By the time the Silver Cloud series debuted in the late 1950s, Rolls-Royce had fully embraced the idea of mass production – at least in a Rolls-Royce sense of “mass” production – in an effort to remain competitive in an increasingly tight marketplace. The Silver Cloud Standard Steel Saloon was penned in-house by J.P. Blatchley; a modernized yet timeless interpretation of the classic, swooping Silver Dawn that preceded it. The factory body proved to be very popular with buyers, and remained in production with only minor changes for over a decade.
But despite declining demand, Rolls-Royce still enlisted the services of outside and in-house coachbuilders. The Silver Cloud’s robust full ladder frame gave coachbuilders an outstanding platform on which to practice their craft. The legendary British coachbuilding firms of Hooper, James Young and Freestone & Webb all worked with the Silver Cloud chassis. In addition, H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward – who were now under the auspices of Rolls-Royce - each produced their own series of special-bodied Clouds offered via official dealers, much in the spirit of the “custom catalog” days of the pre-war era. After the introduction of the V8-powered Silver Cloud II, Rolls-Royce had consolidated operations, combining H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward into H.J. Mullner, Park Ward, Ltd. The beautiful creations would continue, including the popular Drophead Coupe based on a modified Standard Steel Saloon. For clients wishing for a bit more exclusivity and modern style, Mulliner Park Ward offer Design 2045; a stunning, slab-sided fixed head and drophead coupe first built on a Bentley Continental chassis and later adapted for Rolls-Royce.
Design 2045 was drawn by a young Norwegian named Vilhelm Koren, who managed to deftly retain the signature elegance of Rolls-Royce while giving the car a fresh, modern and exciting look. The slab sides and laser-straight beltline were a drastic departure from Rolls-Royce’s traditionally baroque curves and swages, though it would go on to inspire the works stylists in the design of the Silver Shadow in the late 1960s. Of the 7,372 Silver Clouds produced, just 101 would wear Design 2045, with 52 of those originally delivered in left hand drive.
This 1965 Silver Cloud III H.J. Mulliner Park Ward Drophead is a truly exquisite example of the breed in every respect, and is one of the finest of its kind we have ever encountered. According to the factory chassis card, this original US specification left-drive car, chassis number LCSC 35C, left the works at Crewe in August of 1965 making the short trip to H.J. Mulliner Park Ward to receive its coachwork. Three months later, it was despatched to the legendary import car dealer Charles H. Hornburg Jr. Motor Cars of California and delivered to Kurt R. Strand of Beverly Hills. Mr. Strand specified the handsome color combination of Dawn Blue over Buff leather with a blue power operated hood. Other options include Dunlop whitewall tires, luggage straps, electric door windows, a power-operated Hirschmann antenna and Sundym glass. We can only imagine just how crisp and elegant Mr. Strand’s Rolls-Royce would have looked cruising Wilshire Boulevard in 1965.
Following a sympathetic restoration to its original specification, this magnificent Rolls-Royce presents in truly impeccable condition inside and out. Finished as original in the handsome shade of Dawn Blue, the body and paintwork are exceptionally straight with precise and consistent panel fitment. The brightwork has been restored to a similarly high standard, presenting in very fine condition both inside and out. The body also features the optional chrome side trim which adds a subtle highlight to the clean and uncluttered design.
The big doors of this Silver Cloud open and shut effortlessly, and occupants are treated to an expertly restored interior trimmed in acres of tan Connolly hides. Beautifully finished to a very high standard, the interior is in exquisite order throughout. Dark blue Wilton wool carpets provide a lovely complement to the tan leather, and blonde-colored woodwork has been fully restored along with the soft trim; retaining its original book-matched veneers on the dash, door caps and front tray. The dark blue Stayfast canvas hood is fully lined in broadcloth as original, which provides some additional insulation and comfort when motoring with the roof in place. The hood is power operated as originally equipped and the fit is taut and crease-free.
Close inspection of the engine bay and undercarriage reveal the level of care and attention that went into the restoration, and the performance is as good as the cosmetics. The 6.25 liter V8 engine has been fully detailed with correct finishes and fittings, and since the restoration was completed, it has seen only light use. Performance is excellent, with the vast reserves of torque making for effortless progress. The engine is complemented by a smooth-shifting automatic transmission and the car rides and handles with confidence on correct-type crossply tires.
With just 52 left hand drive examples built, this gorgeous machine represents a very rare opportunity to acquire one of the last fully coachbuilt Rolls-Royce motorcars; an important piece of mid-century design that inspired the company’s styling well into the next decade. Rarely do we see these cars restored to this high standard and with such meticulous attention to detail. It has been used sparingly since and fastidiously maintained in beautiful condition. Gorgeous and ready for enjoyment, this truly outstanding Silver Cloud III MPW is a fine choice for concours or road events, and is still one of the best cars we can imagine for cruising the boulevards of Hollywood.