Having been let down at the last minute, the chaps at Jaguar World found themselves without a Jaguar 420 to be a photographic model in their spread on the 50th anniversary of the car. Doug was contacted to source a replacement, so “who’s he gonna call…?”
A few phone calls ensued resulted in a rendezvous with Executive Editor, Jim Patten, being arranged at the Hare which coincided with the monthly Breakfast Meet. The weather was, for once, seasonally fine although the turnout did not reflect this. As always, some interesting machinery did arrive including a Ferrari 308, Lotus Elan, Sunbeam Tiger, Vauxhall 4/90, Ford Thunderbird and a gorgeous 1953 Series 62 Cadillac Coupe in white which must be the best I have ever seen. Maybe more of this another time.
Whilst waiting for Jim to arrive, I took some time to talk to Ian Dewsnap, Director of European and UK Operations of Benchmark Consulting International, a financial services professional but with automotive manufacture experience. Attendees will know him since he is often seen dressed in a red hi-vis tabard in the car park managing the entries on the day. But on this occasion he brought along his 1938 Rolls Royce 20/25 Sports Saloon. A very nice example too. So what of its history? Read on…
16.07.1934 – Chassis ordered through The Car Mart, Park Lane by Clifford Henry Benn Kitchen, a barrister, stockbroker, author and chess player for the sum of £850:7s:8d (including a 20% discount). That’s around £54,834 in today’s money or so my calculator says. As an aside, Mr Kitchen wrote crime novels with the gentleman “toff” detective of the formula favoured in the day. Ian has tracked down a first edition of one of his books written that year.
30.09.1934 – Chassis delivered to London coach builder Freestone & Webb to receive its body. F&W had been in business since 1923. Based in Brentfield Road, North London they produced bodies for the major quality car companies including Rolls Royce, Bentley, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Packard and Bugatti. They developed a style to be known as “Top Hat” and also “Razor Edge”. They did swooping bodies for Bentleys in the fifties, but with more car makers offering in-house bodies after the war, business suffered and the company was taken over by the Swain group in 1957, who then sold it on in 1963. Extras fitted to this car were a second spare wheel (£4 14s) and second spare Dunlop tyre (£4 13s 6d), Lucas P100 headlamps with electric dipping (£21 0s 0d with 25% discount) and a 15% discounted Mascot at £3 17s 6d.
The vehicle was subsequently sold in 1937, to a J W Rains who had new pistons fitted by the works in 1939. He kept the car until 1952 when it was sold to a colonel in Plymouth.
Tompkinson’s Carpets became the fourth owner in 1955 and were followed in 1958 by a Mr Howarth of Sussex and Cheshire, a consulting engineer who wrote books on high speed diesel engines.
More recently, in 1985, it was offered at Christies with a sale guide of £6-8,000. Later that year it was purchased by a veterinary surgeon, Mr J Clewlow for £14,900 and was fully rebuilt by him for approximately £58,000. In 2002 it was sold directly to L C Wills of Somerset before being acquired by Ian.
For those technically minded, the 20/25 used a 3,669 cc 6 cylinder engine, a bored and stroked version of that used in the superseded 20 hp model. It was Rolls Royce’s “small car” intended to appeal to owner drivers. Built between 1929 and 1936, 3,827 examples were produced before the 25/30 replaced it. It uses a single carburettor with a four speed gearbox with synchromesh on third and top (from 1932).
There appear to be quite a few still around and several have appeared in films such as The League of Gentlemen (1959), Dad’s Army as the Captain’s Car, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Remains of the Day (1993) and Enigma (2001).
Ian’s car comes with a complete toolkit and original documentation.
Jim and his wife, Karen, arrived mid-morning in their E Type roadster. A beautiful series 1 ½ which brought the total to four, including Bob King’s coupe and Chris White’s roadster. Doubtful whether we outnumbered the Porches, though.
After coffee and Danishes and a good look round, we adjourned to a neighbouring farm for the photoshoot. The vivid blue sky peppered with those cotton wool like cumulous clouds did, I think, complement the car. I’ll let you decide – the magazine should be out sometime soon.