Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Phantom Barker Torpedo Tourer
At the time when India was still a British colony, Maharajas and other Indian rulers were regular customers of Rolls-Royce. The Nawab (prime minister) of Hyderabad, Wali-ud-Dowla, placed an order for a new Phantom I with Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd. of Bombay at the end of 1925.
Barker, Rolls-Royce’s favourite coachbuilder, was commissioned to build the bodywork. The Phantom is finished in polished aluminium and soon became known as ‘The Silver Phantom of Hyderabad’. The door panels are made of polished teak, and there are two veneered folding tables in the rear compartment as well as a teak cabinet holding a camera, binoculars and water bottles.
The car was used regularly for carrying visiting members of the British Royal Family, including the Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII. According to the descendants of the Nawab, the car brought good luck, and was consequently used to carry over a hundred brides to their weddings. The car was in service until 1953 but remained in family ownership, simply gathering dust in the Nawab’s garage.
The Phantom aroused the interest of the English car enthusiast William Meredith-Owen in the 1960s. The Nawab’s family indicated they might be interested in selling the car, but Meredith-Owen first had to gain the family’s trust and friendship. It took some two hundred pages of correspondence before the Rolls-Royce was returned to England and fully restored.