1927 Rolls Royce 20hp
The legend that was to become Rolls Royce was founded in May 1904 when a deal was struck between Frederick Henry Royce and Charles Stewart Rolls. Shortly after the first Rolls Royce motor car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in December 1904. It was agreed that Rolls Royce would initially manufacture four different models being a two cylinder 10hp model, a three cylinder 15hp model, a four cylinder 20hp model and a six cylinder 20hp model. It was immediately apparent that to manufacture their cars Rolls Royce would require a larger factory and the decision was made to establish their headquarters and manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Derby in the east midlands of England.
On the 15th March 1906 the company Rolls Royce Limited was formed and during this year Royce had been developing an improved six-cylinder model with more power than the 30hp. Initially designated the 40/50hp, this was the company’s first all-new model that was also to become known as the Silver Ghost.
Like all car manufactures Rolls Royce was impacted by the first world war, however, post war the company made a strategic decision to manufacture a cheaper smaller car, enter the Rolls Royce 20hp. This model was a success and produced alongside the Silver Ghost and its successor the Phantom ensuring the Rolls Royce motor car company would survive and prosper.
Chassis number GRJ39 was manufactured in 1927 and sold as a rolling chassis through Joseph Cockshott & Co Ltd of Manchester in the UK to its first owner F. Blount Esq from Belfast in the UK. The car was originally bodied by GW Smith & Co Ltd of Stockport in the UK.
As is well documented in John M Fasal’s book The Rolls Royce Twenty “. . . with the longevity of the 20hp chassis, the body styles were outdated long before the chassis showed signs of major wear and therefore many of these cars were rebodied in the thirties”. The two major coachbuilders providing new bodies at that time were Ranalah of Merton and Southern Motors.
It is understood that GRJ39 originally had the horizontal slatted radiator grill and the car’s owner back in thirties wanted to ‘update’ car and it was rebodied by Southern Motors with the ‘new look’ radiator with vertical grills. The earlier history of the car is unknown, however, Fasal’s book (published in 1988) notes the then current owner as Col JA Stevens.
It is not known when the car arrived into Australia, however, its noted fifth owner was the custodian of the car for some twenty years up to 2014 when the car was purchased by its current owner. The car was restored some twenty years ago and it still presents and drives very well.
Back in 2007 the car was flown to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to celebrate 50 years of independence, the King’s birthday and the grand prix.
Today GRJ39 is presented in burgundy over old English white, a colour scheme that really suits the car. The paintwork is generally good with the odd blemish and stone chip evident. Structurally the car looks very good with the only exception being a rust patch starting to come through on the rear of the right hand running board, which would be quite a simple repair. All of the bright work and exterior trim are in very good condition, including the radiator grill. The interior is also in very good condition. The brown Connolly leather is lovely as is the wood work. All of the instruments and controls look to be correct and in good clean condition. The often missing cigar / cigarette lighter and perfume bottle are in the car.
The car starts easily and settles into a smooth idle. Once warm depress the clutch, engage first gear and away she goes! The car is surprisingly easy and quite smooth to drive. The engine has plenty of power and the car pulls well through the gears and it will accelerate easily up to about 80 km/hr. When the current owner acquired the car he conducted a compression test which confirmed good even pressure across all six cylinders, consistent with how the car drives today.
New tyres have just been fitted and it is time for GRJ39 to find its next keeper.
There is a copy of the Rolls Royce factory build sheet that accompanies the car which confirms that GRJ39’s engine, being numbered R2J, is the original engine to the car.
This car presents a unique opportunity into the world of classic Rolls Royce motoring at this price point
- Rolls Royce 20hp
- 3782 miles