Arizona

18-19 January 2018

1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Pillarless Saloon by Vesters et Neirinck

  • Chassis no. 3CP144
  • Engine no. T48J

  • The 1938 Brussels Motor Show car
  • Exceptional one-off bodywork; among the sportiest Phantom IIIs produced
  • Numerous Best in Class appearances
  • Interesting history; formerly owned by G. Gordon Liddy and Charles Nelson Reilly
  • Offered with sets of road and hand tools
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic


Brussels coachbuilders Vester et Neirinck produced some of the finest and most interesting designs to come out of Belgium during the Classic Era. They were particularly proud of their close relationship with Rolls-Royce and Bentley, courtesy of local dealer Andre Pisart, who would often forward clients to the nearby shop, and who spurred some of Vesters et Neirinck’s most remarkable creations into being.

One of them was this stunning Phantom III, built on chassis no. 3CP144, special-ordered with such unique features as a speedometer calibrated in kilometers, a petrol gauge in liters, and a pulley drive-type Smiths tachometer – the latter only one fitted to a Phantom III by the factory. Inspired by the French stylings of Letourneur et Marchand, the body was a two-door saloon or sedan with no center B-pillar; instead, the roofline and windows move in a smooth, uninterrupted, comet-like curve from front to rear, accentuated by an aluminum molding that runs to just above the rear wheel arches. The hood was extended to the firewall by means of additional louvers, visually lengthening an already powerful nose. Special rear bumpers and six Ace Deluxe wheel discs balanced the design.

The car was exhibited on Vesters et Neirinck’s stand at the Brussels Motor Show of 1938. Afterward, it was delivered on 7 May 1938 to its first owner, Jean Francqui.

Longstanding rumor places the Phantom III at the wartime disposal of both the King of Belgium and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery; in any case, it was certainly acquired by occupational forces, the British Army of the Rhine, in 1945, and used by General Sir Charles F. Keightley. In 1958 it was sold to a German civilian, a Mr. Derriks, then made its way to the U.S. in the late 1960s and enjoyed several enthusiast owners on both coasts.

The car’s more recent ownership history is no less fascinating. In the mid-1980s, it was purchased by Watergate burglar turned political commentator, G. Gordon Liddy, who licensed it in Arizona as “H20 GATE” – “just my way of saying ‘Hi’ to the liberals,” as he commented to People magazine. In what must have been a fascinating transaction to behold, Mr. Liddy eventually sold the car late in the decade to Charles Nelson Reilly, the popular American comedic actor, known for his ubiquitous game and talk show appearances in the 1970s.

Having remained largely original and remarkably complete, the Phantom III was restored for its next owner, Douglas McCorkindale, by marque specialists between 1992 and 1994, and at that time was finished in its beautiful Prussian Blue and medium blue color scheme, with a handsome grey leather interior accentuated by polished walnut veneers. It was shown at some of the most prestigious concours events in the U.S., winning 1st in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, both in 1995.

Part of its current owner’s collection for two decades, this striking Phantom III is offered today with its original sets of road and hand tools, as well as the aforementioned Rolls-Royce build documentation. Inarguably one of the sportiest designs ever produced on this robust and powerful chassis, it awaits future concours appearances and will most certainly draw a crowd wherever it goes. That was Monsieur Pisart’s intention, after all.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more