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Lot 407: Rolls-Royce 20hp Saloon

Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams (19 June 2010)

Bodied originally in brougham style by the celebrated Parisian coachbuilder, Soautchik, chassis number 'GVO77' was supplied in 1929 to the order of Queen Rambhai Barni, wife of King Prajadhipok of Siam (Thailand). King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) was Thailand's last absolute monarch. He acceded to the throne in November 1925 following the death of his elder brother and in 1932 granted the country its first democratic constitution following a revolt by the People's Party. Educated in Britain and commissioned in the Royal Horse Artillery, Prajadhipok did not have a robust constitution and returned to this country in 1934 for medical treatment, bringing his wife and the Rolls-Royce with him. However, the idealistic Prajadhipok had become disillusioned with the machinations of the Assembly politicians back home and on 2nd March 1935 he abdicated while still in the UK. His changed circumstances necessitated a more frugal lifestyle so the Rolls-Royce was sold. Prajadhipok had a long-standing heart condition and died at Compton House, Wentworth, Surrey on 30th May 1941. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London in a quiet ceremony that went unrecorded by the press. His wife took his ashes with her when she returned to Thailand in 1949. There is a photograph on file of the King and Queen at the first degree ceremony of the Chulalongkorn University in 1930, which may show this car with its original bodywork by Saoutchik. First registered in the UK on 8th May 1935, 'GVO77' was re-bodied as a saloon by Cooper Motor Bodies, of Putney that same year and still has the fluted bonnet that was often a feature of cars that went overseas. The original logbook shows that from 1942 to 1978 the owners were Scottish and were (probably) a vicar, his widow, a doctor and a policeman. Happily, the car avoided the fate of being used as a taxi in Edinburgh, as many such were, and even prior to its restoration in the early 1980s had probably seen only careful use. (The mileage of 61,160 is believed correct). The owner at the time of restoration was a Mr Blair, who kept 'GVO77' until 2002 when it passed to a new owner. The latter did not register the Rolls in his name and had managed to lose the history file, which contained details of the restoration, before selling the car to the current vendor in June 2003, since when it has been kept in dehumidified storage. An appraisal carried out at that time identified plug leads in need of replacement and suggested that a bottom-end de-coke would be required before the car could be used with confidence. In addition, we are advised that one of the cylinders has low compression and thus the vehicle is sold strictly as viewed. The car comes with a wheel spanner and is offered with Swansea V5.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
Lot Number407
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£21000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£24150
Condition rating0
Registration numberARK 335
Chassis numberGVO77
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors4