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Lot 359: Rolls-Royce 20/25hp All Weather Saloon

Collectors' Motor Cars, Bonhams (30 April 2012)

Changing times after WWI eventually forced the abandonment of Rolls-Royce's 'one model' policy, an all-new 20hp car joining the existing 40/50hp Silver Ghost in 1922. The 'Twenty' reflected Henry Royce's interest in contemporary trends within the American automobile industry, incorporating unitary construction of engine and gearbox, the latter featuring the modern innovation of a central ball change, and 'Hotchkiss drive' rear axle. The engine, Rolls-Royce's first with overhead valves, was a six-cylinder unit displacing 3,127cc. Favourably received as the Twenty was, its three-speed transmission's central gearchange was not well liked, and when four-wheel, servo-assisted brakes were introduced in 1925, a four-speed gearbox with right-hand, gated change replaced the original three-speeder. The Twenty's introduction of enabled the company to cater for the increasingly important owner-driver market that appreciated the quality of Rolls-Royce engineering but did not need a car as large as a 40/50hp Ghost or Phantom. The car proved eminently suited to town use yet could cope admirably with Continental touring when called upon. Nevertheless, by the late 1920s the trend towards ever-heavier coachwork was beginning to have a detrimental effect on the Twenty's performance. Introduced in 1929, the successor 20/25hp model addressed this problem, featuring numerous improvements, the most significant of which was an enlarged (from 3,127 to 3,669cc) version of the Twenty's six-cylinder, overhead-valve engine. The latter's increased power allowed the bespoke coachbuilders greater freedom in their efforts to satisfy a discerning clientele that demanded ever larger and more opulent designs. Produced concurrently with the Phantom II, the 20/25 benefited from many of the larger model's improvements, such as synchromesh gears and centralised chassis lubrication, becoming the best-selling Rolls-Royce of the inter-war period. The Rolls-Royce 20/25hp was, of course, an exclusively coachbuilt automobile and most of the great British coachbuilding firms offered designs, many of them unique, on the 20/25hp chassis. Off test on 15th December 1933, chassis number 'GRW52' boasts four-door, four-light coachwork by Salmons & Sons of Newport Pagnell, one of the most commercially successful of all British coachbuilders and originators of the 'Tickford' all-weather saloon body, of which this is a fine example. The body features the Salmons' patented, quick-action, wind-down hood mechanism, which enables the car to be transformed from a snug saloon into an open tourer in moments while still offering a great deal of wind and weather protection to the occupants. 'GRW52' was supplied new in 1933 to Harry Marland of Tunbridge Wells and in 1956 was sold to its second owner, Guy Milner. The third owner, from 1972, was William Goodwin. Purchased by the current (fourth) owner in 1994, the Rolls-Royce appeared in the third series of Carlton Television's 'Thief Takers' in 1997 and in 1999 was extensively restored. A full engine rebuild was undertaken by S A Cotterell in 2001, since when the car has covered only 600-or-so miles and thus is not yet fully run in. The sporting coachwork is finished in black over carriage green and boasts a fully lined, heavy grained, black hide top, while the interior has been re-trimmed in green Connolly hide with fastidious attention to detail, featuring beautiful polished woodwork. Other noteworthy features include twin side-mounted spares, 'bulls-eye' headlights, correct centre light, trumpet horns, rear carrier and twin 'owl' rear lights. Running beautifully, 'GRW52' will be driven to the sale and is presented in quite outstanding condition in every respect. Taxed and MoT'd, the car comes complete with mascot, handbook and a wonderful history file containing a quantity of expired MoT certificates and tax discs, old-style logbook, previous Swansea V5 documents, current V5C, service records, etc, close inspection of which is recommended.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars
Bonhams, The Royal Airforce Museum, London, UK
Lot Number359
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£43000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£49450
Condition rating1
Registration numberXJ 5555
Chassis numberGRW52
Engine numberE2H
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors4