RREC Central Southern Section


1936 RR Phantom III.
Fred Fruth of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Ted Meachem, RREC Central Southern Section Secretary,
and proud owner pose beside 3AX65 at the entrance to the new Rolls-Royce manufacturing
facility at Goodwood. The New Phantom at this stage has vanished as, of course, phantoms do.

Last Thursday week, 10 July, Ted Meachem took a phone call from Fred Fruth at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, asking if, at very short notice, they could borrow his 20/25 to put on display with the New Phantom outside the newly-created entrance to their manufacturing facility at Goodwood over the up-coming Goodwood Festival of Speed weekend. Ted was, needless to say, happy to oblige, but asked if they would not prefer an 'old' Phantom, which he thought would be more appropriate. This was prompted by the fact that Ted is currently providing space in his motor house for my 1936 Phantom III, 3AX65. Fred said "Yes, please"; Ted phoned me; I said "Yes, please"; Ted said he would drive the car down to Goodwood on the Friday; I said I would pick her up on the Sunday evening; Rolls-Royce, in the form of Fred Fruth and security guards, were to take care of her in between, outside the manufacturing plant during the day, and inside at night.

I was thrilled at the prospect of what could only be regarded as a great honour, and most grateful to Ted both for his generosity in suggesting it and for his courageousness in making the occasion possible by driving the Phantom III to Goodwood on the Friday, when I was otherwise occupied. Ted had never driven the car before or, as far as I know, any other PIII and, mine being a limousine, the space provided for the driver is not that generous. So this was quite an undertaking.

Accordingly, lengthy and detailed instructions were given over the phone for starting the car from cold, and from hot, which Ted would then have to pass to Fred Fruth, who similarly had not had previous experience of a PIII. These arrangements apparently worked well, except that I had not explained what to do when the engine was neither cold nor hot! Ted also provided a brief history of the car, including the fact that she had previously been in German care from 1940 to 1944!

On the Saturday I happened to have arranged to have lunch with friends who live in Chichester, and so could not resist the urge to go and see 3AX65 on show. Sure enough, as I drove up to the mini-roundabout outside the Rolls-Royce plant, and on the route from the A27 to the Goodwood Festival, there was the PIII parked proudly on one side of the main entrance to the plant, with a New Phantom on the other. I managed to drive three times round the roundabout before the alert security guards started to take an interest in my odd antics, so I then forewent any further gawping at this, for me, highly memorable scene. By the time Ted and I returned on the Sunday evening, the Goodwood Phantom was unfortunately already on its way back into the plant. However, this did mean that it was possible to take photographs of the PIII not only on the spot she had occupied during the weekend, but also in front of the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sign now set up at the factory entrance, with Ted, Fred and proud owner standing by the car.

I bought 3AX65 twenty-five years ago today, as I write this on 18 July 2003. The Phantom Weekend could not have been a more fitting or more welcome anniversary present. Many, many thanks to Ted and Fred for arranging it and, of course, to 3AX65 for being one of the worthy Phantom predecessors of her illustrious Phantom successor.

Martin Coomber