"This model was introduced to meet requests for a smaller, less expensive car in keeping with the trend after the First World War towards smaller cars for a wider market. Construction was simplified - but standards of workmanship were not compromised." - Edward Eves, Rolls-Royce, 75 Years of Motoring Excellence.
Changing times eventually forced the abandonment of Rolls-Royces one model policy, an all-new 20hp car joining the existing 40/50hp Silver Ghost in 1922. The Twenty reflected Royce's interest in contemporary trends within the American automobile industry, incorporating unit construction of engine and gearbox, the latter featuring the modern innovation of a central ball change, and Hotchkiss drive rear axle. The engine, Rolls-Royces first with overhead valves, was a six-cylinder unit displacing 3,127cc.
Off test in March 1926, this standard-wheelbase example of Rolls-Royces successful smaller companion to the Silver Ghost has the four-wheel, servo-assisted brakes and right-hand change, four-speed gearbox introduced on the 20hp model in 1925. An imposing sight from any angle, GZK5 wears coachwork by the respected London-based firm of Thrupp & Maberly, a concern noted for a succession of coachbuilding innovations during the 1920s and 1930s. The car was sold new via Rootes Ltd, of New Bond Street to first owner J C Hill Esq, of Harbourne who appears to have owned it but a short while before it relocated to the North of England.
First registered OP 3316 and originally bodied as a landaulet, the car was rebuilt in its current form as a result of damage sustained, it is believed, "due to enemy action" in WW2. (There is a photograph in the extensive history file showing it partially obscured by fallen debris, possibly bomb damage). By the late 1960s it had been rescued by Ted Samuels, a special effects expert employed at Shepperton Film Studios, who undertook its restoration over a period of years. Photographs on file show the extent of this careful restoration, Mr Samuels - who also worked as a carpenter in the film industry - faithfully replicating the original Thrupp & Maberly coachwork with the exception of the opening landaulet rear compartment, which was enclosed while retaining the original window glass. Restoration notes and sketches for the coach lamps, believed to closely replicate the originals, have been made on the back of movie scripts that also mention times/dates for the collection of Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Caine. This famous duo co-starred in the 1971 British-made movie Zee and Co, and the possibility exists that the Rolls-Royce may have been employed as courtesy transport.
The body has been coach-painted in the traditional manner, rather than sprayed, while the beautiful interior with sliding division - upholstered in buttoned black leather to the front compartment and cream West of England cord to the rear - retains its original, and working, opera lights to the centre pillars. The car features a single side-mounted spare to the nearside and comes complete with toolbox, leather-covered luggage trunk, klaxon, snake-type bulb horn and full weather protection in the form of hood and side-screens. Recent invoices, dating from 2000 and totalling approximately £10,000, show extensive mechanical renovation including a full engine rebuild, the work undertaken by recognised specialists A J Glew, of Wellesbourne and Ristes Motor Co Ltd, of Nottingham. A full-flow lubrication system using a modern cartridge-type oil filter was incorporated at time of rebuild.
Presented in superb condition, this most appealing Twenty was a double award winner at the Tatton Park concours in 2003. The vehicle is offered with copy factory build sheets, assorted correspondence, numerous expired MoT certificates, Swansea V5 registration document and MoT to June 2005.