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.
Tom C Clarke's definitive work, The Rolls-Royce 20/25HP, lists chassis number 'GNS1' as completed with landaulette coachwork by Hooper & Co and first owned by one A M Morgan. First registered in Dumbarton on 8th August 1931, 'SN 5245' was purchased by the vendor as a rolling chassis and placed in the hands of a local restorer, who commenced work on the vehicle in 2006. Its owner's intention, when the project was completed, was to use it on his Scottish estate. However, in 2007 the restorer ceased trading and the vehicle was transferred to Beacon Garage in Doncaster where the work was completed.
The 20/25 chassis and running gear was restored, and an unused Rolls-Royce six-cylinder 4½-litre B60 engine installed together with the original gearbox and a modern Borg & Beck clutch. Designed in the late 1930s for the next generation of Rolls-Royce and Bentley passenger cars, the 4¼-litre B60 was first put to use in military applications, powering vehicles such as the Daimler Ferret armoured car and Humber 1-ton lorry. The B60 made its civilian debut in the Bentley MkVI in 1946 and would continue to power Rolls-Royce products, latterly in 4½-litre form, up to 1959.
Other works undertaken during the 20/25's restoration included completely rewiring the electrics and rebuilding the radiator with a new core and re-plating it. A new body was constructed around a steel inner frame, with a polished wooden outer frame panelled in aluminium, while the upholstery was trimmed in black leather. Completed in 2008 at a cost of over £80,000, the car has been driven only infrequently due to a change in the vendor's plans, its use being confined to attending a few shows and trips to three MoT tests (certificates on file). The history file also contains sundry invoices and restoration photographs, Swansea V5C document and an old-style RF60 continuation logbook issued in January 1945. This RF60 indicates that 'SN 5245' was registered to the St John's Ambulance Brigade in Kingston-upon-Hull, and no doubt was being used as an ambulance at that time. The vehicle also comes with a current road fund licence and MoT to June 2013.
Capable of carrying the driver plus seven passengers, this striking conveyance cries out to be used for shooting parties or deployed in other appropriate settings.