‘Henrietta’ heads back to the auction block

‘Henrietta’ heads back to the auction block

1926 Rolls-Royce has a long and fascinating story of racing, war and ocean travels

“Henrietta” has quite an interesting history. The 1926 Rolls-Royce 20hp Tourer bodied by Hooper will be offered for sale November 28 at H&H Classics auction at Buxton in the UK.

The car was nicknamed by Henry Stonor, a British expat and founding member of the Vintage Car Club of Malaya. Stonor raced the Rolls in many events, which she survived, only to encounter collisions with a rubber tree and on a road through the rubber plantation.

Before being nicknamed, the car was ordered new from the Clyde Automobile Company of Glasgow, Scotland, by Chung Thye Phin, a tin miner and rubber planter considered the richest man in Penang, a state in the country now known as Malaysia.

Chasis GCK32 not only had up-rated heavy-duty suspension but a four-door, dual-cowl Tourer body by coachbuilder Hooper of London. It was carried across the oceans aboard by the SS Benalden and became the property of Thye Phin’s nephew, Choon Kee Lam. 

This Hooper-bodied 1926 Rolls-Royce Tourer last went to auction in 1969

The car reportedly was loaned to the Duke of Gloucester when he visited in the late 1920s, and was used by Japanese and by British forces during World War II (losing its side screens in the process).

After the war it was acquired by Stonor, who returned — with the car — to the UK late in 1951 and had the Rolls-Royce factory overhaul the engine before he and Henrietta returned to Malay aboard the SS Ulysses.

Stonor drove the car to second place, behind a Bentley Speed Six, at the Malacca Speed Trials in 1953, to second again, behind an Alvis Silver Eagle, at the Sungei Way Sprint in mid-1952, and then won, beating a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and Jaguar SS100, among others, the 320-mile Rally fo Malay, contested largely on unpaved roads.

Henrietta (right) racing on narrow, unpaved roads

After all that, Henrietta needed some repairs — she was repainted several times while in Malaya — and resumed racing in 1955. She also appeared in a documentary movie about Malaysian palm oil and carried Prince Richard of Gloucester during his visit to Malaya in 1963.

She raced again in 1967, finishing third in a support event for the Malaysian Grand Prix, and then was to Eric Lister, a Manchester-based art dealer and friend of Stonor’s. Lister soon sold the car to J.A. Pearce, a race car engineer and car dealer, who consigned it to an auction in 1969. The car didn’t sell there, but a month later was sold and became part of the Sharpe Family Collection, the largest motorcar collection in England for many years.

The car was stored away for decades

H&H reports that that Stonor regretted selling Henrietta and spent decades trying to track her down. However, she was hidden away in the family collection in England until being purchased in 2012 by the Real Car Company, which sold her to Alan Giles, whose son is consigning the car to the H&H sale.

Alan Giles worked for several decades in Malaya, where he knew Stonor and Henrietta. Giles had hoped to drive Henrietta, and installed a new exhaust system and other parts, but health problems and age led to the car heading to auction.

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