The Duchess

“The Duchess” a 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I

Dual Cowl Phaeton – Body by Barker

One of the last of the Phantom I Touring Cars to leave the Rolls-Royce factory “The Duchess” has won awards at the most prestigious Concours d’Elegance in the World. Model Motorcars is proud to have been selected by her owner to build the scale replica of this important and stunningly beautiful motorcar. Follow along as we use the same methods and materials and old-world craftsmanship to create one of the great scale replica motorcars ever hand built.


We proudly share our greatest achievement to date - THE DUCHESS - in full 360' detail
Click on our videos below and enjoy!



L to R : Ken Mauger, Butch Murphy, Jr., Butch Murphy, Sr., Jorge Ehrenwald Ken is the panel man who is doing the metal work on The Duchess. Butch and Butch are the owners of E.F. Murphy and the guys in charge of the restoration of The Duchess. Jorge is on the right enjoying his encounter with the 1:1 prototype that he’s been studying for so many years.

The wife of a customer was touring the plant in Crewe when she inquired of Mr. Rolls the speed of his production line. After taking few seconds to consider the question The Honorable Charles Stewart Rolls replied with great pride

“Madam, I believe it moved just last week.”

And slowly but surely, we have entered the final stages of the Duchess project, a radical transformation of the Pocher PII Rolls Royce into a Barker-bodied twin-cowl Rolls Royce PI. Much easier said than done, as the project has entailed countless custom-built parts, as well as extensive modification of the few Pocher parts involved. So many parts, so many challenges, so many stories…. we’ll let our pictures tell the story thus far..

As final assembly begins, we can’t help but stop and take a few minutes to compare the scale replica on the left to the prototype on the right. From the front driving lights to the lenses in the fixtures themselves to the tip of the exhaust in the back, everything is just as it should be. And by the time we’ve finished this model, we will have spent more years building the replica than the craftsmen at Crewe spent building the original!

These pictures show the proportions of the one-off Spirit of Ecstasy that we commissioned for The Duchess. She certainly looks proud atop her perch.

One of the first sub-assemblies we finished in The Duchess project was the tires and wheels.

We believe that the gentlemen Rolls and Royce would be proud of this particular PI.

No Detail Too Small

Taken as a whole, the Rolls-Royce is a beautiful car. But look past the vehicle itself and study the details in their own right and you see an entirely new level of beauty and elegance that is simply astonishing. Throughout the entire Duchess build, we have worked very hard to capture that simple elegance that exists in every detail of the car.

With the metal frame returned from plating in Florida, the wooden rails that make up the hood supports are joined with the chrome support mechanism. It’s a shame this will be covered with canvas when finished.

As we enter the final stages of production, paint and finish take front and center. The wings have returned from the paint booth where they received their oxblood finish.

The photos above and on the right show the replica sporting her new fenders while the photograph below shows the actual car during her lengthy restoration. The paint match between the two is perfect and we couldn’t be more excited with the results.

Next up… the body will be painted and pinstriped while work continues on the hood. After years or design, fabrication, trial and error this amazing replica is just about done.

“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.”
– Sir Henry Royce

Here we see our 1:8 scale replica of the integrated side-mount spotlight / rear view mirror. Compare that to the photo on the right where we see the actual piece on “The Duchess”.

Getting the taper and lip just right were critical for this signature design element; the bullet-shaped side indicator lights. Once we nickel plate the scale piece (left) it will be identical to the actual light (on the right).

The Duchess features a spare tire mounted on each side of the body just outside the front passenger compartment. And atop each spare is a nickel-plated rear-view mirror secured to the tire itself with leather straps and brass buckles.

On the left is the scale version of the mirror in brass (before plating). On the right is the actual piece.

Once we add the leather straps and buckles, they’ll be a perfect match.

The Dashboard

The scale pieces are on the left and their full-size counterparts are on the right. The pictures pretty much say it all and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

The Petrol Tank

This first photo shows a close-up detail shot of the 1:8 scale replica that we are building. Unlike the PII tank, the Phantom I features a perfectly round petrol tank with gauges, hoses and ports unique to the 1928 model. Here we see all those details reproduced in scale down to the very last rivet and bolt.

Compare that photo above to the two photos to the right that show the same view of the 1:1 scale prototype. Even the unique “wings” on the cap over the fuel filler neck are captured in the scale replica. Having the opportunity to build models like this reminds us of how much fun it is to be part of the scale model world.

The body is fully finished, the Model Motorcars wheels (cast in resin, without the improper Pocher rings) are ready, the scratch-built rear-end with more than 100 custom parts is assembled and the scratch-built windshield is finished too.

The Steering Wheel & Driver’s Controls

The great cars of the classic era were incredibly complicated machines with every feature and function being the result of a series of mechanical rods, levers and servos. As the dash boards spanned the entire expanse of the driver’s compartment, many of the controls for the engine and fuel/air mixture controls were place at the driver’s fingertips by placing them on the steering wheel. The photo in the top left-hand corner is the scale replica we have created for the 1:8 Duchess. The next three photos show the actual assembly that we had to replicate. Today, as it was back then, nothing was simple. And as with every other component of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II, every piece was engineered to the most exacting specifications.

Jorge is doing amazing work. The body is now being covered with brass before painting.

The lights and lighting hardware on the “The Dutchess” are unique. We utilized over 300 photographs to make sure our replica was spot-on perfect.

There are nearly twenty individual parts in the license place mounting assembly alone. By comparison, the same assembly on a Ford manufactured in the same year had a total of 2 parts. The picture below is the license plate and mounting assembly on the “The Dutchess” herself.

The carrosserie’s – body designers and builders – of the classic era built their creations much like the boats that they built before the automobile became the favored toy of the rich and famous – wooden frames covered in hand-hammered aluminum and steel panels. We are building the replica using the exact same process!

The Pocher Phantom II engine is our starting place as we begin construction of the “New Phantom” straight eight engine. Nearly everything – from the inspection plates to the wiring looms to the exhaust manifolds – have been fabricated by hand in order to perfectly capture the elegance of the original Rolls-Royce PI power plant.

The two photos above demonstrate the unique design of the Phantom I exhaust manifolds on the scale block. The two photos below show the actual engine that we are working to reproduce at 12.5% the size.

Look at the three pictures of the Phantom I engine block here and see if you can identify all the differences between this straight 8 and the one that was placed under the bonnet of the Phantom II. Then look at how we retro-transformed the Pocher PII engine into its’ predecessor.

One of the first things we had to do when we started building the block was to modify the cases and fabricate the new inspection plates. The photos below on the left are of the model. The ones on the right are just some of the over 1000 photos of the engine in the actual car that we used for reference. And as if this project weren’t complicated enough, it’s important to mention that the photos of the actual car were being taken in Ohio while the replica was being designed and fabricated in both Florida and Mexico. This has truly been a global initiative.

Watch closely as our Rolls-Royce Phantom II carburetor becomes a Rolls-Royce Phantom I carburetor.