Built between 1929 and 1936, the Rolls-Royce 20/25 is undeniably one of the finest cars ever put into production. The 20/25 succeeded the 20 hp as Rolls-Royce’s ‘small car’ which was originally targeted at owner-drivers rather than people with chauffeurs.
Due to its stunningly beautiful looks, the 20/25 has had an everlasting place in popular culture, appearing in numerous films including everything from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) through to The League of Gentlemen (1959).
One thing that certainly makes the 20/25 unique in comparison to a modern day Rolls-Royce is that as with all pre-war Rolls-Royces, the company built the chassis complete with the classic radiator and its ‘Spirit of Ecstacy’ mascot. The purchaser would select the body style from one of a range of coachbuilders – this example is equipped with a stunning Barker saloon. Other contemporary coachbuilders included Park Ward, Hoopers, James Young, Windovers, Thrupp&Maberly, H J Mulliner and many more. As a result, pretty much every 20/25 is unique.
In terms of engineering, the 20/25 wasn’t hugely dissimilar to its predecessor, and it boasted a similar 6-cylinder overhead-valve engine under the bonnet. In the 20/25, however, this engine was enlarged to 3699 cc, with the bore increased from 76 mm to 82 mm in the process.
Alongside this, a single Rolls-Royce carburetor was used, with both coil and magneto ignition fitted. Later models such as this one were equipped with a constant-velocity SU-type carburettor, known colloquially as a ‘cats-back’. In terms of gears, the 20/25 hosted a four-speed gear box which was upgraded on the later models to include synchromesh on third and top gears (1932 onwards). The 20/25 also boasts the Rolls-Royce patented mechanical brake servo which makes for effortless and effective braking.
This increased engine size allowed the top speed of the car to increase to 75 mph; a considerable speed for the 1930s.
In terms of the interior, despite being branded as a car suitable for owner-drivers, many were nevertheless intended to be chauffeured and several were equipped with limousine bodies. This Barker saloon may also have originally been intended to be driven by a chauffeur and the rear styling of the interior shows just why. It’s equipped with companions that include drinks holders and decanters , allowing the owner to travel in considerable comfort and style.
As you’d expect from any car with the luxury of a Rolls-Royce, the interior is bathed in leather and solid wood, with West of England cloth headlining and thick carpets – creating a vehicle that really does make a statement. It’s as classy and stylish today as it was when it was first carefully built.
This particular model, built in 1934, must be one of the finest examples of the 20/25 in the UK. With a Claret red exterior and only 87,000 miles on the clock, it is as pristine as when it first rolled out of Barker’s workshops. Only 3,827 20/25s were ever made, and you’re unlikely to encounter another quite like this, so check out the full listing here today.