Gangster's Roller under the hammer
September 13, 2005 A Rolle Royce with a distinctly shady past will be one of the star attractions of this year’s Shannons Australian International Motor Show Auction on October 23. ‘Cecilia’ is a 1934 model 20/25 Rolls-Royce swept tail sports coupe – named after one of her earlier and most infamous owners, gangster’s ‘moll’, Cecilia Hall. As the story goes, she was a present to Cecilia from her boyfriend, Melbourne gangster John Anderson, who was in a gang with the notorious Australian gangster ‘Squizzy’ Taylor in the 1930s. They were into drugs, prostitution and sly grog, down by the Melbourne dock area. Apparently, Cecilia was an unfaithful mistress who often enjoyed the company of other gangsters. Her sponsors soon tired of this and believing she knew too much, decided to ‘do her in’. But Cecilia was tipped off and quickly fled Australia, leaving her namesake behind her. ‘Squizzy’ Taylor was later killed in a shoot-out with rival crime boss ‘Snowy’ Cuttmore, and the car was re-acquired and used by John Anderson until he was declared bankrupt in 1948.
Her next owner used Cecilia for a couple of years before discarding her. ‘Fowl’ play was suspected, with Cecilia becoming a chook shed and suffering the ultimate indignity of hens actually nesting in her once luxurious interior.
However, luck turned her way in the early 1960s, when she was rescued by a West Australian suitor, who helped her regain her original respect over the following 24 years.
Cecilia then enjoyed further good times until 1997, when she moved to New South Wales with her present Rolls-Royce enthusiast owners and was restored once again – this time even more thoroughly.
As part of this, Cecilia’s mudguards coming off for the first time in nearly 70 years to allow the last of the bullet holes in the chassis to be repaired – a memoire d’amour of her wayward early days.
The restoration also saw Cecilia’s interior refurbished, the woodwork re-veneered and, finally, the car was painstakingly repainted over an 18-month period.
Perhaps the greatest compliments ever paid to Cecilia was when she was chosen to be one of only four cars in Australia to be displayed at The Melbourne Club in 2004 as part of the worldwide Rolls-Royce Centenary Rally.
Now Cecilia is looking for a new sponsor in the Australian Motor Show Auction presented by Shannons at the Sydney Exhibition & Convention Centre on October 23. There, she is expected to see bids in the AUD$58,000 to AUD$68,000 range, befitting her colourful history and her unique art deco styling – she is the only swept tail Rolls-Royce 20/25 coupe left in Australia.