1923 Rolls-Royce 20hp Coupé, Chassis no. 66H5 Engine no. G381
Lot 369
1923 Rolls-Royce 20hp Coupé,
Registration no. XO 5571 Chassis no. 66H5 Engine no. G381
£ 45,000 - 55,000
US$ 60,000 - 73,000

Lot Details
1923 Rolls-Royce 20hp Coupé, Chassis no. 66H5 Engine no. G381 1923 Rolls-Royce 20hp Coupé, Chassis no. 66H5 Engine no. G381
1923 Rolls-Royce 20hp Coupé

Coachwork by H J Mulliner

Registration no. XO 5571
Chassis no. 66H5
Engine no. G381


  • '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 after WWI eventually forced the abandonment of Rolls-Royce's 'one model' policy, an all-new 20hp car joining the existing 40/50hp Silver Ghost in 1922. The 'Twenty' reflected Henry 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-Royce's first with overhead valves, was a six-cylinder unit displacing 3,127cc. Favourably received as the Twenty was, its three-speed transmission's central gearchange was not well liked, and when four-wheel, servo-assisted brakes were introduced in 1925, a four-speed gearbox with right-hand, gated change replaced the original three-speeder.

    The Twenty's introduction of 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 car 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. This increased power allowed the bespoke coachbuilders greater freedom in their efforts to satisfy a discerning clientele that demanded ever larger and more opulent designs. Apart from the revised engine, early 20/25hp chassis were identical to those of the last 20s, both models being produced during 1929.

    Chassis number '66H5' was supplied new to Sir Harry Peat, senior partner in the accountancy firm Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, who kept the car until his death in 1959. At around this time much work was carried out by Adams & Oliver, Peter Wauchope and others. In March 1961 the car was repainted green and three months later was acquired by one L H Jamieson of Shrewsbury, whose typed summary of its history is on file. Apparently serving in the Royal Navy at the time, Mr Jamieson shipped the car to Cyprus, keeping it there until December 1961 when he had it transported to Naples. The Rolls-Royce proceeded by rail through the Alps and was then driven from Switzerland to Northern France where it was loaded onto a small cargo aircraft and taken home to the UK. In May 1964, 'XO 5571' attended the Rolls-Royce & Bentley 60th Anniversary Pageant at Goodwood and the following year was awarded 2nd prize at the R-REC's Blenheim Rally concours. It is featured in Lawrence Dalton's 'Those Elegant Rolls-Royce' (page 141).

    In June 1966 the car toured the Loire Valley with the '20 Ghost Club' and in August of that year was placed in storage in Edinburgh while its owner was overseas on HMS Fearless. The 'Twenty' was then reserved for use in Edinburgh as the owner's Ghost had been rebuilt and was now his everyday car. Refurbishment carried out over the next dozen-or-so years included coachwork repairs by Wilkinson's of Derby, fitting a new radiator core, and an engine rebuild by David Mead, during which the crankcase was changed. The last entry of substance in Mr Jamieson's history is dated May 1981, recording that the Rolls-Royce was driven to Hull for sea passage to Zeebrugge and then driven on a tour of Loire chateaux. It is not known when he disposed of the 'Twenty'.

    The current vendor purchased 'XO 5571' seven years ago but at time of writing there was no information to hand concerning the car's ownership or whereabouts over the intervening period. Offered with Swansea V5.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this is a Drophead Coupé and not a Coupé as catalogued. Since publication of the catalogue further information has come to light on this cars history- Mr Jamieson sold it to Mr Bob Seabrook of East Hoathly, East Sussex who used it sparingly but did have a new fuel tank made by Julian Parker. Due to ill health he in turn passed it on to Mr Michael Sapsford, who in turn sold it to Mr Alister Reid of Ewell who did some 6000 miles in the car, before selling it to Andrew Booth of Orchid cars from whom the current owner purchased it. This vehicle has recently been fitted with a new cylinder block, and also comes with a substantial history file which can be viewed.
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