Rolls-Royce 20HP

Rolls-Royce 20
Rolls-Royce 20
Rolls-Royce 20 HP
Rolls-Royce 20 HP
Rolls-Royce 20 HP

Total Production: 2,940 1922 - 1929
Aimed at the professional segment of the middle-class owner-drivers such as doctors, dentists, solicitors and moderately successful businessmen, the Twenty cost about 40% less than a Ghost, yet still met the same exacting standards of design, materials and workmanship.

In the year of its launch in 1922, it had a chassis price of 1,100 (pounds) with a standard open tourer body the price was around 1,600 pounds. The Twenty was conceived and executed with typical attention to detail, object, being as stated by Royce: 'to spend as much money in the construction as can be done wisely, but not unnecessarily'.

The Twenty had been built to carry open and enclosed bodies with up to six seats, but with a light body it was capable of what Royce called a high road speed. In 1922 40 mph was considered a fast cruising speed, yet the Twenty was capable of just over 60 mph.

Ongoing development of the car, a process the company used on most models, eventually upped the top speed to over 70 mph.

Henry Royce's biographer, Sir Max Pemberton, raved about his Twenty. 'The late Lord Northcliffe once said to me that as an instrument of advertising British efficiency in industry, the Rolls-Royce car was unique. When I reflect upon the performance of the 'Twenty' I have driven now for six years, I am wholly in accord with this opinion. It is surely one of the world's two great cars. The other is the 'Phantom'.

Source - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Around the same time that public interest was leaning towards the post-WW1 cars, Royce began development on his design for a brand new chassis, a smaller vehicle, and the first project since 1906 that would reach production. In the U.S. this little car was dubbed the 'Baby Rolls'. In 1922 it was debuted as the '20 HP car' or the 'Twenty'. This engine was fully an overhead-valve type and until the original F-head 20 HP of 1905 it was a six-cylinder engine instead of a four. Originally it came with a three-speed gearbox. The capacity was 191 cubic inches and bore and stroke are 3 by 4 ½ inches.

The 1922 20 HP engine was slightly smaller than the late straight six cylinder Chevy engines before the high-powered V8s became popular. The six cylinders were cast as a single block and depicted the first engine with a detachable head carrying vertical overhead valves operated by push-rods and with the gearbox integral with the clutch housing and engine. Earlier on in the original models the gearshift lever was located in the middle in this right-hand drive chassis but eventually a four-speed gearbox would replace the three-speed unit. The gear change lever would be relocated to the right-hand side along with the hand-brake, much like the contemporary 40/50 made in the UK, and the earlier ones produced at Springfield.

Instead of the torque-tube housing that was found on the Ghost chassis the 20 HP featured an open propeller shaft. The maximum power output was around 50 BHP and the compression ratio is 4.6 to 1. Never built at Springfield, the Twenty did quite well in Europe.

Built on a shorter wheelbase than the Silver Ghost, the 20 HP was easily recognized by its horizontally arranged radiator shutters. The smaller 3-liter, 6-cylinder engine 20 HP was an excellent addition to the Rolls-Royce range. Between 1922 and 1929 a total of 2,885 Twenty's were produced. These models were geared towards the middle-class owners like doctors, dentists and other successful businessmen. It cost around 40% more than a Ghost though it continued to meet the same rigorous standards of design, components and craftsmanship.

Royce stated its intent was 'to spend as much money in the construction as can be done wisely, but not unnecessarily' on the design of the Twenty. As such it was created with the usual exacting attention to detail as all Rolls-Royce vehicles. The standard open tourer body Twenty was priced around 1,600 pounds while a chassis ran for around 1,100 pounds.

Featuring a high road speed according to Royce, the Twenty was built with a light body but could carry open and enclosed bodies up to six seats. The '20 HP' was able to achieve over 60 mph, which was impressive considering 40 mph was considered a fast cruising speed in 1922.

By Jessica Donaldson