Rolls-Royce looks back at rich Black Badge heritage


The Rolls-Royce Black Badge has always been a symbol of self-expression — pushing boundaries, redefining what’s possible, and challenging established conventions.

On that note, the British luxury automotive brand looks back at the history and heritage of its famed Black Badge series.

“From its very earliest days, Rolls-Royce has attracted free spirits, creative minds, and those who seek to challenge established conventions. Though from entirely different backgrounds, our founders both refused to be bound by the norms and expectations of early 20th Century society. It was their courage, vision, and willingness to push boundaries that made them who they were — and our company what it is today,” says Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chief Executive Officer, Torsten Müller-Ötvös.

Phantom II Continental

In 1930, designer Ivan Evernden drafted an experimental Phantom II Continental — designated 26EX — at the personal request of Henry Royce. It was designed specifically for long-distance “continental” touring.


It had a short chassis and close-coupled four-seat saloon body, with the two spare wheels mounted vertically behind the luggage compartment for optimum weight distribution. Barker & Co. commissioned the coachwork which sat on a sub-frame.

The Phantom II Continental won the Grand Prix d’Honneur when Evernden and Don Carlos de Salamanca drove the car to a concours d’elegance in Biarritz.

A spin-off of the Phantom II Continental, dubbed the 94MY, was built in 1933. Its bodywork, commissioned by London coachbuilder Gurney Nutting, had adjustable front bucket seats, twin windscreen wipers, and flush-fitting direction indicators behind the side windows.

The aforementioned features were all unusual for the period. That said, Rolls-Royce believes that if any 1930s Rolls-Royce could lay claim to embodying the spirit of today’s Black Badge, it is this one.

Phantom V (5AT30)

The Phantom V was launched in 1959 as a successor to the venerable Silver Wraith. The Duke of Gloucester, third son of King George V and Queen Mary, and uncle to Queen Elizabeth II, ordered one and had strong ideas about his Phantom V.


He had installed bespoke items including a much smaller-than-standard backlight, large fog lamps, door-mounted driving mirrors, sliding shutters to the rear windows, and two Stephane Grebel spotlights.

The Spirit of Ecstasy mascot was replaced with the Duke’s own mascot of an eagle in flight.

Phantom V (5VD73)

It was 1964 and the Beatles stormed the world with A Hard Day’s Night. In December, as a gift to himself, John Lennon ordered a brand-new Rolls-Royce Phantom V from R. S. Mead of Maidenhead.

The requested specifications, as Rolls-Royce puts it, were highly individual.


John Lennon wanted the car not just to be black, but black everywhere, inside and out, including all the brightwork that would normally be finished in chromium plate or stainless steel.

“People think they’ve got black windows to hide. It’s partly that, but it’s also for when you’re coming home late. If it’s daylight when you’re coming home, it’s still dark inside the car — you just shut all the windows and you’re still in the club,” Lennon said during an interview with Rolling Stone in 1965.

Later, the car was repainted in vivid psychedelic electric yellow, embellished with flowers, Romany scrolls, and signs of the zodiac. Although no longer in black, it is still undeniably unique which perfectly encapsulates the Black Badge spirit.

“These wonderful historic cars are perfect examples of how that rebellious spirit infuses our brand story and continues in the modern era with our Black Badge products,” said the Rolls-Royce boss.

Photos from Rolls-Royce

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