Parked In Drive: 1936 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Sedanca De Ville

Forest Casey
by Forest Casey
parked in drive 1936 rolls royce 20 25 sedanca de ville

Well, this is something I told myself I would never do: Report on a car without being completely certain of its lineage.

It’s a Rolls-Royce, of course. The triple lights at the front and twin side intake flaps indicate it’s a 25/30, one of the brand’s most iconic (and popular) models. The open roof over the driver’s seat indicates the Sedanca de Ville style, named for a Spanish count and Rolls-Royce distributor, Carlos de Salamanca. But the identity of the coachbuilder took me a while.

The era of coachbuilding that produced this rare Rolls was relatively brief – only about 50 years. With some notable exceptions, most firms that produced this quality of automotive customization were European, their skills learned from the era of horse-drawn carriages. While I might be corrected in the comments, I believe this Roller was customized by one of the oldest companies with a license to customize Rolls-Royces, the U.K.-based Windovers. If that’s true, it makes this a very rare Rolls, one of only three built in this style.

The car I spotted seemed to be lovingly used. I found it in a grocery store parking lot in Palm Springs on the first weekend of Coachella, which tells you the owner isn’t frightened of being stuck in unbearable traffic. It’s estimated that 70 percent of Rolls-Royce 25/30 models are still in use, a testament to their over-engineered build quality. Sadly, this one lacks the righteous-looking steel hood seen on a similar model, which sold recently for $119,000.

I know that’s an unapproachable sum for most, but it’s a pittance compared to what it would cost to bring home a modern Rolls-Royce.

Browsing the British classified ads for other 20/35 models reveals their prices are surprisingly reasonable. The most expensive car on the list is about what you would pay for a 2017 BMW 7 Series, the car on which the modern Rolls-Royce line is based. This 25/30 appears to be for sale somewhere in America for $21,500.

Why are these fabulous cars so inexpensive?

It could be that nobody wants to pay the inevitable repair bills, even if these models are reputably reliable. It could be the lack of snob appeal – the 25/30 was Rolls-Royce’s most popular to date, so there are a lot of them running around. The low price could be an indication the classic car bubble is destined to pop as the market shifts to serve younger generations of buyers. The same thing happens to nearly all classes of collectibles; even Elvis memorabilia is starting to lose value. Many of my fellow millennials have no connection to coachbuilt automobiles — let alone Winowers — if they have any interest in automobiles in the first place.

Yet, I can’t help but think the kind of person who drives around in a pink Ghost with a cartoon character on the side would gather the same amount of attention for a lot less money (and a lot more class) by buying an old-school Rolls-Royce like this one. And with the money they’d save, they could employ a chauffeur, and not even need to worry that it’s right-hand-drive. What do you think?

[Images: © 2017 Forest Casey]

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3 of 29 comments
  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on May 17, 2017

    Why are such cars so cheap? Because almost no one today can drive them. Manual transmissions exclude about 80% of Americans, and this one doesn't even have synchromesh on low gear. Non-power steering also excludes about 80%. No A/C excludes about 98%, so that doesn't leave very many potential buyers.

    • Jagboi Jagboi on May 17, 2017

      No syncro on 1 and 2, only 3&4. It's a RHD car and the shift lever is to the right as well, not in the center of the car. At least it has 4 wheel brakes, earlier cars were drums on the rear only.

  • Detroit-Iron Detroit-Iron on May 19, 2017

    The generation of people who knew what Doozies and Packards are has already passed. At least some of those cars can stand on their merits. If I had limitless funds I would short muscle cars.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.