believe it is a pretty safe bet that the conversion was done in England or Scotland, probably during the late 40’s.

    In the photograph the car at the side of the Duchess looks to be of the 60's or early 70's period. This German 'twist' could well fit in the period of time between E.O.C Thomson’s ownership in 1964 and it’s arrival in the USA in the early 1970’s. We will continue to investigate this development...

    We have not been able to find anyone with the name of Thomson in Chawton at this time. According to the mail delivery man, Clinkers is now owned by another family who bought it about 8 years ago after it had stood empty and been for sale for quite a long time. The Postmaster is looking into a possible record of forwarding addresses for Clinkers from the Thomson period.

    Police Constable Tom Roberts at Alton had a friend in Chawton as a boy who he used to visit. He remembers an elderly man living at  Clinkers who everybody thought was a little eccentric. Apparently this gentleman used to travel abroad a lot - something which may tie in with out German photograph? The policeman's friend has now moved away but we are going to try to get in touch with him and ask him what he remembers of his time in Chawton during the 1960's.

    I contacted  Barbara Westlake of  the RREC in the UK who was able to tell me that Lawrence Holt did not own another (new) Rolls Royce after the Duchess. She also told me that Elliott & Quale (mentioned in the warranty record, in 1939) would have been a dealer or a service agent authorized to fit the parts supplied under warranty.

    Update report - February 10, 2003

    Research - Part One

    Our first task is to track down Vanden Plas original body design sheet #1379 and body build sheet #3596. If we are to faithfully restore this magnificent car exactly as it was delivered to the first owner, Mr. Lawrence Holt, then these drawings and build sheets will be almost indispensable.

    The early VDP body build sheets appear to have vanished, although we have been told that some were retained by former VDP Managing Director, Roland Fox. After all this time, we are obviously concerned that even these may have been sold, disposed of, or simply lost. Having said that, our first approach to RREC was useful and provided the numbers and addresses of contacts who may be able to point us in the right direction towards coming up with the much needed VDP drawings.

    Our next call was made to the British National Motor Museum at Bealieu in Southern England where the results were a little more encouraging. We were told that their reference library did indeed have a small quantity of the old VDP body design sheets. We gave the librarian all the relevant VDP numbers and details and were told that they would try and turn up that particular design and fax us back, yes or no. If the answer was 'no' they would still try and track the documents down for us.

    The next call was to Tony Beadle of the Society of Automotive Historians of Britain, which was again quite productive. He has undertaken to find out how to get in touch with Brian Smith, who wrote 'Vanden Plas Coachbuilders' and has (or at least did have) access to VDP records. Tony Beadle also gave us two more avenues to pursue. These were: Nick Walker, who wrote British Coachbuilders A to Z with emphasis on pre war design, and Tom Clark, who presented a paper to the Historians Society on pre-war RR coachbuilders in which he made much mention and reference to VDP and Roland Fox. These leads will be followed up. Who knows?

    We next got in touch with Nick Walker (British Coachbuilders A to Z) who told us that the British National Motor Museum at Bealieu did in fact purchase a small quantity of  Vanden Plas drawings when they were disposed of upon the death of Roland Fox. He also told us that the building of “Woody” bodies as conversions on large vehicles (the Duchess certainly qualifies on that score!) was a popular activity between 1945 and 1949. Apparently, many of the original bodies had deteriorated when stored during the war years. With steel being in short supply at that time (for obvious reasons), wood panels were an economical, readily available, alternative. In addition to this, it was becoming fashionable to own a “Woody“ type vehicle. It would appear that a fair number of these conversions were carried out by small coachbuilding shops - with very few being done by recognized RR coachbuilders. Apparently some of these conversions were even made by boat builders! In any event, Nick Walker advised us that had this body been constructed by a well established coachbuilder, it would definitely carry their I.D. plate - which is not the case with the Duchess.

    The most productive of all our calls to England during this first week of my investigations was to Tom Clark, who had presented his paper on British Coachbuilders to the Historians Society. He told us that when Roland Fox died the majority of his VDP drawings were donated to the British Heritage Motor Industry Trust at Gaydon, Warwickshire. There were, however, a few that were sold at auction by surviving relatives, and these were the ones apparently bought by the National Motor Museum at Bealieu. Tom then gave us all the pertinent names and numbers to get in touch with the Heritage Trust. We then telephoned Stephen Laing, one of the directors of the Heritage Trust, who said that he was sure the drawing we were looking for would be in their archives. Very encouraging! He suggested we contact their archivist, Gillian Bardsley, by fax. Needless to say, we immediately sent a fax  to the archivist giving her all the details: chassis, body and design numbers, etc, and we now await her reply.

