1931 Rolls-Royce 20/25hp Close Coupled Fixed Head Coupe
Coachwork by Park Ward Ltd.
Chassis no. GNS 29
Engine no. A4H
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. Its successor, the 20/25hp, introduced in 1929, updated the concept with significant improvements, featuring an enlarged (from 3,127 to 3,669cc) and more-powerful cross-flow 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.
To many the early 20/25hp cars have the best proportions of this series as they retain the early shorter hood of the 20hp, yet with the increased performance over its predecessor, and have less of the tendency for over-bodying that later cars had. In this case, the coachwork is by one of the most successful and long lived names in the profession, Park Ward, who would later become part of Rolls-Royce itself.
The car is bodied with a very handsome fixed head coupe, or perhaps 'foursome' coupe as it could be accurately described as it has the appearance of being for two people, but actually provides comfortable seating for four. The ingenuity in the design is that the floor behind the seats drops, allowing legroom for the rear passengers to be 'close coupled' to the front, and furthermore the roof line can stay level. It is understood by the sellers that only three such bodies were built by the coachbuilder on the 20/25hp chassis.
According to factory records GNS 29 was originally supplied to Harry Neal Esq. of Eastbury Grange, in Middlesex, U.K. A series of British owners in and around London followed in the immediate pre-war period, and at some point after this the car migrated to these shores.
In the former ownership of a collector for some 30 years, the Rolls received a professional restoration in 2000, at the hands of Gray Hills Auto Restoration in New Jersey. Shown at the AACA Hershey meet last fall, this work continues to present extremely well, the paintwork and interior being unblemished, and engine compartment remaining very tidy.
- Please note that this vehicle is titled as 1930