1935 Rolls-Royce 20 / 25 HP
This Rolls-Royce was ordered in August 1935 by the Duchess of Carlisle, who was completing a London town home and wanted a motorcar to taker her throughout the city. She decided on a long wheelbase 20/25 limousine.
The Duchess had several specific requests, including division glass (between front and rear), special vanity compartments on either side of the rear compartment, fitted with sterling perfume vials, clothes brushes, note books with sterling pencil sets and front and rear heaters.
The Rolls-Royce was eventually acquired by a U.S. Army officer who shipped the car to the United States where it was acquired by the Kengeter family. A five-year restoration was undertaken with the exception of the rear seating area, which remains as originally delivered.
Sold for $104,500 at 2014 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction.
The Rolls-Royce 20/25 was built from 1929 through 1936 with 3,827 examples delivered. It would become the company's most popular design prior to the Second World War. It was initially built on a 128.7 inch chassis, later being offered on a long chassis of 131.9 inches, which was introduced in 1931. Later examples of the Rolls-Royce 20/25 models featured a four-speed fully-synchronized gearbox and a centralized chassis lubrication system.
Powering the 20/25 was a 3.7-liter inline, overhead-valve six with a cast-iron block. It has a separate aluminum crankcase with a seven-main bearing crankshaft with vibration damper and a detachable cast-iron cylinder head. It was lubricated by a pressurized system that also fed the rocker shaft and timing gears. They had an engine-driven water pump with fan which cooled the engine, and a thermostatically-controlled system open and closed the radiator shutters as required. Ignition was by independent coil, a centrifugal-advance distributor, and a backup magneto. The engine was fed fuel via a single-jet carburetor. The estimated horsepower produced was 65, though the company never publically advertised such numbers, only stating it was 'adequate.' Every engine was run by the company on a dynamometer in order to ensure reliability. The transmission with its single dry-plate clutch was bolted to the rear of the engine block. The floor shift was located to the right of the driver's seat. The cars were given four-wheel, servo-assisted drum brakes and a full-floating type rear axle.
Once the chassis was built and tested by the factory, it was sent to a coachbuilder selected by the customer to receive coachwork. A body was either installed from inventory, or constructed and finished to the buyer's specific wishes.
This car, chassis number GAF 81, is a late 20/25 built on the longer frame. It was fitted with a Series F2 engine number U2B. Its original dynamometer records, dated November 28, 1934, show it developed 55 horsepower at 3000 RPM. The bare chassis was shipped from Crewe to its London agent, Rootes Ltd., on June 19, 1934, where it was placed into stock, awaiting a buyer. Rootes had the chassis delivered to London coachbuilder Thrupp and Maberly on December 17th of 1934, where it was given a 'Foursome Drophead Coupe' body. When completed, the car was finished to its new owner, a Mrs. Campbell of 22 Down Street, W1 London, on March 20, 1935. Ownership appears to have passed through the hands of several British owners in the 1950s before being acquired in London by the current owner, who had it cosmetically restored while still in the UK. Eventually, the car came to the United States and in more recent years it was housed in the San Diego area.
The car is finished in a shade of dark blue, with contrasting horizontal bright-work and chromed landau irons. There is a black canvas three-position top and a tan leather interior. The wheels are covered with painted and polished discs.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2014
The buyer of this car, May Sinclair of London, selected Hooper Coachbuilders to cloak her car in the Sedanca Coupe style. May was a popular British writer, creating dozens of novels in addition to short stories and poetry. She was also an active feminist and wrote several books including 'The Belfry.' The current owner acquired the car in 1975. He was able to share the car with its original designer, Osmond Rivers, in 1978. Rivers inspected the car and pronounced it to be quite original. The car has been kept in concours-ready condition with emphasis on preserving original parts with items replaced only when they were beyond repair. The car has traveled over 127,000 miles. It retains the original tools and owner's manual.
In 1929 the Twenty's replacement, the 20/25 HP was launched. This car used the Twenty chassis, virtually unchanged, but the engine was enlarged from 3.1 litres to 3.7 litres, giving a significant increase in performance. Improved power had become a necessity because owners often insisted on fitting elaborate and heavy coachwork, which severely affected the performance. This was an important change considering owners didn't like to be overtaken by what they believed to be inferior cars.
An 'Autocar' report in 1931 describes the 20/25 thus: 'Every single feature spells durability, the machine is on a plane altogether superior to the normal style of motor car'. This claim is backed up by the fact that this model was the choice of some of the most famous sporting drivers of the day. Tommy Sopwith owned one, as did the famous racing driver Prince Bira of Siam and racing driver and record breaker Sir Malcolm Campbell.
- Rolls-Rocye Motor CarsOverview
The 20/25 kept the Rolls-Royce tradition of a two-model policy, being sold alongside of the Phantom II. It was offered as a more economical car and was smaller than its sibling. All of the 20/25HP were outfitted with custom coachbuilt bodies from legendary names such as Vanden Plas, Freestone and Webb, Brewster, Gurney Nutting, Park Ward, Coachcraft, and Thrupp & Maberly.
Source - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
With nearly 4000 chassis created it is one of Rolls-Royce's best selling contemporary models, lasting from 1929 through 1936. During the production lifespan of the 20/25, the vehicle received many updates. The ignition, brakes, clutch, and carburetors were just a few of the mechanical areas to received modifications and improvements. In 1932 shock absorbers and thermostat controlled devices were introduced. The thermostats operated the radiator air-flow automatically eliminating the need to operate the radiator shutters by hand.