The Silver Cloud series was a dramatically different and very important car for Rolls-Royce. The market for bespoke, coachbuilt cars was beginning to dry up, so Rolls-Royce needed a car that could be mass produced – at least in a Rolls-Royce sense of “mass” production. Of course, they did not want to neglect their high end clientele who still demanded exclusive coachbuilt cars. As a result, the Silver Cloud was developed on a full ladder frame, a characteristic that allowed the master coachbuilders to still practice their craft. But what set it and its mechanically identical sibling, the Bentley S1, apart was the fact that they were mainly sold with the Standard Steel Saloon body built by Pressed Steel, Inc. The standard car, penned by J.P. Blatchley, was a beautifully modern interpretation of the classic, swooping Silver Dawn that preceded it. The fully enveloped body was built in steel with aluminum alloy used for the hood, trunk and doors. Power was courtesy of a large, smooth running inline-six mated to an automatic transmission – a GM Hydramatic built under license.
Three series of Silver Clouds were produced between 1955 and 1966. The biggest changes could be found on the Cloud II with the arrival of an all-alloy, 6.2 Liter V8 engine, and the Cloud III with its freshened up body featuring quad headlamps, a shorter grille and subtly sloping bonnet. The Cloud III now had standard electric windows, a slight bump in power and refinement for the V8, and a host of small but effective changes that make the Cloud III among the most desired of the standard saloons. The car proved wildly popular by Rolls-Royce standards, with 6,699 standard cars built, plus a handful of coachbuilt, long wheelbase and commercial hearses and even some shooting brake wagons. Of that total, 2,044 Silver Cloud III’s left the Crewe works, when it was ultimately replaced by the Silver Shadow.
This 1965 Silver Cloud III is a lovely, well-maintained car in honest and original condition throughout. The odometer reads just 54,690 miles, which, when taking into consideration the integrity of this car, very likely indicates the true mileage. The body is finished in Mason's Black, a suitably elegant shade for a Cloud III, and the paint quality is quite good. It is pleasingly attractive and very presentable, though it is showing a few signs of regular use and a ding or two, but it is nothing that detracts from its good looks. The exterior chrome is all in fine order, appearing largely original and straight. The prominent stainless radiator shell is also in very good condition.
The best part of the Silver Cloud experience is the sumptuous interior. This car’s red leather sets off the black exterior quite splendidly. The original leather is surprisingly good, showing a bit of wear but mostly in the form of a nice, pleasant patina of age that suits this type of car so well. Maroon carpeting appears to be new and is in very good order. The extensive wood trim appears totally original and is nicely presented with an honest, moderate patina and no signs of serious delamination. It is typically equipped with electric windows, power steering, power brakes, factory air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo.
The Cloud III is the most desirable of the Silver Cloud series. The big V8 of the Cloud III breaths through large 2” S.U. carburetors and the GM-derived transmission is smooth and durable. Although the Cloud/S-series were built in larger numbers than any Rolls-Royce/Bentley model before, they still retained the exceptional level of quality, refinement and longevity that is a cornerstone of the Rolls Royce legacy.