Parked In Drive: 1936 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Sedanca de Ville

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

Well, this is something I told myself I would never do: Report on a car without being completely certain of its lineage.

It’s a Rolls-Royce, of course. The triple lights at the front and twin side intake flaps indicate it’s a 25/30, one of the brand’s most iconic (and popular) models. The open roof over the driver’s seat indicates the Sedanca de Ville style, named for a Spanish count and Rolls-Royce distributor, Carlos de Salamanca. But the identity of the coachbuilder took me a while.

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 rear, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

The era of coachbuilding that produced this rare Rolls was relatively brief – only about 50 years. With some notable exceptions, most firms that produced this quality of automotive customization were European, their skills learned from the era of horse-drawn carriages. While I might be corrected in the comments, I believe this Roller was customized by one of the oldest companies with a license to customize Rolls-Royces, the U.K.-based Windovers. If that’s true, it makes this a very rare Rolls, one of only three built in this style.

The car I spotted seemed to be lovingly used. I found it in a grocery store parking lot in Palm Springs on the first weekend of Coachella, which tells you the owner isn’t frightened of being stuck in unbearable traffic. It’s estimated that 70 percent of Rolls-Royce 25/30 models are still in use, a testament to their over-engineered build quality. Sadly, this one lacks the righteous-looking steel hood seen on a similar model, which sold recently for $119,000.

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Spirit of Ecstasy, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

I know that’s an unapproachable sum for most, but it’s a pittance compared to what it would cost to bring home a modern Rolls-Royce.

Browsing the British classified ads for other 20/35 models reveals their prices are surprisingly reasonable. The most expensive car on the list is about what you would pay for a 2017 BMW 7 Series, the car on which the modern Rolls-Royce line is based. This 25/30 appears to be for sale somewhere in America for $21,500.

Why are these fabulous cars so inexpensive?

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Front, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

It could be that nobody wants to pay the inevitable repair bills, even if these models are reputably reliable. It could be the lack of snob appeal – the 25/30 was Rolls-Royce’s most popular to date, so there are a lot of them running around. The low price could be an indication the classic car bubble is destined to pop as the market shifts to serve younger generations of buyers. The same thing happens to nearly all classes of collectibles; even Elvis memorabilia is starting to lose value. Many of my fellow millennials have no connection to coachbuilt automobiles — let alone Winowers — if they have any interest in automobiles in the first place.

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Steering Wheel, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

Yet, I can’t help but think the kind of person who drives around in a pink Ghost with a cartoon character on the side would gather the same amount of attention for a lot less money (and a lot more class) by buying an old-school Rolls-Royce like this one. And with the money they’d save, they could employ a chauffeur, and not even need to worry that it’s right-hand-drive. What do you think?

1936 Rolls-Royce 25/30 vs. Ghost, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

[Images: © 2017 Forest Casey]