Rolls-Royce Three-Position Drophead Coupe

By the mid-1930s, a ten-year-old Rolls-Royce looked very much out of fashion. Its chassis, however, was still extremely serviceable, such was its engineering and construction. A solution to the dilemma of keeping or replacing was the replacement body business of two London dealers, Southern Motor Company of Clapham and Comptons of Sydenham. Neither was a coachbuilder, per se; the bodies were contracted to Ranalah or Coachcraft.

The basis for these re-bodies (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “replicas” – a misnomer since they didn’t replicate anything) was usually the 20 hp Rolls-Royce, preferably a post-1925 model to take advantage of the four-wheel brakes. The chassis appearance was updated by fitting vertical radiator shutters, smaller wheels and a modern steering wheel. The bodies were very up-to-the-minute for the times, and the cars were treated to a complete engine rebuild and were then sent back to Rolls-Royce for a 24-hour test. The result was a modern-looking car for a third of the price of a new one. Since most of the cars were priced economically, economy of construction was important. Thus, there were catalogued body styles built in modest quantities. The exception was the Dorchester three-position drophead coupé, Southern’s most prestigious offering.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

53 bhp, 3,127 cc overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted brakes. Wheelbase: 3,277 mm (129").

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood

Gallery: Rolls-Royce Three-Position Drophead Coupe