RESERVE LOWERED - 1928 Rolls Royce 20HP Limousine by Park Ward


・Lovingly restored over 30 years
・Massive amount of history 
・Excellent, useable condition throughout
・Beautiful interior
・Regular long distance tourer
・Overdrive gearbox

The Background

Unveiled in 1922, the 20HP was an addition to the Rolls-Royce line up - a shorter, more economical sibling to the Silver Ghost which broadened the marque’s reach to appeal to both the very rich and seriously rich! The new model was constructed around a 129 inch wheelbase ladder frame chassis. Powered by a smaller 3,127cc straight-six, OHV engine it was initially sold with a three-speed manual gearbox.  Progressively updated to feature a four-speed gearbox and servo-assisted all-wheel brakes, the ‘baby’ Rolls remained in production until 1929, when some 2,885 examples had rolled from the company’s Derby factory. Lighter and more responsive than the Silver Ghost, the 20HP was capable of exceeding 60mph and is now regarded as the most practical and usable Rolls Royce of the era.

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The History

The first factor to bear in mind is that this Rolls Royce had one owner from 1963 until 2019!  In 1963 he started a restoration that continued until the early 1990s, and once completed the Rolls spent the next 20 years being driven all over the UK and the Continent on club tours, events and holidays, each journey meticulously logged and documented.  This is not a museum piece (although it is good enough to be one) but a reliable, running and driving car rebuilt to Rolls Royce standards.

There is a letter on file to Mr Moore, the owner, dated December 1963 from Mr Haynes, Manager of Service and Engineering at Rolls Royce.  In the letter it confirms that the Rolls Royce 20hp chassis GWL16 was delivered to its first owner, a Mrs J Johnson in June 1928 having been built as a six passenger saloon body by Park Ward Coachworks of 26 New Bond St.  There may be further historical information that will fill in the gaps from then to Mr Moore’s ownership in the enormous crate of documents that accompany the Rolls. 

In the photographs you will see a black and white image of the Rolls as purchased for £55 by Mr. Moore from a used car lot in Washwood Heath, Birmingham in 1963.  Although complete, the Rolls was tired and a little crusty!  It was completely disassembled, and slowly and meticulously restored with every detail recorded in numerous handwritten notebooks, complete with notes, drawings and explanations on each stage of the work. It was the start or a lifelong passion for the Rolls Royce that would take him through years of research and self-taught restoration followed by 1000s of miles of reliable and enjoyable driving.  A lifelong member of the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club the car is well known and highly regarded in Club circles and was a regular sight on Club tours and rallies. By examining the MoT history we can see that in 2006 the Rolls had covered 51,880 miles, and then in 2012 had increased by over 26,000 miles to 78,000, an average of over 4,000 miles a year!

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The Paperwork

As mentioned earlier there is a large crate of documents, notebooks, letters, invoices, books and manuals that will accompany the Rolls to its new owner.  Within the crate we are sure there is far more history and information on the car, and we were only able to get a glimpse into its past on our brief visit.  There is a long winter’s weekend of fun to be had fully exploring the contents of the crate!

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The Interior

It is quite normal with cars of this age for the interiors to be musty and a little shabby.  Rest assured that is not the case with the Rolls; it’s delightful.  A quick glance at the photographs will give you an idea of the quality of the restoration and the attention to detail.  The grey leather seats are in lovely condition with only minor wear to the piping on both the drivers and passenger side.  The blue carpets are clean and unmarked in both the front and rear compartments. Being a limousine there is a glass partition between the passengers and the chauffeur that can be wound up or down from the rear compartment by means of a crank handle. You would imagine that the heavy glass would be hard to raise, but once near the top you can feel a cam connection and it stays beautifully in place –just magic!  There is an intercom so rear passengers can give instructions and driving tips to the chauffeur without lowering the glass.  The large door windows and the rear side windows all wind down which gives the interior an agreeable, airy feel, perfect for sightseeing! Upon close examination we noticed that the screw heads on the braided pull handles, the polished widow cranks and even the intercom microphone are all aligned.

In the drivers compartment the wooden fascia is smart and unmarked, with a smart, correct array of Rolls Royce instruments. The original Rolls Royce chassis plate is still in place, along with brass Park Ward coachbuilders plaques on all four sill plates. The headlining is taut and virtually unmarked.  To sum up the interior it can only be described as enchanting.

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The Exterior

In the 1920s it was customary for coach-built bodies to be hand painted and during the restoration this was the technique used. With faint brushstrokes evident under close inspection, the paintwork is as it would have been when first applied.  The attractive blue contrasts well with the black wings, running boards and wheels, all topped off with a correct black padded fabric roof.  The distinctive Rolls Royce grille with the Spirit of Ecstasy is as imposing as always, and it should be noted that the radiator grille bars on the 20HP model were horizontal rather than vertical as seen on all subsequent models – an easy way of identifying a 20HP.  The lighting fore and aft is all correct featuring multi lens running, brake and indicators at the rear.
There is a rear mounted luggage trunk complete with cover.  Inside is a bespoke set of 3 matching black suitcases, ready to be whisked directly to your room by the porter at the Savoy.

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The Mechanics

The same meticulous approach during the restoration has been applied under the bonnet and to the underside of the Rolls.  There is little to suggest that it has covered so many miles since the work was completed.  Again we suggest a look at the photographs of the engine will show the same high standard of workmanship.  With barely a mark to be seen the use of quality alloys gives the straight six engine the appearance similar to a piece of jewellery.  Unlike the Silver Ghost, the 20HP engine was a more modern design with a separate block and head, and was a much smaller capacity engine.  An upgrade to this particular Rolls Royce is an aluminium head which must certainly help with the weight.  The Rolls is said to drive beautifully, helped by another significant upgrade; an overdrive to give it better cruising ability.  According to Mr Moore the addition of the overdrive allows the Rolls to keep up with traffic over longer distances with barely a murmur from the engine.

There is nothing that looks out of place; the wiring and cables are all correct for the period, all look to be in excellent condition.

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The Appeal

Some say the disadvantage of early motor cars is they are not practical or reliable enough to use in modern traffic. We think that this Rolls Royce conquers that myth.  With regular use and maintenance it’s likely to offer incomparable reliability, and sufficient poke to hold its own on the road.  Having proved this ability in the hands of its owner for more than 50 years and thousands of miles I think you may struggle to disagree!  We think this Rolls Royce is an exceptional motor car that will not disappoint. 

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1928
  • Make Rolls Royce
  • Model 20HP Limousine
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 84,873 Miles
  • Engine size 3127
  • Location Hampshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
30 bids
  • jo•••• £45,000 21/10/21
  • ha•••• £42,500 21/10/21
  • da•••• £42,000 21/10/21
  • ha•••• £41,500 21/10/21
  • da•••• £41,000 21/10/21
  • ha•••• £40,100 21/10/21
  • da•••• £39,000 21/10/21
  • ha•••• £37,000 21/10/21
  • he•••• £36,750 21/10/21
  • pe•••• £36,000 21/10/21

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