Rolls-Royce 20hp Weyman Saloon - 1929
A patriotic 20 at home, ready for a Jubilee rally.
GEN 45, a 1929 Rolls-Royce 20hp Weymann Saloon
To start things off I will tell you something about this wonderful old car.
Chassis number GEN 45 was ordered by Commander Keller of Rolls-Royce dealers Paddon Brothers in March 1929.It had certain modifications so that it could be fitted with a special balanced instrument board. Keller commissioned James Young of Bromley to build a Weymann fabric saloon, this order followed an order for a slightly earlier chassis (GFN 71) with an HJ Mulliner Weymann body. This car also survives with its original body. The chassis was ordered with special black P100 continental headlamps, matt black vertical radiator shutters and wiring for a Grebel side spotlamp.
The complete car was sold to a London solicitor, Keith Barlow, and following two changes of owner in the 1930s it was sold again in September 1945 to the Daily Mirror. Their chairman used it for four years, covering 80,000 miles on the traffic free roads of post-war Britain. The chauffeur told Hugh Keller that the car frequently drove from London to Manchester to Southampton to London in 24 hours. Try doing that today!
Commander Keller was able to buy the 20 year old car through Mascot Motors in 1949, and he kept it for over 30 years. For much of this time it was used for the daily commute, while he continued to sell old Rolls-Royces for Paddon Brothers of Cheval Place off Knightsbridge. The car took part in the inaugural meetings of the 20Ghost club and the RREC. It appeared as the Marquis of Frinton’s second car in the Terrance Rattigan film ”The Yellow Rolls-Royce” and presumably after the “yellow” job was returned GEN 45 became his Lordship’s car again.
I first swathe car over 25 years ago when it was owned by Norman Gardner, and I was struck by its original appearance and great character. Many years later it was offered for sale by P & A Wood at a rather challenging price, and then by the Real Car Company. I decided to drive up to North Wales, arriving just one hour after they had received it. Although the car had its faults, one drive convinced me I had to have it.
Driving the car
Many say that the late 20hp was the best car that Henry Royce designed. It has a lightness and precision in its controls lacking in the 20/25 or the Derby Bentley. It manages to be both lively and slow at the same time. The driver must control the fuel mixture, the ignition, the radiator shutters and the charging manually, and yet it is not difficult to drive. Gear changing is easier than you might expect provided you are patient, and you can arrive after a 250 mile journey in quite a relaxed frame of mind. Any problems that you encounter are usually the result of modern car drivers who have no understanding of proper cars. With approaching a quarter of a million miles on the clock, GEN 45 still runs perfectly.
My longest run has been about 2000 miles on 20hp Register Grand Tour to Venice. She acquitted herself superbly well, crossing several of the highest Alpine passes in ambient temperatures exceeding 35 degrees centigrade without complaint. The only issue was on the Selvio pass which the rally climbed on ’International Motor Cycle Day’, in company with 10,000 motorbikes from across Europe. The pass reaches an elevation of 9,045ft via a total 48 hairpins, and many of these were tricky with bikes surrounding the cars.