Tote About Tokyo in a Rolls-Royce Phantom

This post may strike as misplaced as it has nothing to do with food or booze or Internet or Japan but, as the yen is weak, it may serve as interest to those planning a Tokyo visit and feel like splurging. 

Last week an acquaintance was in town and he picked me up in a chauffeured Phantom for dinner. A little excessive? Perhaps. But he was on holiday so “douchebaggery is accepted” he said, when I wondered out loud to him: “WHY???

A little known fact is that The Peninsula Hotel chain offers chauffeur services at almost all of their locations. The hotel shuttles guests to and from the airport or around town. Of course the service is complimentary if you stay in a suite.

With 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms, The Peninsula Hotel in Macau owns the largest fleet. Compared to Macau, The Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo is like the red-headed step child with only a few bespoke Rolls-Royce Extended Wheelbase Phantoms, BMW 740i sedans and a Tesla Model S.

But, what The Peninsula Tokyo does have is a 1934 vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom II. After the driver of my acquaintance’s vehicle briefly touched on this information, I thanked him for his candor, left it at that and called the hotel to confirm the next day. I didn’t want to leave my dinner date out of the conversation — the driver and I were speaking in rapid Japanese. The lady at the transportation desk informed me they do indeed have a vintage Rolls-Royce. Sadly, she didn’t have (or couldn’t disclose?) details of the vehicle.

For all things cars I turn to my brother for help (he’s in the business) and together we googled images, compared and contrasted search results of 1934 Phantom IIs to the photo of the Phantom II on the hotel website. We picked apart headlights, grills, wheelbases, drop tops, and concluded The Peninsula Tokyo’s vintage PII is either a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sedanca Build Coupe, Gurney Nutting or  the 20/25 Barker Sedanca (We can’t tell if it’s a full convertible or if the drop top covers just the driver’s side. My brother said he’s 99% sure it’s driver part only but there’s a 1% chance it is not.)

Unlike modern day cars, pre-war luxury cars were sold very differently. Car makers made and sold certain parts of the car and had specialist makers called coachbuilders custom design and build other parts. In the case of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II, the chassis (framework) and mechanical parts (engine, etc.) were made and sold to customers by Rolls. The new owners then contracted coachbuilders to build and fit the body. There are several well known coachbuilders like H.J. Mulliner, Sedanca, Figoni et Falaschi and my brother’s favorite: Saoutchik “because they’re so crazy” he says. This is the reason pre-war cars have ultra long names, like The Peninsula Hotel Tokyo’s Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sedanca Build Coupe, Gurney Nutting or  1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II 20/25 Barker Sedanca phew.

Aside from the various builds, the levels of customization is so deep, I thought it would be near impossible to pin down exactly what the car is from the hotel’s photo but I think we nailed this one. (Thanks brother with zero online presence!!)

Sadly, guests purchasing the wedding package are the only ones who have access to the vintage Phantom II but apparently, the hotel sometimes displays it. The lady at the hotel’s transportation desk mumbled displaying the prized car is dependent on the weather.

Personally, I much prefer the 1960 Mercedes limo offered by the Amansara hotel in Cambodia. How cool is this car?!

At any rate, if you are planning a trip to Tokyo, feeling a bit exuberant, The Peninsula Tokyo has a few modern Rolls-Royce Phantoms (I didn’t ask for the years, I felt as though I was pestering with too many questions about the vintage model), BMW 740i-s, and Tesla Model Ss to tote you about town. Why not experience rolling through Tokyo ballin’ while the yen is, well, shit.

Crass end to a classy post; I strategically misbehave 😉

The Peninsula Hotel Tokyo
transportation service information (English) ↓


Bonus: for car nerds, my brother and I ended up chatting about cars for hours. The funniest one he showed me was this one ↓

My immediate response: It looks like a piece of maguro!  (Tuna). Apparently this car is massive, longer than an airport shuttle van — he’s seen the actual one on display at the Blackhawk Classic Car museum — and to entertain my ignorance, even called it a ‘ginormous maguro’. Siblings are the best.

Still, even if I poked fun at a handsome vehicle and called it a piece of sushi, it is such a stunning car. I look at these classics and can’t help but think, what a time to live! So glamorous and old Hollywood. Sometimes I day dream of life in that era and how I would give anything to transport back in time for a day. Then I remember that Asians in America back in those days were railroad workers and farmers and just like that, I am catapulted back to reality, grateful to live in modern times.

Amazing how quickly the world has progressed in such a short period of time, isn’t it?