1925 Rolls-Royce 20hp Two Door 'Landau' Coupe
Coachwork by Locke & Company, New York
Chassis no. GNK 66
3,127cc OHV inline 6-cylinder engine
Single updraft carburetor
4-speed manual gearbox
Solid front and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs
4-wheel servo-assisted brakes
*Rare American bodied 20hp Rolls-Royce
*Early 'center change' gearbox derivative
*Formerly owned by Richard C. Paine Jr.
*Offered from a Private European Museum Collection
The 20hp Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce's 20hp was well ahead of its time in many regards. In the late 1990s when Bentley decided to look at a broader market for its products and introduced the Continental Coupe, it was hailed as genius and spurred marketing which brought them the Le Mans crown again after 70 years, this was a similar move. The 20hp was catering to the same market, the company wisely realizing that in the post- Great War era its market would head more towards the owner who was also the driver, or indeed to a slightly smaller budget than its clientele had traditionally had.
With it the company templated a new in line six cylinder engine, which would later form the basis in an enlarged capacity for the first two of its Phantom series, it also moved the gear and handbrake levers to the center of the car, improving access for the driver and enabling practical four door coachwork to be fitted to the chassis. The latter proved confusing to the British and within 3 or so years the cars reverted to a right hand lever arrangement, but in the U.S. this would be adopted for Springfield built Phantoms, showing that Rolls was very much in touch with the times.
The Motorcar Offered
20hp cars were never built in America, but the new Springfield, Mass. factory clearly took orders for the model and this is one such car. GNK 66 was originally supplied through Rolls-Royce America to William G. Loew of Madison Avenue, New York. U.K. Rolls-Royce records note that originally the car was intended to be an enclosed 5 seater, and that just prior to shipping from Liverpool this was changed to a 2 door coupe, presumably referencing the body that the car wears today. The car was guaranteed in June 1925, when we may presume it was ready for the road.
The Twenty was bodied by Locke and Co. of New York, whose heyday was the late teens and early 1920s, and who were known predominantly for specifically tailored coachwork on luxury chassis, Duesenberg, Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Mercedes included. As the decade progressed they began to produce sets of standard coachwork for Chrysler, Graham, Franklin and Lincoln among others, and waned slightly after the untimely death of their Massachusetts born founder, Justus Vinton Locke in 1925.
It would be optimistic to assume that the coachwork that this car wears was anything other than a custom order, however, its quality of build and distinct appearance is without question and it is imagined that it was for its owner's use in the city. Quite how long Mr. Loew owned the car is not recorded, but it is known that Richard Paine purchased the car from the Webber family of Waterlooville, Maine, it is presumed in his prime buying time of the late 1960s or early 1970s and that it reflected another of his collecting traits being purchasing cars that he felt either had spent much of their lives in Maine or New England, or epitomized the region.
Today the car is in tidy but aged order, its paint and interior showing wear and use, but not excessively. Perhaps of most interest to marque aficionados is how it blends British features of the model such as split rim wheels with American 'drum' head and sidelights, for this reason alone it deserves close observation, as much as for its original and unspoiled appearance.
- Please note, being an early 20hp model, this example is equipped with rear-wheel non-servo assisted brakes, not four-wheel brakes, and a 3-speed manual transmission.
Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.