The Rolls-Royce Phantom III was the final large pre-war
Rolls-Royce. Introduced in 1936, it replaced the Phantom II and was
an entirely different car with its V12 engine, 120 horsepower and
727 V12 Phantom III chassis were built between 1936 and 1939, with
130 delivered to members of the British Royal Family. It was the
only V12 Rolls-Royce until the Silver Seraph was introduced in
1998. The Phantom III was the last car that Henry Royce worked
on-he died a year into its development.
The PIII is powered by an aluminum-alloy V12 engine of 447 cubic
inches, having a bore of 3.25 inches and a stroke of 4.5 inches. It
is a pushrod engine with overhead valves operated by a single
camshaft. Early cars had hydraulic tappets, replaced by solid
adjustable tappets in 1938. The PIII is unusual for its twin
ignition systems, with two distributors, two coils and 24 spark
plugs. Wire wheels are fitted as standard, but many cars carry Ace
wheel discs which were fitted improve cosmetics.
The car started life in 1937 with a Barker Sedancalette body when
sold new to Lady Elizabeth Snaggle of Waterside House in Hampshire,
England. Sometime prior to the 1970's (most likely done by Mulliner
in the 1950's) the body was modified to an owner-driver sport sedan
with a low windshield, helmet front fenders and step-plate running
boards. The body number 7135 is stamped on the back of the dash,
door caps, floorboards, hinges and most of the wood veneers,
including the instrument fascia. Please refer to the attached
letter by Steve Stuckey, THE preeminent PIII authority.
Around 1940, it was sold to K.G. Jackman, of Grove Park, London,
who kept the car until 1977.
The car was then acquired by John Gabiati, of Northern California.
In 1981 he gave the car to his son, Ernie Gabiati, a car collector
in Lafayette, California, who kept it in his collection for over 25
years. He drove it on the Al McEwen/Pebble Beach Motoring Classic
from Kirkland, Washington to Monterey, California, over 2000 miles
roundtrip, without any mechanical issues. This reflects the
$125,000 he spent on a complete mechanical overhaul, including
rebuilding the engine. This work is fully documented with receipts
from the famous Acme Garage in Hayward, California, and John
LittIe, eminent Rolls-Royce Phantom III expert, in collaboration
with Cincol Engineering, in England. It is not known by whom or
when the cosmetic restoration was done, but the car remains in
It was later sold to Jim and Washington State Senator Rosemary
McAuliffe, who drove it on a regular basis.
Many Phantom III's were not handsome, but bulky, stodgy limousines.
Few have coachwork as stylish and alluring as 3AZ218.
Note: The last few photos show a comparison of our car's original
iteration with how it looks today after the much needed re-styling,
as well as a very similar Barker bodied PIII.