Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Barker & Co.
The 1933 Paris Auto Salon Car
The Rolls-Royce 20/25 chassis offered refined motoring, and a glowing 1931 review by Autocar pronounced the model to be “on a plane altogether superior to the normal style of motor car.” For a coachbuilder approaching the upcoming season of international auto exhibitions, the 20/25 also offered a prestigious and proven chassis upon which the latest styles in coachwork could be created for the admiration of the many visitors to the exhibitions.
Barker & Co., the London coachbuilding firm favored with many commissions from the British Royal Family, ordered this chassis on June 30, 1933, with delivery guaranteed by the first week of September, as indicated by the original Rolls-Royce chassis build card. Dispatched on August 25, 1933, GTZ 48 was delivered to Barker three days later, and the coachbuilder fashioned a particularly elegant body for presentation at the Paris Salon using many of the styling elements normally associated with Vanvooren, the famous Parisian coachbuilder. The very slim windscreen pillars, leather-covered dashboard and alloy cappings to the dashboard and doors are particularly notable.
The drophead top is adjustable to three different positions and ingeniously engineered to recline to a flush position when fully open, giving GTZ 48 a memorably sleek profile. Barker’s design for the coachwork was just as compelling, with elaborately flowing lines with sweeping fenders and a delicate dip at the rear of the body to accommodate the reclining top. The design is tremendously sophisticated.
The sensational coachwork, which is believed to be one-off, debuted at Barker’s stand at the Paris Salon on October 5, 1933, and remained on display for the following 10 days. Following the exhibition’s conclusion, the car was sold on November 1st to its first private owner, Captain Francis Purchas of Steyning, Sussex, an officer of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers whose name is engraved on the base of the original Spirit of Ecstasy mascot.
GTZ 48 was purchased circa 1975 by Jim Denne, the proprietor of West Hoathly Garage in Sussex, in completely original condition, including paintwork and hood. It took the next owner, a very private collector with an extensive collection including a D-type Jaguar, several years to persuade Mr. Denne to part with it. Upon his purchase, he commissioned Mr. Denne to service the car and fit an overdrive for relaxed touring at highway speeds. It was also resprayed and fitted with a new hood during his ownership and taken to the Continent for tours. Upon his death in 1995, his widow retained GTZ 48 while disposing of the rest of the collection. Only in 2005 did she part with the car.
Acquired at that time by the consignor, a New York-based collector who has kept the car in England for use on holiday, the Rolls-Royce was comprehensively serviced and cosmetically restored by P&A Wood of Essex, England, who commented upon the extraordinary originality. They gave the 20/25 a bare-metal respray in its original black with much attention paid to having the deep luster of the paintwork match that of period cellulose paint. At the same time all of the brightwork was restored to original, and the much-respected Brian Frost re-trimmed the hood to its original specifications. The stunning, original upholstery and carpets were, of course, retained. Paul and Andrew Wood’s internationally acclaimed restoration company has, since 1967, restored many of the most important Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars in the world, including AX201, the original Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and numerous prize winners at Pebble Beach and other important concours. They are Rolls-Royce’s sole heritage dealer worldwide.
GTZ 48 is accompanied by a detailed file of all the work performed by P&A Wood, copies of the original chassis cards, owner’s handbook, complete large and small tool kits, and Barker’s original photographs of the car for the 1933 Paris Salon. This exceptionally beautiful 20/25 is as fine an example of the model as any to be found.