Introduced in 1929 as successor to the Twenty, the 20/25hp up-dated the concept with significant improvements, featuring an enlarged (from 3,127 to 3,669cc) and more powerful cross-flow version of its predecessor's six-cylinder, overhead-valve engine. The latter's increased power allowed the bespoke coachbuilders greater freedom in their efforts to satisfy a discerning clientele that demanded ever larger and more opulent designs. Produced concurrently with the Phantom II, the 20/25 benefited from many of the larger model's improvements, such as synchromesh gears and centralised chassis lubrication, becoming the best-selling Rolls-Royce of the inter-war period.
The Rolls-Royce 20/25hp was, of course, an exclusively coachbuilt automobile. Most of the great British coachbuilding firms offered designs, many of them unique, on the 20/25hp chassis. Some of the most widely admired were the work of J Gurney Nutting, a company associated with quality marques - Bentley in particular - from its earliest days and a supreme practitioner of the coachbuilding craft in the late 1930s. Founded in Croydon, Surrey in 1919, Gurney Nutting had bodied its first Bentley before moving to London's fashionable Chelsea district in 1924, and within a few years was established as the Cricklewood firm's foremost supplier of bodies after Vanden Plas.
Gurney Nutting's work had a sporting flavour from the outset and succeeded in attracting the attention of society's upper echelons; the Prince of Wales and Duke of York were clients, and the firm gained its Royal Warrant in the early 1930s. Daimler and Rolls-Royce had been added to the Gurney Nutting portfolio in the mid-1920s, and the fruitful association with the latter continued into the succeeding decade.
This example is presented in excellent condition having just the subject of an extensive restoration undertaken over an eight-year period. The last word in motoring elegance, the car is finished in shimmering silver while the interior has been re-upholstered in red leather throughout with matching red carpets and new headlining in Beige woollen cloth. The woodwork was removed and sent to recognised specialists, Silvercrest, simply the last word in woodwork reconditioning. Affording the prospect of alfresco summer motoring, the Sedanca roof slides easily away into its rear recess.
On the mechanical side, the engine has been rebuilt by a specialist and is currently being gently run in. The spotless under-bonnet area looks just as good as the car's exterior, which is what one would expect from such a painstaking restoration. The boot lid incorporates a tool tray that is supplied separately with the Rolls Royce.
From the owner's recollection, the list of accompanying bills totalling £119,083 is as follows, though it should be noted that it does not take into consideration the 1,000-or-so hours of the owner's labour.
Taylor's UK Ltd, Chichester: £18,000
Penny Vintage Carriage: £29,983
Fiennes Restoration Ltd: £20,000
OSC Chessington: £700
Freddy Gaby: £1,250
Richard James (upholstery and carpets): £5,000
Vintage Tyres: £1,500
Tadworth Tyres: £150
CCB (metal specialists): £2,000
Dennis Eva (wiring, engine rebuilding): £35,000