    Incidentally, we also sent a letter to the Vehicle Licensing Records Office in Swansea, requesting a list of the names and addresses of people who owned the Duchess between the original owner Mr Holt and the time it left the UK for the American shores. At this time we still have a period of about thirty years to account for! If we can track down these owners we might well find who the wooden body was fitted for, and why.

    December 26, 2002

    Truly inspirational photographs of a PII Continental parked in a spot we hope to occupy at the Pebble Beach golf course in about 4 years time!

    The magnificent woodwork was done by Rau Autowood of Los Angeles, California. Thanks to Bob Bailey for supplying the pictures.


    December 21, 2002

    A full restoration back to the original DHC specs will commence February, 2003.

    I am grateful to Steve Stuckey for providing the following photograph and additional information regarding my Phantom III.

    Steve wrote:

    Further to your two questions: there were only 3 Vanden Plas bodies on Phantom IIIs, a cabriolet on 3BT185, your 3CP134 and a limousine on 3CM53. (There was also one body made by the Belgian Van Den Plas coachbuilder). Interestingly, two of the three English Vanden Plas bodies went firstly to Austria (yours went to Liverpool in England!).

    In the total Phantom III production of 727 chassis there were 8 drophead coupes, 7 drophead sedanca coupes (where they had three positions - closed, open above the driver's compartment and totally open), 15 cabriolets (open cars with four doors and a division) and 7 tourers (open cars with four doors and no division).

    All this and more is available in the fascinating book on Phantom IIs and Phantom IIIs published last year and authored by Nick Whitaker (Phantom II bit) and Steve Stuckey (Phantom III bit) with a great chapter by Mark Tuttle on buying a PIII. Mark Tuttle probably has a copy the Technical Society can sell you!

    Steve tells me that this is the Vanden Plas photograph and the images I acredited 
    to the coachbuilder below were in fact taken by the London dealer, Jack Barclay.

    Report date - May 14, 2002

    Happy new owner!
    Lots of leg and headroom.
    A flat tyre is causing the pronounced lead - 
    not your scribe's modest body weight
    Lots of tools - spanners are 
    engraved ROLLS ROYCE
    Sam removes the continental spare
    These items hold the spare in place
    on the side of the right wing
    Original fire extinguisher 
    lurks behind spare..
    Enzo Ferrari must have seen this and copied
    it in later years!
    Reclining seats are a hint to the car's 2 door
    convertible past
    Phantom III dwarfs Mercedes Gullwing
    I believe these horns are original
     Fire extinguisher behind spare
    Last on the road in 1977?

    This ancient package will be the
    subject of a little detective work

    Post Script - May 13, 2002
    Well, the excitement just keeps coming with this car! We just found out that it started life a gorgeous Vanden Plas Drop Head Coupe and the following photographs are (poor) copies of the photographs the coach builder took when the car was first built in 1937.

    The question is, shall we restore the car to the current shooting brake specs, as Andy Warhol enjoyed it, or in the vastly more attractive DHC body it was born with? Carefully examining the existing body panels I can see that a great deal of the original form has been retained...albeit disguised. Reverting back to the 2 door DHC body would not be that difficult to do.

    3CP134 as she is today...literally 5/13/02

    Coachbuilder's photograph - 1937
    With the convertible top lowered

    Update report - May 13, 2002

    This is perhaps the most amazing car I have ever owned.

    As you can see in the photographs below, at some time this magnificent Rolls Royce Phantom III was converted to shooting brake (or woody) specifications. I purchased the car from the estate of Freddy Hughes, right hand man to Andy Warhol for 25 years before the famous artist's death in 1987. Mr Hughes passed away himself after a long illness in 2001.

    Warhol apparently bought the Rolls (already converted to shooting brake body) in the late 60s or very early 70s and the car was last on the road in 1977. Amazingly enough we actually found a dog collar and lead, which we believe belonged to Warhol's beloved Dachshund 'Maurice', under one of the rear seats.

    This amazing Rolls Royce is a wonderful mix of classic automotive history meets pop art....meets Dan Mooney. I love this car! The world's biggest picnic hamper.

    If it looks massive....
    it's because it is massive....
    6,500 lbs of picnic hamper.....
    Gorgeous wood on dash and stunning
    art deco gauges
    I am going to have to learn to drive
    all over again........
    Massive 7,338cc V 12 good for
    100 MPH
    Engine bay vent doors....
    The tradesman's entrance

    Return to Our Cars - The Team CJ Fleet