1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Gurney Nutting Coupe

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. The extensive redesign included better brakes, improved suspension, and stiffer chassis. While there was no doubt about 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, and the adaptable 25/30 chassis served as an excellent basis for a wide variety of uses, of which J. Gurney Nutting took full advantage, 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 penned some of the most memorable and breathtaking designs of the 1920s and 30s, making their mark with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Daimler, and others.

The talents of J. Gurney Nutting are none more apparent than on this supremely handsome 25/30 HP streamlined coupe, chassis number GUL 80. This gorgeous automobile has been enjoyed to the fullest by a series of passionate, enthusiastic custodians, and it is offered in excellent condition with a matured, high-quality restoration that welcomes regular use. Rolls-Royce production records on file reveal GUL 80’s fascinating history. Allied Motors Limited of Bombay, India, ordered a new 25/30 for stock, specifying 2-door Close-Coupled Light Coupe coachwork by Gurney Nutting, design number 185. The gorgeous and sporty coupe was finished in black & grey with green upholstery and equipped with Ace wheel discs, a sunroof, an enclosed spare wheel, a Lucas fog lamp, dual wipers, and more. After delivery to India via the SS Soudan, GUL 80 was used as a dealer demonstrator for Allied Motors, during which time it appeared in Indian advertisements and brochures and was believed to have been loaned to or sold to the Maharaja of Kotah, Sir Umed Singh II. By 1939, GUL 80 traveled back to England, purchased by Capt. C. N. Hague, of Castle Dyke, Sheffield. Capt. Hague was the first long-term owner, keeping the handsome and sporty coupe in his care until 1953.

In 1958, Mr. John Warne of Halifax, England, discovered the beautiful coupe sitting on a used car lot. He immediately fell in love with its flowing and purposeful design and employed it as his primary transport for several years. Warne reluctantly parted with GUL 80 around 1963 when his job required the services of something more fuel efficient. The car remained in the UK through 1974, when it went to a new owner in California, staying there until 1994 when it returned to England.

In 2001, a Finnish enthusiast named Stig E. Fagerstedt had been on the hunt for a 25/30 to restore. After inspecting and rejecting several candidates, he stumbled upon GUL 80 in the classifieds, and while a bit out of his budget, and he was taken by the car’s stunning lines and fascinating detail. The car was offered as a running/driving project, with a rebuilt chassis but needing extensive structural woodwork and metalwork. When another buyer backed out, Fagerstedt was elated to be offered the car and was soon loading it up for the long drive home to Finland.

Fagerstedt found the interior woodwork had been restored in the 1980s by Don Steinert of Grants Pass, Oregon, and the interior had new red leather around the same time and had all been carefully preserved in excellent order. An exhaustive, meticulously documented restoration followed, with the bulk of the work completed by 2003. Stig later discovered an issue lurking in the depths of the engine, necessitating a complete tear-down and rebuild in the spring of 2003. Undaunted, he completed the rebuild in his home workshop, documenting every step of the process. Stig Fagerstedt’s passion and skill resulted in a gorgeous, well-sorted, and competent car brimming with character. Eight volumes of records and correspondence accompany it, along with a hardbound book highlighting key points of the history and restoration.

In the most recent owner’s care, the GUL 80 participated in the 2020 21 Gun Salute Concours d’Elegance and Rally in India, marking its first return to the Asian continent since the late 1930s. After successfully completing the 4,000km rally with barely a hitch (fully documented in an accompanying book), it returned home to North America and has since been maintained in excellent order. Marvelous details abound, from the original style Ace wheel discs to the functional sunroof and a fully restored factory tool kit nestled inside the boot lid. While the restoration has matured with use and age, the car remains deeply appealing and highly attractive. It is a fabulous car to use on tours and rallies, while its striking good looks are still worthy of turning heads in casual show events.

Elegant, sporting, and rich with captivating history, GUL 80 is an eminently desirable Rolls-Royce certain to delight any marque enthusiast.


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