The Rolls-Royce Twenty, introduced in 1922, was a major move for the Company, since it represented the first new model since the great Silver Ghost went into production in 1907. Still with the same world-beating standard of engineering quality as the Ghost, the model was smaller and more manoeuvrable, and designed to appeal to owner-drivers as well as the chauffeur. Performance was magnificently flexible and the whole drivetrain extraordinarily silent and the steering offered jewel-like precision, incidentally bringing a whole new range of customers to Rolls-Royce as the car appealed mightily to lady drivers of the era.
Exported in chassis form to Sydney Australia on the SS Sophocles to its first owner AG Chapman Esq on the 10th of September 1923, chassis 83K7 was then subsequently fitted with a tourer body by the coachbuilders Smith & Waddington, Ltd. Smith & Waddington was incorporated in Camperdown, a suburb of Sydney, in September 1922. The British-born Frank Waddington was a wealthy cinema owner who teamed with Arthur Spurway Smith and Charles Leslie Fairs. Smith and Fairs were accomplished coachbuilders, and the new firm specialised in bespoke bodies for imported automobiles. Their work appeared on Wolseley, Hudson, Dort, Essex, Benz, Fiat and Turcat Mery chassis, in addition to Rolls-Royce.
Very quickly the name Smith & Waddington had become synonymous with top-class body construction for luxury motorcars and within a year, propelled principally by Waddington’s son Russell and Smith, Smith & Waddington had expanded to a large new factory. Their bodies, according to a local motoring journal, were “winning instantaneous admiration everywhere.” In 1923, they were bodying 85 percent of the Rolls chassis delivered to Australia, and many cars with their bodies were being exported to India and other southeast Asian countries. In 1924 Smith & Waddington added motor bus bodies to their activities and fared well in them for several years.
Owned by George Edwards from Albury and his family from the early, 1960s, under their ownership #83K7 received a restoration in 1978 and was reportedly used regularly. Inheriting the car from her father in 1982, J. Curtis had used the car for many more years before having the engine rebuilt in 1990.
Remaining in the families prestigious private collection of 12 vintage cars, #83K7 was well-maintained and received sparing yet regular use.
In 2013 #83K7 was repatriated back into the UK in 2013 by Mr. M Thomson and from the time of the engine rebuilt until today, the car has travelled a mere approximate 13,000 miles and is described by its current owner to be in good overall condition throughout; “fires up very easily, pulls strongly and the gearbox is sweet”.
The chassis for this elegant and sport early 20HP is equipped with twin side-mounted spare wheels, full weather gear and the front seat has an ingenious mechanism that allows it to be folded back level to create a full-length bed, which is no doubt as useful on long tours around Europe today, as it would have been on the open roads in Period in Australia! There is also a storage compartment behind the back seat and an in-built toolbox within the running board.
A reluctant sale as the vendor has neither the space, nor the time to spare from his Silver Ghost to full appreciate and enjoy this excellent and untouched example of an early 20HP.