15th Mar, 2023 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 118

1924 Rolls-Royce 20hp Park Ward Cabriolet

Sold for £13,500

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: PM 5453
Chassis No: GAK46
MOT: Exempt

  • Chassis fully restored
  • Body part-completed
  • Original engine plus a spare engine
  • Engine and running gear complete and ready for re-assembly
  • Many spare parts and tools included in the sale
  • Large history file present

Unveiled in 1922, the 20hp was a second string to the Rolls-Royce bow - a smaller, 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 with a 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 left the company’s Derby factory. Lighter and more responsive than the Silver Ghost, the 20hp was capable of exceeding 60mph.

The car offered for sale here is a Rolls-Royce 20hp Park Ward Cabriolet, registered ‘PM 5453’, which was first purchased in 1924 by William Chater Lea. Copies of the original build sheets form 1924 show this was chassis no. GAK 46 and engine no. G846. The Rolls-Royce went on to have the coachwork completed with a Park Ward Cabriolet body prior to delivery to the Chater Lea company address at 74-84 Banner Street, London, which still bears the company’s name. Chater-Lea was a British bicycle, car and motorcycle maker the City of London. It was founded by William Chater-Lea in 1890 to make bicycle frames and components and manufactured cars between 1907 and 1922 and motorcycles from 1903 to 1935. Following the death of William Chater Lea in 1927 the Rolls-Royce stayed in the family and was driven by William’s son Bernard Chater Lea, which can be seen in the photo taken outside a hotel in Harrogate in 1927. Following the purchase of a new car by Bernard in 1934 the Rolls-Royce was then used for several later years by Bernard’s Mother, Williams Chater Lea’s widow, until it was gifted to the Chauffeur / Gardener when she moved to a smaller house. The documented history of GAK46 is unknown after the vehicle being gifted to Mrs Chater Lea’s chauffeur. In 1967 Commander E.D Woolley of Fairford, Gloucestershire recovered a Rolls-Royce 20hp which he believed to be ‘PM 5453’. Documents form East Sussex County Council in 1967 confirmed that Edward Woolley had actually recovered the Rolls-Royce registered ‘PM 5453’ but the engine G846 and the gearbox were missing. Edward Woolley who was born in 1910 and reached the rank of Commander in the British Army. Commander Woolley was awarded 6 medals during his service in World War 2 which included two George Medals whilst serving as a Lieutenant and is a published author documenting his time during the war.

The Rolls-Royce ‘PM 5453’ (chassis no. GAK46) is pictured on page 437 of John Fasel’s book ‘Rolls-Royce Twenty’ and is shown to have suffered fire damage. The date of the fire is unknown but it is believed this is how Commander Edward Woolley recovered the vehicle. On page 437 of Mr Fasel’s book, it shows GAK46, Williams Chater Leas original Rolls Royce being inspected by Patrick Kane-White who was the former president of the Rolls Royce Owners Club in Australia on his visit to England in 1968. In the 1980s Mr Eric W. Hillyard purchased a 1927 Rolls Royce 20hp dismantled chassis with an earlier 1924 20hp engine from a Mr Marquis of Lancashire. Mr Hillyard rebuilt the 1927 chassis with period correct 1927 engine and kept the earlier 1924 (G864) engine to one side within his spares. In 1990 Mr Hillyard then purchased another Rolls-Royce 20hp rolling chassis with some bodywork still intact, this being chassis no. GAK46 from Mr Keith Bowley of Wiltshire. It was then that came Mr Hillyard realised had reunited the engine G864 and chassis GAK46 from the original car purchased by William Chater Lea in 1924. In 1990 both the engine and chassis of Mr Chater Lea’s car was sold to an enthusiast and restorer in Cheshire. The Rolls-Royce 20hp was going to be restored to its former glory using original part where possible. Michael Worthington-Williams of ‘The Automobile’ wanted to cover the restoration in his ‘Finds and Discoveries’ column within the magazine displaying current photographs alongside photographs from the Chater Lea Album.

Today, the chassis is in a restored state with a mixture of original with new coachwork, this being completed to a very high standard. The engine and running gear is complete and ready for re-assembly this includes a reconditioned head and engine internals and an untested but original gearbox. There are numerous spares included in the sale as a result of a lifetime of collecting including gasket sets and original Rolls-Royce tools. Also included are the many correspondences, including some with the Cater Lea family and various communications regarding the car, backing up the provenance along with photos and other rare memorabilia and technical drawings. Worth noting as well, the records for the car have survived and are held in the County Archives located in Lewes. Sussex.

Below is a list of just some of the parts with the sale (not everything is listed)

Engine block – no G190 (not original but included)

Engine block – no G864 (original to the car)

Rocker covers x 2

Cylinder liner

Brand new cylinder head

Engine sumps x 2

Starter motors x 6

Flywheels and clutch parts

Various pistons and con rods


Engine gearbox

Fuel tank


Exhaust manifold

Inlet manifold

Various head gaskets

Crank shaft

New remanufactured exhaust

Boxes of various engine parts

Various under-tray clips

Wooden storage boxes – 2 x remanufactured and 1 old

Various valve springs

Box of valve caps

Engine covers x 2

Selection of headlights

Steering column

Various leather straps and buckles

Spare wire wheel


Vehicle under-tray

Box of various brake springs

Steering wheel


Box of various bulbs

…..And several other boxes of 20hp parts

For more information, please contact:
Julian Pinkster
07889 223 904


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 15th Mar, 2023

Established in 1993, H&H has sold some of the world's most significant motorcars and motorcycles over the past 30 years. Trusted by over 75,000 clients worldwide, we are the longest established auction house of our kind in Europe. 

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

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Tuesday 14th March 2023, from 12pm to 6pm
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