6,230cc OHV V8 engine (see text)
Twin side-draft SU carburetors
Four-speed automatic transmission
Independent Front Suspension, Live Rear Axle
Four-wheel power-assisted hydraulic drum brakes
* Rare derivative of Rolls-Royce
* Original U.S. Supplied, left hand drive car
* Comprehensively restored in 1990s and with limited use since
* Timelessly elegant four seat open Rolls
THE ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER CLOUD II
"Many people have paid the price of the best car in the world without ever owning it." 1960s Rolls-Royce advertising campaign.
Rolls-Royce has never been reluctant to express the quality of its automobiles, nor abashed about putting it to the test, but even by the Crewe firm's high standards the Silver Cloud range of the late 1950s/early 1960s represented a high point in the fortunes of the legendary British marque's post-war history.
Adoption of an all-aluminum 6.23 liter V8 engine replacing the straight six of the Cloud I was the most remarkable innovation when Rolls-Royce publicized the advent of their new Silver Cloud II model in 1959. It is well worth noting that this engine - developed during the 1950s - was still performing under the bonnet of Rolls-Royce's modern models of the '90s though having been subject to the company's established policy of seeking improvements in design and manufacture. Here in the USA the Silver Cloud II was tremendously successful and the slogan coined by David Ogilvy's advertising agency "At 60 mph the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock" became a classic of its own. As regards coachwork there were but negligible changes to the familiar Standard Steel bodywork when compared to that of the Silver Cloud I.
For some clients, however, even the factory's own coachwork was not quite exclusive enough, and for this select band of purchasers Rolls-Royce proposed a range of bespoke bodies, ranging from Harold Radford's 'Countryman' estate conversions through Park Ward's rakish Vilhelm Koren styled convertible, but perhaps that which best reflected Rolls-Royce values was Mulliner's convertible, known today as the 'Mulliner Adaptation'. Author and historian Johnnie Green writes: "The work of the brilliant John P Blatchley, the superb lines lent themselves to adaption to drophead form as devised by H.J. Mulliner." Hand crafted style such as this attracted a hefty premium though, H J Mulliner's convertible being priced some 30% above the standard Silver Cloud II four-door saloon, which was already one of the world's most expensive cars.
A total of 107 of these cars were built on the Cloud II/S2 standard-wheelbase chassis a mere 4% of the production of this successful model.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
This exceptionally rare Rolls-Royce is one of only 74 of an already limited run that were built in left hand drive form, and certainly even fewer that were delivered to these shores. Owing to the availability of original factory records for the marque, it can be confirmed that as new the Drophead was ordered by Rolls-Royce Inc. for J.S. Inskip in October 1960. Intriguingly a handwritten note alongside this states 'New York Show Car'. This is not actually something that has been confirmed at the time of writing, but as ever its highly detailed specification is denoted on the order including annotations refining its livery which settled on ICI Steel Blue paint, with blue hide interior and carpets to match. A single silver coachline accented its exterior. Built to 'USA Specification Issue 2', the original left hand drive configuration is also noted, and reflected in the 'L' prefix to its chassis number, while features included power steering, electric windows, 'Sundym' glass throughout and Dunlop Buffalo 'white sided' tires.
The 'Adaptation' Drophead Coupe, as adopted as the correct nomenclature for these cars, was loaded and shipped on March 9, 1961 to New York. These timings tally with potential of Auto Show display, the event taking place from April 1-9 that year. By the end of May, the car was guaranteed to its first owner, William M. Hitzig of 787 Park Avenue, a prominent New York based Doctor.
Seemingly remaining in the New York area all of its life, the car was discovered by friends of the current owner in 1994, from a B.C. Benjamin, after an exhaustive search for this particular model. By then it was in need of a comprehensive rebuild and a full body off, frame up restoration was commenced. Carried out by noted experts on the marque and model, British Motor Cars, it was overseen by Harvey Luckman.
Over the course of the next 3 or more years and with more than 5,000 hours of work undertaken, every aspect of the car was attended to, technical, structural and cosmetic. At this time the opportunity was taken to upgrade the air-conditioning system also. This included the body being taken to bare metal and properly aligned and fitted with a new Connolly interior. As the restoration neared completion, a choice of dark green was made and the car repainted in this scheme, in more recent times this has again been renewed to a metallic blue hue closer to that which it wore new. During the rebuild the engine was found to have cracked block, and in preference a contemporary Silver Cloud III motor was found, rebuilt and fitted, providing improved performance.
Since its restoration the car has been shown occasionally at club Concours and has always been admired, garnering a number of awards. Today, that rebuild has aged a little, but the car remains extremely well presented, and has received freshening prior to its sale.
Supremely elegant and rarely available particularly those that were sold new to the U.S. this is an eminently collectible and covetable four person touring Rolls-Royce.