Introduced in 1936, the Rolls-Royce 25/30 HP was a direct replacement for the 20/25. While smaller and more sporting than the flagship Phantom, the 25/30 HP was by no means an “entry-level” Rolls-Royce. It featured much of the same technology and engineering excellence found on the larger Phantoms, but scaled-down for improved maneuverability and more nimble handling. The new 25/30 featured numerous refinements to the powertrain and chassis intended to address customer feedback regarding the performance (or relative lack thereof) of the 20/25. Most notable was a significant bump in displacement from 3.7-liters to 4.25-liters. The overhead-valve inline-six featured a seven main-bearing crankshaft to ensure refinement and durability. Better brakes, improved suspension, and stiffer chassis were all part of the extensive redesign. While there was no doubt to its superiority, the model was short-lived, and Rolls-Royce sold approximately 1,200 examples of the 25/30 before the arrival of the entirely new Wraith in 1938.
Following standard practice, Rolls-Royce offered the 25/30 as a chassis only, leaving the choice of design and coachbuilder up to the selling dealer or private customer. Styles were as varied as the tastes of individual buyers, ranging from sporty dropheads to formal limousines. J. Gurney Nutting took advantage of the versatile 25/30 platform and continued their tradition of creating supremely stylish and impeccably crafted bodies. From the company’s base in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood of London, Gurney Nutting’s lead designer A.F. McNeil created some of the most memorable and breathtaking designs of the 1920s and 30s, fitted to prestigious chassis including Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Daimler, and others.
The talents of J. Gurney Nutting are none more apparent than on this supremely handsome 25/30 four-door Sedanca de Ville, chassis number GRP18. According to factory production records, this long-wheelbase 25/30 arrived at Gurney Nutting’s Chelsea workshop on the 1st of July, 1937, where work commenced on the fabulous coachwork. Inspiration for the body came from a similar design used on a Phantom III, but exquisitely reproportioned for the smaller 25/30 chassis. After completing the coachwork, Gurney Nutting shipped the car to famed dealer H.R. Owen, and with war looming, it remained in their stock for several years, serving as a company demonstrator until its first private sale in July 1945. A letter from Rolls-Royce dated March 1967, lists the first private owner as Mr. F. Roberts of Manchester, England. The British registration booklet picks up in 1962, in the ownership of R. C. Bunn, followed by W.B. Carter of Huntingdon in 1966. Carter owned the car for a short time before selling it to its last long-term caretaker in 1968.
At the time of the sale, GRP18 made its way to the USA, where it joined an extensive collection of significant Rolls-Royce and other fine classic-era motorcars. It was in primarily original, and well-maintained order and the owners regularly enjoyed the car on family outings and took advantage of its graceful formal lines by using it in the occasional wedding. After many years of faithful service, GRP18 received an extensive and well-detailed restoration. Following the project, GRP18 returned to its regular role in the collection, racking up numerous accolades in shows and club events, including the Hooper Trophy from the Rolls Royce Owners’ Club and the Formal Town Car Award at the CCCA Museum’s Formal Car Experience in 1990.
In the care of the same family since 1968, GRP18 continued to collect awards through the early 2000s. It proved a faithful steed in numerous tours and casual drives and enjoyed consistent, expert maintenance along the way. It remains in marvelous condition today, with a light, honest patina acquired through years on-road service. The two-tone livery of black and maroon provides a lovely complement to the superb styling. While this is technically a formal design, the low roofline, gracefully swept fenders, and close-coupled rear treatment give the car a decidedly sporting edge that is unmistakably the work of Gurney Nutting. Fittings include dual side-mount spares, color-keyed wheel discs, a trunk, removable roof panel, proper Lucas lamps, and a kneeling lady mascot as specified on the build order. The interior trim, woodwork, and fittings are all in superb condition, displaying a beautiful character that suits this car’s user-friendly nature.
The 4.25-liter inline-six is the original, numbers-matching unit per the build sheets, presented in excellent cosmetic condition with authentic details, fittings, and an honest appeal from years of use and maintenance. It remains a well-sorted car mechanically, and is the ideal candidate for long-distance touring, with the refinement and respectable performance expected of six-cylinder Rolls-Royce, delivered in an understated and refined manner.
Accompanying the sale is a substantial history file documenting the car’s story back to its factory production records, photos of it as-purchased in the 1960s, and subsequent restoration. Benefitting from more than five decades of single-family ownership, GRP18 is a superb example of this rare breed with immeasurably attractive coachwork by one of Britain’s most revered coachbuilders.
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