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My 1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III

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    The 1938 Phantom III Martin Glynn bought at a deceased estate auction in Sydney originally cost less than $5000. Photo Gallery

AS a child growing up in Galway, Ireland, Martin Glynn used to slide down the long, flowing fenders on the local vet's Rolls-Royce for fun.

"I always thought I'd like one of those cars one fine day," he says.  So when he went into semi-retirement about 15 years ago, he sought out an early model Roller just like the Galway vet's. 

The 1938 Phantom III he bought at a deceased estate auction in Sydney originally cost less than $5000. Glynn paid $84,000, restored it to its original condition and it's now worth over $500,000.  "I don't think I'll ever sell it. It's part of the family," he says.  Phoebe the Phantom, as he calls it, comes with quite a history.

The chassis was built in Crewe and the Sedanca de Ville town car coach was built by H.J. Mulliner in London.  It was a demo model for seven months before being bought by a French woman and shipped to Quebec.

She died in 1952 and it was taken to a New York caryard until 1967 when it was bought for about $1200 by a London undertaker who returned it to Old Blighty.  The body was modified to add another row of seats so it could be used as a mourning car.

Just two years later a Sydney solicitor bought it and drove it around London for a couple of years before shipping it out the colonies.  In 1975, a Sydney Volvo dealer swapped a new Volvo for the relic which was then in need of substantial restoration.

The dealer restored the engine, but little else until Glynn came along and bought it.  Glynn smiles as he fires up the Roller's big black 7340cc twin-spark V12 engine and it purrs into life.

"It's true what they say about it being so quiet inside the only thing you can hear is the clock,' he says.  "Sometimes you can hold the starter on for too long because you can't hear or feel when the engine has started.

"But it can sit in the garage for three months without running and it starts first time."  The big 2630kg beast has 160 horsepower that will roll it up to 100km/h in 16.5 seconds and out to a top speed of 150km/h while guzzling fuel at 23.5L/100km.

Mechanical highlights are a Bijur auto lubricating system with "miles" of copper tubing, hydraulic auto jacks, three-speed auto and four drum brakes.  Only 727 of these were made and they have been owned by lords, ladies, princes, maharajahs, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery.

But as each model is purpose built to owner specifications, no two models are the same.  Glynn's features the extra seats, a cocktail cabinet, a rear picnic table, pull-out tool kit, one-way intercom from passenger to chauffeur and, as his wife, Ann, points out, an electrically controlled silk privacy screen.

"There's plenty of room to do whatever you like in the back," she says.  Their other pride and joy is a 1960 Bentley Continental Flying Spur with a coach also made by Mulliner.

It was originally owned by Hammer Films managing director Lt Col J. Carreras.  Only 70 were ever made and Glynn believes there are only six in Australia.

He bought it for $60,000 from a Hong Kong doctor when the British colony was handed back to the Chinese in 2000.  "The doctor sold it because of the ill feeling toward the British at the time," he says.

"But look at Hong Kong now and there are Rolls-Royces and Bentleys everywhere."  Glynn believes the V8 Spur is now worth about $200,000.

"I won"t sell either of them. We've had them in the family a long time and every time I sit it them I feel good," he says.

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