Class Sponsor

Year: 1965

Manufacturer: Rolls-Royce

Model: PHANTOM V, SEVEN-PASSENGER TOURING LIMOUSINE BY H.J. MULLINER PARK WARD

Engine Number: E7PV

Chassis Number: 5VE15

Country: United Kingdom

Owner(s):
Private Collection

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1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V, Seven-Passenger Touring Limousine by H.J. Mulliner Park Ward

The Phantom V was the penultimate model of the golden age of coach-building, when skillfully handcrafted bespoke bodies adorned some of the most coveted engines of the time. Imposing yet simple, the Phantom V was an embodiment of post-war luxury and the much-revered mechanical prowess of Rolls-Royce. Powered by an eight-cylinder, 6.2 litre engine, Phantom Vs were the preserve of the high & mighty that ranged from royalty to rock stars.

An integral feature of ceremonies and state occasions, the Phantom V was the epitome of power and performance. It was the most expensive car of the time, and was the preferred model of the famous and elite. Between 1959-1968, a total of 832 Phantom Vs were hand-built, and its owners included John Lennon of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Emir of Qatar and King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia.

In 2018, which was marked as the ‘Year of Zayed’, Abu Dhabi based author & motoring historian Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan was researching for his book ‘Automobiles of Sheikh Zayed’. While flipping through the pages of ‘Memoirs of the Emirates’ published by the National Archives of UAE, on page 333, he stumbled on an Eastman colour photograph showing the unloading of a classic Rolls-Royce on an Arabian shore. This chance sighting of a fascinating photo of a Phantom V, the only one supplied to UAE, which was a right-hand drive, seven-seater enclosed limousine, triggered his mission to find the car which turned out to be historically the most important motor car for UAE.

Through archival research and with help from friends & marque experts he managed to identify and track down the car surviving in a remote part of Austria. Remarkably so, he also managed to persuade its owner to sell the historic car. He then flew down to Vienna to inspect his muse up-close, and finally test-drove the car on  19 February 2019. Euphorically jetting between Europe and the Gulf, he pieced together the long-unresolved puzzle, by compiling its history and tracing its footprints in UK, France, Holland & Austria. Thus was accomplished his mission to discover & repatriate Abu Dhabi’s long-lost first state motor car. It is the subject of a book being compiled by him titled ‘Sheikh Zayed’s Rolls-Royce 5VE15’. A video documentary is also in the making.

Following its acquisition, the Abu Dhabi Phantom was transported from Austria to England by road loaded on to a truck. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic stalled its restoration just when it was about to commence. Its engine is in good order having been fully rebuilt by the previous owner in Austria. Its present Fiat Red colour is fresh, although it has been re-sprayed  a few times in the past, including black. Its red leather upholstery is in excellent condition and the instrumentation is fully functional and the windows & division can be electrically operated. However, as the curator of the car, its discoverer aims to return it to its original livery, with plans to revert to its original colour scheme of Valentine black with fine gold lines and the upholstery back to tan leather and beige cloth, as was delivered new. Magnetic flag poles, Abu Dhabi flags and show plates have been added since. The missing sill mouldings are to be sourced in due course. Once readied, he plans to showcase this historic car at the much-awaited world’s fair in Dubai, the EXPO2020, so that visitors from around the world can see firsthand this automotive heirloom and motoring heritage of UAE. He is also planning to display it in Abu Dhabi in 2021, when the United Arab Emirates celebrates its golden jubilee.

After the 1965 London Motor Show at Earl’s Court, this car, with Arabian specifications, was purchased from Jack Barclays Ltd.  It was delivered new through A.A. Zayani in January 1966 to HH Sheikh Shakhbut Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1905 – 1989) who was the Ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1928 – 1966. Sheikh Shakhbut used the car for around 6 months, and was succeeded by his young and dynamic brother HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004), who was crowned the next Ruler of Abu Dhabi on 6th of Aug 1966. This Phantom was used extensively by Sheikh Zayed during his reign. Photos and videos show the car was used on state occasions such as ‘The Conference of the 9 Emirates’ (which included Bahrain & Qatar) held in 1968 at Al Mutheef Palace in Abu Dhabi, where AK47 holding gunmen guarded the royal car which had the old Abu Dhabi flag fluttering on its wings. It also reportedly transported James Treadwell (First British Ambassador to UAE) to the ceremony on the day  UAE was formally established in 1971. There is also video footage that shows Sheikh Zayed travelling in this very car.  

Although designed more for stately occasions, the spacious boot and comfort of a chauffeur-driven Phantom V was no less than that of the continental touring cars of the swinging sixties. Described as the ‘discovery of the decade’, this spectacular car is the crown jewel among all UAE motor cars. It’s well-preserved condition combined with its unparalleled provenance & pedigree makes it a priceless automotive masterpiece that is intrinsically linked to the history of UAE. PV 5VE15 is the motoring legacy of Sheikh Zayed. It is the automotive treasure of a motor-loving nation. 

As first the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and then the founding father & first President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed is credited with the formation of the federation of 7 Emirates. He is much-loved for creating a model welfare state and his charitable contributions transcended borders and were received by the needy around the world. Utilizing the new-found oil wealth, he initiated landmark developmental projects and personally supervised them which helped transform the once desolate land into one of the world’s richest countries. Sheikh Zayed’s grand & inclusive vision resulted in the creation of what is now a cosmopolitan, multicultural, tolerant and progressive society. 

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