19th Jun, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 1

1927 Rolls-Royce 20hp Union Motors Fabric Bodied Limousine
No Reserve

Sold for £13,500

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: JV 8336
Chassis No: GYK 63
MOT: Exempt

  • Presented in 'garage find' condition having not been seen publicly since the 1970s
  • Understood to be in exceptionally well preserved original order
  • Previously part of the James H. Farr collection
  • Believed to be the sole surviving example supplied with a body coachbuilt by Union Motor Company Ltd

Unveiled in 1922, the 20hp was a second string to the Rolls-Royce bow – a shorter, more economical sibling to the Silver Ghost which broadened the marque’s reach to span both the very rich and seriously wealthy. Instantly distinguished by its horizontal radiator shutters, the newcomer was constructed around a ladder-frame chassis of 129 inch wheelbase. Power came from a 3,127cc straight-six, OHV monobloc engine mated to a three-speed manual gearbox. Suspension was by semi-elliptic leaf springs all-round. Braking was initially on the rear wheels alone, while steering was by worm and nut. Progressively updated to feature a four-speed gearbox and servo-assisted all-wheel braking, the ‘baby’ Rolls remained in production until 1929, by when some 2,885 examples had vacated the company’s Derby factory. Lighter and more responsive than the Silver Ghost, the 20hp was capable of exceeding 60mph.

According to copies of the Rolls Royce chassis cards that are on file, chassis GYK 63 was ordered on 4th September 1926 and delivered to Rootes Limited of Devonshire House Piccadilly on 13th October. The order form states that Rootes were providing their own coachwork and the first private owner was to be Major E.J Burt of 18 Grosvenor Street, Mayfair. According to a letter on file from the RREC, the body Rootes chose for the car was one of only two fabric bodies crafted by the Union Motor Car Company of Debigh Street, Battersea to have been fitted to a Rolls Royce, and it is understood that GYK 63 is the sole survivor. GYK 63 was registered as 'JV 8336' in January 1927 when delivered which is pleasingly retained on the car to this day. Little is known of the history of the car from Major Burt's ownership until around the 1960s, when it was acquired by James H Farr for his private museum in Scotland. The car resided in the museum until the mid 1970s, when the collection was dispersed. Purchased by the current owner along with the 1908 Cadillac in this auction, the car was re-registered with the DVLA and used up until 1997 when it was placed into dry storage. An estimate on file suggests that the interior was retrimmed in 1989. Upon inspection, our impresson was of a surprisingly sound car with its unique fabric body having been preserved remarkably well. The 20hp is sold as a non-runner and we do not believe it has been fired into life for many a year, however, turning the crank handle shows that the engine is free. Sold requiring recommissioning or restoration, 'JV 8336' is surely deserving of a place in another collection.

For more information, please contact:
Lucas Gomersall
07484 082430


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 19th Jun, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

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