1933 Rolls-Royce 20/25 H.P.
Year of manufacture1933
Number of seats2
1933 Rolls-Royce 20/25hp Foursome Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Vanden Plas
Registration no. GAS 975
Chassis no. GRW44
Situated in London's exclusive Mayfair, the showrooms of Rolls-Royce dealers Jack Olding Ltd were patronised by the nobility and gentry, one of whom, Captain Guy Earle of Hanover Gate, London, placed his order for a new 20/25hp model late in 1932. In fact, this order had been intended for another Olding customer, one J Ward Cox Esq, but was taken over by Earle. He commissioned one of London's finest coachbuilders, Vanden Plas Ltd, to build his new car's body, choosing one in the then very fashionable Foursome Drophead Coupé style, in this case a three-position design (number '878'). Founded in Belgium but with a UK presence since 1913, Vanden Plas had forged its not inconsiderable reputation by a most fortuitous alliance with Bentley, bodying some 700-or-so of the latter's chassis during the 1920s, including the Le Mans team cars. Vanden Plas allocated number '1914' to this Rolls-Royce's body, which cost £370. The car's intended use was for touring in the UK and occasionally abroad.
Registered 'JJ 6606', the completed car was delivered to Earle's Hanover Gate residence in March 1933. His specific requirements included twin side-mounted spare wheels, Ace wheel discs all round, DWS jacks front and rear, a complete set of electric lamps, and an extended silencer. The finished car's supreme elegance must have delighted its builder, and 'GRW44' would later be chosen for illustration in Brian Smith's standard reference work, Vanden Plas Coachbuilders, and also in Lawrence Dalton's Those Flegant Rolls-Royce.
Previously a patron of the Bentley marque - he had owned three 6½-Litre models prior to this Rolls-Royce - Captain Guy Earle was also an accomplished cricketer, captaining the Harrow XI in his final year at the school before going on to enjoy a successful career with Somerset County Cricket Club. A fast-scoring batsman, he also played for the MCC on overseas tours to India, Australia, and New Zealand.
Earle kept his new car until 1934 when it passed to J C Hanbury of Chelmsford, a member of the family that formed part of the Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co Ltd brewing empire. Later, in December 1937, the Rolls-Royce was acquired by one W L Wade-Dalton of Hauxwell Hall, Leyburn, North Yorkshire. Subsequently owned by Richard Chesney Sargant, it later passed to Barry Grant in the 1980s.
Subsequently, the Rolls-Royce was exported to the USA where it is known to have belonged to one Daniel Herscher of Los Angeles, California in 1999. It was next owned, from 2002 to 2003, by the Real Car Company of Wales before passing to an unknown German owner in 2003. Back with the Real Car Company in 2004, 'GRW44' was acquired later that same year by Mr Sydney Cooper, a resident of the Republic of Ireland.
During Mr Cooper's ownership, extensive mechanical and electrical restoration was carried out, including fitting hardened valve seats to permit the use of unleaded fuel, and the installation of an overdrive for more relaxed cruising at high speeds. There are invoices on file for all major works carried out by recognised Rolls-Royce specialists including Fiennes Restoration, P W Cooper, A J Glew, and Garry Wright. Following the restoration's completion, 'GRW44' was actively campaigned by Mr Cooper with the R-REC's Irish Section, was rallied in Scotland, and participated in the R-REC's Annual Rally at Kelmarsh Hall, proving utterly reliable at all times.
The current vendor - a most meticulous enthusiast - purchased the Rolls-Royce at Bonhams, since when it has benefited from extensive further improvements carried out by recognised specialists Sargeants of Goudhurst, Fiennes Restoration, and Alan Glew. Documented by numerous receipts on file, these works include an engine overhaul, new radiator, high-ratio rear axle, new clutch, steering box overhaul, new exhaust manifold, and a stainless steel exhaust, while the front seats have been re-trimmed in tan leather by Jimmy Pierce's son, David. Only some 4,000 miles have been covered since the engine rebuild.
Finished in Van Dyke Brown over Caramel, the car also benefits from the discreet installation of modern flashing indicators (the semaphores are disconnected) and comes complete with small tools (in boot tray) and heavy tools (under the bonnet) consisting of a jack, hammer, wheel brace, inspection lamp bulb holder, and oil can.
Now reregistered 'GAS 975', this beautiful Rolls-Royce 20/25hp has won numerous R-REC prizes and been on the front cover of at least three programmes: R-REC Rally and Concours at Rockingham Castle, 2010; R-REC Bulletin, August 2017; and Rockingham Castle, June 2011. Concours awards include 'Most Elegant in Class' at the R-REC's National Annual Rally, Kelmarsh Hall, 2007; 'Best Three-position Coupé' at the St Moritz Euro Rally, September 2008; and 'Best Touring Car' at the R-REC's Annual National Rally, Kelmarsh Hall, 2009. The history file is most extensive and the car also comes with an original handbook and a thoroughly researched owner trace compiled by Motor Historica (perusal recommended).
'GRW44' has arguably the most practical coachwork for historic rallying, its three-position hood providing comfort in all weather conditions. The car is equipped with a central driving light, pillar-mounted swivel spot lamp, tinted sun visor, and twin rear-view mirrors, while the elegantly swept tail provides useful luggage accommodation. In short: this is a fully equipped touring car built by Britain's finest manufacturer boasting exquisite coachwork from one of this country's most celebrated coachbuilders.