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1929 Rolls Royce 20 hp Chassis
Registration No. DAB 983
Chassis No. GFN 46
Engine No. D72
Hammer price:£ 10000
Rolls Royce introduced the 20 hp in 1922 as a ‘small’ alternative to the Silver Ghost and later Phantom I models in answer to the need for a car more suited to the owner driver, and at the same time incorporating modern innovations and designs required since the Great War. The new model undoubtedly cost less to run, and somewhat less to purchase initially, but the quality was the same, and the cars were immediately acclaimed, with nearly 3,000 chassis laid down before production ended in 1929 on the introduction of 20/25.
The chassis was more modern than the Ghost, the engine in particular, being a six cylinder monobloc with a detachable head and 7 bearing crankshaft, with a capacity of 3,127 ccs, and a gearbox mounted in unit. The construction was entirely conventional, with very precise steering and excellent brakes to all wheels, and servo assisted by the time this chassis was laid down. At first the gearbox was a 3-speed unit with central gear change (and central handbrake) but this was much criticised as being too American, and by 1925 the box was now 4 speed, with right hand gear lever and handbrake (again as fitted to this car).
Chassis No. GFN 46 was on test in October 1928 and delivered to Mulliners coachbuilders of Chiswick London in December of that year to be fitted with their 6 Light Weyman Saloon body with division. The car was then delivered to The Hon. George Akers Douglas of St Mary Cray in Kent, in October 1929 for the sum of £1400, and the build sheets, of which a copy is included with the lot, show that he kept the car until at least 1936. The original registration number was KP 475.
At some time in the mid 1930s, the original 1928 Weymann body was removed, possibly because its light weight construction could have resulted in early disintegration, and the car was updated with a later and taller 20/25 radiator and bulkhead and fitted with a ‘modern’ Southern coachworks convertible body. At the same time, the car was registered with a more modern number, as currently worn, namely DAB 983. A photograph amongst the papers with the car show that this was an attractive updating, but it seems that this second coachwork also disintegrated, and when the car came into the hands of the late owner in West Wales, he determined to rebuild the chassis to a high standard, and fit replica Barker ‘barrel sided’ touring coachwork, arguably the most attractive style fitted to a 20 hp Rolls Royce. At the time of his death the owner had completed an engine rebuild (though this may not have been needed as the engine had little wear) and the chassis was very properly prepared to receive its proposed coachwork. At the same time a lower and earlier 20 hp radiator and bulkhead were acquired and fitted, to suit the proposed Barker tourer.
A large file is included with the car, containing bills for work undertaken, and parts supplied as well as a huge number of photographs showing work in progress from the arrival of the complete car before dismantling up to the present complete state.
A very worthwhile project, with all the hard work done, resulting in a well restored chassis, running well and now ready to receive suitable coachwork.