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Car of the Month - October 99
Rolls-Royce 20 H.P., 1926, #GOK74,
Skiff by Roger Fry

Rolls-Royce 20 H.P., Skiff by Roger Fry

The launch of the Rolls-Royce 20 H.P. in 1922 was a reaction to altered market conditions after the Great War. The magnificent Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost had achieved fame as “the best car in the world” and remained the company’s top model. However considerable demand for a smaller automobile had been acknowledged, for a car suitable for owner drivers and not to be driven by chauffeurs. The Twenty with its characteristic horizontal radiator slatters was powered by an engine of but three litres capacity. The chassis was appropriately dimensioned to the smaller engine - and the price was clearly lower than the Silver Ghost’s.

The standard of quality was the vital area, were no difference had been allowed between both models. The company philosophy of extreme care in construction, permanent control of material combined with the strict order not to accept any changes prior to these having been tested again and again resulted in the “small” Rolls-Royce 20 H.P. to gain acceptance with the most demanding customers. F. Henry Royce the company’s chief engineer had pointed out clearly that the first object had been reliability.

Rolls-Royce 20 H.P., Skiff by Roger Fry

Rolls-Royce 20 H.P., Skiff by Roger Fry

The Twenty shown here bears testimony that the manufacturer had succeeded in building a motor car of exceptional quality. More than 70 years after having been originally delivered the car is still in top condition. The original tourer coachwork had been substituted by another body sometimes during the 30ies and that body was taken off and the Skiff body, made in Australia, mounted. - But chassis and drivetrain don’t show signs of age. The photos actually were made when the 20 H.P. was used by its present owner to tour Europe; in the meantime the car returned to downunder.

A highly skilled coachbuilder on the 5th Continent has tailored the fine Skiff body exactly to order. The light and sporty coachwork does offer space for driver and three passengers. Rear seat passengers are protected by a hinged deck and rear auster screen. No exaggeration as regards the boot’s capacity can be noted. Once the detachable hood has been stowed, with hood irons and hinges neatly fitting into a special compartment above the running board, and the side curtains have been sorted into a tailored wooden box and that one been placed in the boot there remains only sufficient space for the most elementary: first aid kit, warning triangle, four silver goblets and a bottle of Chivas Regal...

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