During World War I, the little British car company called Rolls-Royce, had proved the merit of its vehicles on an international scale. The Royal Navy successfully campaigned a squadron of armored Silver Ghosts from England to Africa. All who threatened the Queen’s realm were swiftly dispatched by the Roller’s massive machine gun, as the firm’s famed Spirit of Ecstasy suddenly became the Spirit of Freedom.
Once the war was over, the company had lots of orders to fill. Rolls-Royce typically produced just the engine and chassis, leaving the customer’s coach builder to do the rest. The firm’s reputation for building cars that could tackle any terrain, had spawned many orders for hunting and expedition vehicles. Buyers in India, Africa and the Middle East would often spec their Rolls-Royce’s for hunting big game like lions and elephants. These owners usually owned large chunks of ‘map’, so these cars had to be equipped to handle anything from charging rhinos to a peasant uprising. “Could we interest your highness in a bumper-mounted Cannon?”
1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I “Tiger Car”
In 1925, the Maharaja of Kotah Umed Singh II commissioned the London coach builder Barker & Co. to build a hunting car for him to use on his vast North Indian estate. Based on the 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, the Maharaja’s lavish expedition car rode atop a raised chassis for additional ground clearance, and it was fitted with an 8-liter inline-6, mated to a 4-speed gearbox with special low-gearing to help the massive car get through rough terrain.
Originally finished in medium gray, the Torpedo Phaeton body received a number of bespoke features like a nickel-plated snake horn on the front fender, copper-mesh curtains, huge front & rear spotlights (for shinin’), an ammo box and cooler mounted to the right running board, and oh yes, a Lantaka Cannon mounted on the rear bumper (for hunting elephants…and small armies).
The inside was upholstered in black crocodile hides, and to guard passengers from a charging Rhino, or tank, a large caliber (see: Hand-held shotgun) Howdah Gun sat atop the front/rear divider. That divider also served as a gun rack, and a special Chubb safe was built into the front passenger compartment. During these big game hunting expeditions, servants/assistants would go ahead of the motorcade trying to stir up large animals for the hunting party to shoot at. Occasionally, these poor fools became tiger-treats, and the safe held enough cash to pay their families the equivalent of a year’s worth of rice. And speaking of tigers, this 1925 Rolls-Royce also came towing a .450 caliber Bira hand-crank machine gun for hunting tigers…and light aircraft.
Maharaja of Rewa – 1929 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Phantom II Hunting Car & 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Barker Boattail Hunting Car
The Maharaja of Rewa was another avid hunter and Rolls-Royce owner. Naturally, he had a few of his Rollers outfitted for the hunt, but he didn’t go for the optional Small Army Delete package like the Maharaja of Kotah. Instead, his 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I started life as a formal sedan, then roof was removed and gun racks were added in the late-30’s. We assume he only went for small game.
Never one to miss a hunting opportunity, the Maharaja had his 1930 Barker Boattail fitted with a special gun compartment. Beneath the wood-topped boattail was a rack to hold 3 shot guns, that way he could stop and shoot somethin’ on his way to town.
Rolls-Royce Silver Spur Rabbit Hunting Car
Yes, only in Texas would somebody dream of outfitting a Rolls with off-road tires and woodgrain applique. We don’t know a lot about this Texas Huntin’ Buggy, but we definitely think they should’ve added a cannon or two.
1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Barker Boattail Hunting Car
Maharaja didn’t want to waste time traversing his 23,000 sq-mi estate, so he commissioned Barker & Co. to build him a lightweight boattail speedster. This 3-seat hunting car had a special suspension, a 108-hp straight-6, running board-mounted gun racks, and the running boards themselves were actually teardrop shaped ammo boxes. With considerable power under the woodgrained bonnet, and considerable fire-power latched to the running board, this Maharaja could either shoot his prey, or outrun it.