Phantom II restoration

Phantom II restoration

#12 of 40


The semaphore indicator system before...


Interior woodwork

Interior trim

The engine

One of the things which gives us great pleasure at Fiennes is the privilege of working on cars which are unique; not every classic motorcar can lay claim to having one-of-a-kind coachwork, or provenance associated with celebrity, nobility or notoriety, yet every car has its own combination of ownership, engineering and history.

We think this Phantom II is a good example of one of those special cars. It was built in 1932 for the London Motor Show; a special light-weight saloon bodied by Hooper, with a number of interesting features about it, the most obvious being its directional indicators. These indicators use the semaphore system, as introduced by the Navy. This was unusual in any car in 1932 – and unlike later electrically operated systems these are operated by a vacuum generated within the inlet manifold. They appear to be unique to Hooper coachwork.

We had a few original parts to work with, sufficient to enable us to reverse-engineer and reproduce the missing parts of the mechanism. Although only a small part of the overall restoration of the car it was very satisfying to be able complete this level of detail.

More broadly, when the car came to us it had been partially restored elsewhere. Unfortunately the work done up to that point had been poorly executed. For example, the special light-weight body relies extensively on steel brackets to reinforce the timber frame. Many of these were missing resulting in a very unstable structure. Sadly we frequently see this quality of restorative effort, and whilst possibly well-intentioned it leads to extensive problems down the line. In this case we had to remove the body skin from the rear of the car, reshape or replace timber frame members as required and recreate and replace the missing steel brackets, before re-panelling the rear.

We also made a new front wing and extensively reshaped the other, and almost the entire car was repaneled. We then repainted the coachwork and retrimmed it throughout.

From a mechanical perspective there was also a significant amount of work.. The gearbox was overhauled, including the manufacture of new gears, and new blocks fitted to the engine. Extensive work was done on the brakes and suspension, together with the chassis lubrication system. In addition the car had to be completely rewired.

After many months of painstaking work, we’re delighted that the car is now of Concours standard and being very much enjoyed by her owner.

If you have come across any other examples of Phantoms or others with these vacuum-driven indicators we’d love to hear from you – email us on to share.