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The extraordinary Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe may rise again

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December 18, 2012

The new Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe ll concept by Ugur Sahin Design

The new Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe ll concept by Ugur Sahin Design

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One of the highlights of the Windsor Concurs d’Elegance that we featured here a few months ago was the extraordinary 1924/35 Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe, now owned by the Petersen Museum in California. Jonckheere, the original coachbuilders, are still in business. Although they now specialize in bus and coach bodies, they have commissioned Turkish designer Ugur Sahin to create a modern interpretation of the original hand-built one-off. The “Round Door Rolls” might live again.

“For us, the original car represents the timeless aspects of automotive art and its impact it can have on a person even after 77 years. The new design was carefully put together with a very crucial thing in mind; 'Respect,'” Ugar Sahin said. “It is challenging to re-interpret something from that past which has a very imposing and impressive character like the original car, into a modern shape without losing its core essence. Many things like the proportions and lines, the impression some shapes give, are very essential to re-capture in the new design. While keeping the past DNA, injecting modern design elements which are in coherence with the past, is always a challenging task for every designer.”

The original 1925/1935 Rolls Royce Phantom l Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe

The original 1925/1935 Rolls Royce Phantom l Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe

The story of the original car is fascinating. The 1924 Rolls Royce Phantom l with a convertible body by Hooper was commissioned by an American lady from Detroit. The car never got to the States however, and was subsequently purchased by the Raja of Nanpara, an Indian regional potentate under British rule. It’s at this point that the vehicle was sent to the Jonckheere brothers in Belgium for its new hand-crafted body. Some reports suggest it was intended as a present for Prince Edward, but all records from the factory were lost in the war and it is not even known who originally penned the fantastic Art Deco body shape.

The car was fitted with a 6-cylinder, 7.66L OHV inline six engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The body was completely hand fabricated to include round doors, split-opening half-moon windows, twin sunroofs, bespoke luggage and a stabilizing fin at the rear. All told, the luxurious automobile was quiet enough to hold a conversation at speed and would easily travel at 100 mph (161 km/h).

The vehicle changed hands many times in the 40s and 50s until it ended up with American Max Opie, who restored it and painted it with six pounds of gold dust and lacquer. After life as a traveling sideshow, it disappeared until 1991 when it was purchased by a Japanese gentleman for US$1.5 million. In 2004 it was purchased by the Petersen Museum and restored to its first incarnation of black gloss exterior and red leather interior. The vehicle is a popular attraction at Palm Beach and other classic car concours events, but in a cruel twist is unfortunately not eligible for the top prizes at these gatherings as the original records are lost.

The new Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe ll concept by Ugur Sahin Design

The new Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe ll concept by Ugur Sahin Design

“We set out to design a car that reflects a complex character which impresses its surroundings without having to depend on too complicated elements and unnecessary additions,” Ugar concludes. “In some way this certain quality might reflect its owner as well.”

Sources: Ugur Sahin Design, Petersen Automotive Museum

About the Author
Vincent Rice Vincent Rice has been an audio-visual design consultant for almost 30 years including six years with Warner Brothers Cinemas. He has designed several large retail installations in London and a dozen major nightclubs across the world from Belfast to Brno to Beruit. An accomplished musician and 3D computer graphics artist, Vince also writes for AV Magazine in the U.K. and the Loudscreen digital signage blog.   All articles by Vincent Rice
9 Comments

It’s at this point that the vehicle was sent to the Jonckheere brothers in Belgium for its new hand-crafted body. Some reports suggest it was intended as a present for Prince Edward, but all records from the factory were lost in the war and it is not even known who originally penned the fantastic Art Deco body shape.

eyelash enhancer
19th December, 2012 @ 02:14 am PST

"Extraordinary" barely scratches the surface of superlatives for this design effort. My one qualm is the little white lights by the headlights. Still, it does take my breath away.

Bruce H. Anderson
19th December, 2012 @ 08:38 am PST

While the first was cool, it wasn't very aero. But the new version is very cool!! And actually aero.

If RR was smart they should buld this or something like it to jazz up their rather stale line they have had for yrs.

jerryd
19th December, 2012 @ 09:09 am PST

I agree about the little LED lights: makes it look like Miss Piggy's pearl necklace.

moreover
19th December, 2012 @ 10:42 am PST

Couldn't help smiling at the caption to Image 33 : «The new Rolls Royce Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe ll concept in front of your house»....

Henri

mhenriday
19th December, 2012 @ 10:45 am PST

I love how well the design is a faithful evolution of the original. I have a single critique - the paint scheme. In the concept's current color highlighting the hood and sculpted edges, I expect the members of ZZ Top to emerge at any second. This car should also be solid black except the wheels, grill, and necessary bits. Other that that, well done!

Vince Pack
19th December, 2012 @ 12:11 pm PST

An achingly beautiful car- surely one of the most beautiful cars of all time.

I'd love a replica of the original if I had the money...

bergamot69
19th December, 2012 @ 12:55 pm PST

I have to say the reproduction is not half as dramatic as the original. I think they went too far toward the aerodynamic and lost too much of the cars character.

David G. Cole
19th December, 2012 @ 11:20 pm PST

When all's said and done, this homage is no more than a gargantuan New Mini or PT Cruiser, and for much the same reason, despite the stratospheric money: There are fewer and fewer people able to appreciate the charm of owning an original survivor, whether a well-maintained largely unmolested car, or faithful restoration of a real car from the day. That, and too many people expect even the finest Classic cars of 70 to 80 years ago, in the best mechanical condition, to be able to perform like a new Camry, Accord or Taurus; idling without complaint in overpopulated 21st Century traffic, subjected to the halting lock step of "freeway" concrete conveyor belt.

And there are fewer and fewer men with the savvy to work on the original cars, while there are still plenty of paint shops, upholsterers, plating shops. So you wind up with a lot of unhappy rich guys with their useless high-point restorations.

The "answer" to the above conundrum, for those with more money than soul, is to buy something like the ridiculous redux above, which is neither fish nor fowl. This sadness is the legacy of our "having it all" mindset, as surely as cupholders in everything on wheels.

David Cole above is right as rain.

Water Jacket
24th December, 2012 @ 02:18 pm PST
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