1933 Rolls-Royce 20/25hp Foursome Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Vanden Plas
Registration no. ZV 7720 (Ireland)
Chassis no. GRW44
Engine no. W5P
No less than 3,827 examples of the 20/25hp Rolls-Royce chassis left the Derby production lines, all destined for bespoke coachbuilders who vied eagerly for custom among the nobility and old money. Ownership of a Rolls-Royce had long been a social statement since the marque was dubbed as The Best Car in the World. The smaller and less expensive 20/25hp model brought Rolls-Royce products to a wider market, although there was no compromise in quality for the smaller car. The 20/25hp was powered by a smooth, six-cylinder engine of 3.7 litres with pushrod-operated overhead valves. Engineering quality reflected Rolls-Royces reputation for building The Best Car in the World and a comprehensive dealer network serviced the marque, working closely with the factory in providing only the most meticulous service for their demanding clients. Direct contact between owner and manufacturer was actively encouraged and Rolls-Royce ran its own chauffeur training school, its aim being to ensure that their products received the best of care at all times.
The showrooms of Jack Holding Ltd., situated in Londons exclusive Mayfair, were frequented by the nobility and gentry, particularly in view of their Rolls-Royce dealership. Capt. Guy Earle of Hanover Gate, London, was just one such customer who placed his order for his new 20/25hp Rolls-Royce late in 1932. His demanding standards dictated that one of Londons finest coachbuilders, Vanden Plas, be commissioned to build the coachwork for his new car. The favoured style was to be the extremely fashionable Foursome Drophead Coupé, in this case to Design no.878, and Vanden Plas allocated Body no.1914 to Earles new car, this coachwork costing £370. The complete car delivered to his Hanover Gate residence in March 1933. Specific requirements for this car were twin side-mounted spare wheels, Ace wheel discs all round, DWS jacks front and rear and an extended silencer. The supreme elegance of the finished car must have delighted its builders and this particular car was chosen for illustration in Brian Smiths Vanden Plas Coachbuilders standard reference work and also in Lawrence Daltons Those Elegant Rolls-Royce.
Earle kept his new car until 1934 when it passed to J C Hanbury of Chelmsford and later, in 1937, to a W L Wade Dalton of Leyburn, North Yorkshire. Its complete post-war history is not recorded however the car comes from a well-known Rolls-Royce connoisseur who was attracted by the supreme elegance of the model and overall originality. During this ownership significant mechanical and electrical restoration has been carried out to ensure reliability for the most testing tours. The valve seats have been hardened for use with unleaded fuel and an overdrive has been fitted to ease engine strain on the faster motorway runs. Wheel discs have been fitted (not illustrated in all the photographs) to return it to Capt. Earles original order specification. Invoices are on file for the greater part of the £30,000 or so of expenditure covering all significant work carried out only by Rolls-Royce specialists including Fiennes Restoration Ltd., P W Cooper, A J Glew and Garry Wright, its fastidious owner selecting only those restorers of significant repute.
The car comes from Irish ownership and is currently registered in Southern Ireland, although previously registered in the U.K. JJ 6606 and GAS 975. Since completion of the restoration GRW 44 has been actively campaigned with the newly formed R-R.E.C. Irish Section, rallied in Scotland and has participated in the R-R.E.C. Annual Rally at Kelmarsh Hall. During all this recent mileage GRW 44 has proved utterly reliable, meeting its owners demanding standards for comfort and reliability and fully endorsing Rolls-Royces own supreme reputation.
GRW 44 has surely the most desirable coachwork for todays rallying, its three-position hood providing comfort for all weather conditions. The handsome coachwork is now presented in brown and beige livery with fawn leather upholstery. The elegant swept tail provides useful luggage accommodation while the car is equipped with a centre driving light, pillar-mounted swivel spot lamp, tinted sun visor and twin rear view mirrors. In short, a fully equipped touring car from Englands finest chassis manufacturer and arguably most famous coachbuilder, prepared in all respects for the 2006 rally season. It comes of course with the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, copy Factory Build and Order Sheets and copies of restoration invoices.