Gary L Wales winner of the 1984 Great American race for ‘antique’ cars is also a prize winning restoration expert who also has penchant for what he calls ‘Retro Design’ with which he aims to put together pleasing and fun vehicles for the road which recombine some of the best ideas stolen from the entire history of motoring.
Today’s featured car started life as a 1937 Rolls Royce 20/25 chassis onto which had been built a Saloon / Sedan body. The car ended up as a termite demolished derelict in Puerto Rico and in the mid 1980’s Gary acquired the chassis which is fitted with a 25/30 4257 cc / 259 cui six cylinder motor. 25/30 motors were introduced to the 20/25 chassis because owners were having bodies fitted to their cars which were too heavy for the 20/25 3699 cc / 225 cui motors. Note Gary has used double hinges for the bonnet / hood which nicely extend the line of the radiator grill.
Gary who by his own admission “flunked ruler reading” like any artisan turns his remarkable designs from his head into sheet metal using traditional techniques and tools, employing the work shop floor for schematic layout and traditional tools like the English Wheel.
For the Boattail Speedster Gary decided to move the motor, transmission and fire wall back a full 18 inches to give this car a longer bonnet line with the added benefit of improving the handling. The design for the wings / fenders was inspired by the French coach builder Henri Labourdette.
The dash board is original note the goggles are hanging from a map reading light to aid navigation by the passenger at night.
Labourdette also made numerous boattailed bodies back in the day, the wood work for Gary’s Rolls was cut by Gary’s neighbour John Maddocks who happens to be President of an Antique Boat Society.
The Philippine mahogany with darker Honduras mahogany edging is backed by aluminium from which the rest of the bodywork was also made.
If one lets ones eye follow the center line of the vehicle from the rear to the front it passes through the centre screen pillars which frame the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot on the radiator grill at the front.
If it is remarkable that Gary should build one such car it is surely all the more remarkable that around the time he acquired this chassis he acquired a second chassis of the same type and similar age which had served as an Ambulance in London during the ’39/’45 war. Gary made an identical twin of today’s featured Speedster and both are usually seen together. As with much else Gary’s Retro Designed pair of Speedsters have also become award winners.
My thanks to Geoffrey Horton who took these photographs at last years Palo Verdes Concours d’Elegance, and to Gary Wales who kindly confirmed which of his Rolls Royce twins Geoffrey took the photos of.
Thanks for joining me on this “The Welsh Royces” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !