1923 Rolls-Royce 20HP Barker ‘open-drive’ Limousine
Chassis No 53S4
The 20HP was introduced in the early 1920s to provide a smaller less expensive car suited to the needs of the owner-driver. The car was noticeably smaller than a Silver Ghost in every respect, with an engine that was half the size, a chassis and body two feet shorter overall and the weight reduced by about half a ton.
The car was an immediate success and attracted a different type of driver becoming particularly popular with the professional classes such as doctors and lawyers, giving them a very reliable and distinguished car in which to call on their clients, without the ostentation of a Silver Ghost or Phantom 1.
Compared to other Rolls-Royce, the first impression of a 20HP is of delicacy and lightness. Early cars, in particular, have narrow wheels and tyres and Rolls-Royce made great efforts to persuade coachbuilders to give the car comfortable but light coachwork. As with the larger cars, a great variety of coachwork was available from lightweight two-seaters to quite capacious limousines often built using Weyman fabric bodies to keep the weight down.
Fiennes Showroom are delighted to present this very rare, 20HP believed to be one of the last surviving examples of a Barker ‘open drive’ limousine still carrying its original body.
This delightful example, 53S4, dates from 1923 and proudly wears its original Barker open-drive, limousine coachwork. It features in John Fasal’s authoritative tome “The Rolls-Royce 20” on page 143 and is referenced as being supplied in May 1923 to British newspaper publisher, Sir Neville Pearson 2nd Baronet.
It’s finished in Gloss Black over Light Yellow coachwork, with black leather and presents itself very well after 98 years. The car is powered by the smooth, 3.4-litre straight-six mated to the centre floor-mounted 3-speed gearbox which both perform beautifully demonstrating a high level of maintenance throughout the years. The chassis has rigid front and rear axles suspended by semi-elliptic leaf springs fitted with leather "Wefco" gaiters and as four-wheel brakes didn’t appear until 1925, this earlier car has rear brakes only. The famous Rolls-Royce radiator is without slats, giving this superb example the look of a ‘Baby Ghost.’
The body is in very good condition and retains all of the original Barker features including the large oval rear window and curved rear window line offering lots of light in the rear. Designed to be chauffeur-driven, there is a sliding glass screen in the partition and the black leather in the front is gently patinated as you might expect with the driver’s seat used more often than the rear which is in very good condition with an excellent headliner and comfortable seating.
53S4 is, in fact, a bit of a TV celebrity having featured in several episodes of Agatha Christie’s ‘Mousetrap’ and ‘Worzel Gummidge’.
Ii’s supplied with the factory build records, V5 etc. and we welcome any inspection of this lovely 20HP.