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Lot 361: Rolls-Royce 20/25hp Sports Saloon

Collectors' Motor Cars, Bonhams (30 April 2012)

The introduction of a smaller Rolls-Royce - the 20hp - in 1922 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 'Twenty' 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 4th February 1933, chassis number 'GEX29' boasts four-door, four-light sports saloon coachwork by Barker & Co, one of the finest of all British coachbuilders and a firm associated with Rolls-Royce from the latter's earliest days. Barker had been building carriages since the early 18th Century and was already held in high esteem when it turned to bodying automobiles. The Hon C S Rolls was mightily impressed when shown one of its first efforts in 1905 and for the next 25 years the London-based firm was regarded as Rolls-Royce's 'official' coachbuilder. In his definitive work, 'The Rolls-Royce 20/25HP', Tom C Clarke records that this car was first owned by Dr A Sidney-Vernon and given the registration 'JJ 8587', which it retains to this day. The vendor describes this 20/25 as a beautifully original example with a particularly nice interior, the latter being original and in good serviceable order, even down to the carpets. As befits a car intended for the enthusiastic owner/driver, there is no interior division while the rear compartment boasts a full width mahogany picnic table, hinged from the back of the front seats. Specified by Dr Sidney-Vernon, the first owner, this is an attractive and most useful feature. The body is said to be in 1st class condition and the mechanical condition is described as excellent, contributing to a very comfortable and satisfying drive. Finished in black over beige with brown leather upholstery, 'GEX29' is offered with old-style logbook and sundry invoices.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars
Bonhams, The Royal Airforce Museum, London, UK
Lot Number361
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£26000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£29900
Condition rating1
Registration numberJJ 8587
Chassis numberGEX29
Engine numberK6E
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors1