By on May 17, 2017

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

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.

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 rear, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

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.

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Spirit of Ecstasy, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

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?

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Front, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

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.

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Steering Wheel, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

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?

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 vs. Ghost, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

[Images: © 2017 Forest Casey]

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29 Comments on “Parked In Drive: 1936 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Sedanca de Ville...”

  • avatar

    BTW the original meaning of brougham was that the drivers area was open and the passengers were enclosed.

    One of the two Rolls pictured is stately and dignified, the other belongs in a rap video.

    • 0 avatar

      “the other belongs in a rap video.”

      You would think with eleventy billion dollars, low volume, and a captive audience, styling would be more tasteful and distinctive. I don’t mean the specific example I mean the Phantom in general.

      • 0 avatar

        Have modern Rolls Royce sedans ever been truly “beautiful”? I’d answer that question with a resounding “no”.

        The Ghost is actually my pick of the current litter.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t think any of the Rolls Royces have looked good since they stopped being British owned. Everything after circa 2000 has looked ugly. Certainly not as timeless as a Silver Shadow/Corniche.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            They weren’t all that pretty by the mid ’80s. Think of the Silver Spur / Bentley Eight.

            I like them because they’re large and square and British. But they’re not pretty.

        • 0 avatar

          I think Cadillac and especially Rolls Royce lost the plot when the jellybean revolution occurred in the mid-1980s to 1990s. Their upright, stately designs simply did not translate well to a streamline shape; either they look dated like Cadillacs did, or an odd fusion of old world design features and a streamline shape, like this Ghost.

          Both Jaguar and Mercedes made the transition better because their basic designs were more rounded to start with; the Mercedes grill lead itself well to be rounded and flattened over time while still retaining a Mercedes look.

          If I was a designer, I don’t know that I could do any better. Rolls and Cadillacs with their upright styling and huge engines were just symbols of a different era; trying to bring them forward to the 21st century results in something silly looking like this.

          • 0 avatar

            Great points – I barely mentioned the most ostentatious feature of the classic Rolls: The chauffeur.

            Essentially, the de Ville style was primarily to show off the fact that you could afford to hire a dedicated driver to shuttle you around town. Today, this display of wealth would be pretty silly – imagine rolling up next to this 25/30 and seeing a man wearing white gloves and a top hat at the wheel. More likely, this Rolls owner is driving himself.

            Ironically, due to ride sharing apps, most of us can and do employ short-term contract labor to take us around town. Maybe it’s because of the cars they use or the temporary nature of it, but hiring a driver doesn’t quite carry the snob appeal it once did.

  • avatar

    This Rolller is the an epitome on craftsmanship, design, machining, sophistication and class. For those who have not driven a big car of this vintage, you need a chauffeur. Driving this Roller is a workout. Ridding in the back is a dream. Yes, it would fulfill a fantasy to chauffeur this automobile.

    The pink abomination, is hodious. It exposes the differences in what our current society projects as the epitome of excellence and what the rich project as success. This is the result of a no work, debt slave, no morals uneducated. This is 1920s v. 2017. Complete Garbage.

    • 0 avatar

      Being rich doesn’t mean you have good taste. That’s been true for a long, long time.

      (Look no further than the former home of the sitting president for proof.)

      • 0 avatar

        As much as I am a Trump fan, supporter etc.. I’ll have to agree, his taste is over the top for me in terms of home decor and limousines. However, considering our former Prez’ friends and celebrity hang arounds, The Pink Rolls Royce with the Cartoon character on the door appeals to the Jay Z, Beyoncé and Antifa crowd. ( Antifa would be setting it alight)

        • 0 avatar

          My real question is this – ninety years after its debut, about 70% of the 25/30 models are still on the road. Even with advances in modern technology, I wonder how many Ghosts and Phantoms will still be on the road in 2090…

          • 0 avatar

            I think we all know the answer to that one. The 25/30s were way simpler in design, easier to maintain, and did not have any plastics or electronics that would fail in a couple of decades at the most without any source of replacement. Today’s cars, no matter how much the cost, are designed to be a throwaway commodity, this Rolls Royce was built to last forever if desired.

  • avatar

    I’d rather have a Cadillac.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I love the coach built cars of the 20’s – 30’s. My dream car is a Duesenberg, just so I could tell the family I was headed in to the grocery store and I believe I will take the Duesenberg with a cockney accent…..

    The art of coach built cars still exists, it has morphed to resto modding 50’s – 70’s mostly muscle cars but some started as fairly pedestrian off the rack models. My 57′ 210 would be a good example of a pedestrian model.

    As for the modern Rolls. Honestly, other than obscene amounts of cash for the entry fee, what do you get in terms of luxury that Lexus, Merc, BMW, or even Cadillac can’t give you? All but Lexus have over the top HP offerings in there lux line up to compete with Rolls. Who would have thought an AMG would be could be understated wealth?

    • 0 avatar

      It seems like Bentley and Rolls gives you a greater degree of customization compared to the next level down.

      • 0 avatar

        Great point – and it’s always been this way. The coahcbuilt era appeals to me especially because Bentley and Rolls were essentially in the chassis + powertrain business. The coachbuilders offered practically unlimited customization options based on the whims of their clients. Every car was essentially a true one-off.

        Certainly a bit different than these days, when a Phantom owner in L.A. is likely to run into a fellow Phantom owner on the way to work. The righteous indignation they must feel when they realize their car is more or less identical to the one in the next lane…

        • 0 avatar

          I prefer Bentleys to Rolls-Royces. Give me a late 40’s – mid-50’s R Type Fastback Coupe by HJ Mulliner and I would be quite happy. No chance of anyone turning their nose up at that!

          For modern-day Bentleys, I’d take the second generation Bentley Brooklands. While it’s squared off, it is masculine, long and sleek. It reminds me of a MBZ CL series in a way. An executive class coupe if there ever was one.

          Or….and Forest will back me up on this….a 1929 duPont Model G Speedster would be lovely too. Just don’t drive it at night unless you have the lit Lalique radiator mascot to help light your way. Right Forest??? (LOL)

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        ajla: I would agree that you do have the customization opportunity. But, how may RR & Bentley are ordered by the customer versus the sales manager of the dealership. I would argue the later anymore. They want to move metal just like everyone else. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of the owners of said vehicles want to be seen in their new RR today, not 6 months from now after it has been built. So, in the end you have RR optioned very similar to a S500.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    What a find. I would be terrified to take it out in southern California traffic.

    The more expensive of the two linked classifieds is interesting, chronicling the pedigree of the car and the social status of its owners via their connection to the monarchy. How very British.

  • avatar

    That photo reminds me of the movie, The Yellow Rolls Royce, from the ’60s. Good film as I recall. Less about the car itself than about the people who rode in it over the course of some 30-40 years.

  • avatar

    Does that old Rolls have air?

    I don’t care how luxurious a car is. If a driver or passenger won’t be comfortable in a car on a warm day, it doesn’t matter what you drive – it’s HOT!

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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.

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