Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud HJ Mulliner Four Door Cabriolet
By Davide Bassoli
A peculiarity of Rolls-Royce was the individuality available for its customers and the Silver Cloud was certainly no exception.
Louis Marx was one of the most famous toy manufacturers in the world; he was the first to introduce the “yo-yo” to the American market in the 1920's, selling over 100 million of them in just a few years! A 1955 article in the Time Magazine proclaimed Louis Marx to be “The Toy King” and that year his Company achieved about $50 million in sales.
In 1961, this multi-millionaire toy manufacturer wanted “his toy” - a tailor made Rolls-Royce. He wanted a drophead coupé and he favoured HJ Mulliner’s Design No 7410. However, because he had a chauffeur he did not want the inconvenience of the reduced access to the rear seats created by the 2-door design. So he commissioned HJ Mulliner to produce a 4-door cabriolet body to be fitted on a long wheelbase chassis number LLCB16.
For HJ Mulliner’s stylist Herbert Nye the target was to maintain the well-balanced proportion of the 2-door Design No 7410 on a 4-door long wheelbase cabriolet. Louis Marx ordered the car in smoke green, with matched upholstery in light green and with a green power operated hood.
The final result was excellent, because this 4-door Cabriolet, identified by HJ Mulliner as Design No 7484, maintained the proportion and the lightness of the 2-door Design No 7410. The rear doors were hinged forward on half centre pillars, with the rear window lacking the quarter light. An oddity of the rear window is that, because of the lack of space inside the door, it doesn’t come down in the usual manner. It is hinged on its lower front corner and it pivots down on this axis disappearing completely into the door. The main technical problem with the car was maintaining a good stiffness on such a long body without the help of the roof. HJ Mulliner’s engineers solved the problem by reinforcing the floor pan and the sills in vital points such as near the centre pillars.
From 18 February to 27 March 1963, HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh undertook a royal visit in Australia, primarily to attend Canberra’s jubilee celebrations which commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the naming of the capital. The Australian High Commission needed new cars to replace their old Silver Wraiths: Hooper cabriolet all-weather chassis numbers HLW47 and HLW49, for The Queen to use during the parades.
Hooper ceased activity in 1959, so the High Commission contacted HJ Mulliner who proposed the drawing of the 4-door cabriolet for the Silver Cloud LWB chassis. The Australian Government found the body suitable for parade purposes being an open car and having plenty of space in the rear compartment, so they ordered two cars - identical in colour and equipment.
In the meantime, HJ Mulliner merged with Park Ward, moving to its premises and forming the HJ Mulliner, Park Ward Co Ltd. From 1962 all the new company drawing numbers began from 2000 onwards.
The new model of 1962 was the introduction of the Silver Cloud III with the twin headlamps - a change introduced also for the coachbuilt models. Returning to the two 4-door cabriolets ordered by the Australian High Commission, HJ Mulliner, Park Ward’s stylists had to decide on whether or not to update the frontal appearance with the incorporation of twin headlamps. The lack of space between the radiator grille and the prominent front wings forced the stylists to leave the single headlamps, making these cabriolets the only Silver Cloud III's offered with Silver Cloud I/II headlamp specification (there were also a Silver Cloud III “Chinese eye” and a Bentley S3 Continental “Flying Spur” with single headlamps,
but these were explicitly ordered with this specification by the customers).
So maintaining exactly the same body design of the first Silver Cloud II, but renumbered by HJ Mulliner, Park Ward with the Drawing No 2033, the two 4-door cabriolet chassis CAL37 and CAL39 were delivered to Australia. These cabriolets were exactly identical and indistinguishable, painted Royal Claret with off-white hide and black hood. Both cars were equipped with a boot refrigeration unit and with screw type radiator caps; each car was supplied with a Flying Lady mascot cap and town cap. During the parades, HM The Queen probably had the Flying Lady mascot exchanged with her personal ‘St George and the Dragon’ mascot.
Another special feature was an extractable handle on the top of each front seat enabling H M The Queen to stand safely with the car in motion.
For unknown reasons, CAL37 was equipped with the engine removed from Silver Cloud II chassis SAE673 and renumbered CL18A, while CAL39 was equipped with the engine removed from Bentley S2 chassis B260DW and renumbered CL19A.
Following the success of these two cars during the Royal visit in Australia, other cars were ordered with the 4-door cabriolet body. HJ Mulliner, Park Ward’s stylists did a modification for these new cars, changing the “cathedral” type rear lamps with the standard Silver Cloud III ones. This modification changed the drawing number to 2037.
The first 4-door cabriolet Design 2037 was delivered to Dr Hasting Banda, Prime Minister of the new Republic of Malawi. The car, chassis CDL3, was ordered in Deep Red with Grey interior and hood. Two years later, after achieving independence from Great Britain, Dr Hasting Banda was elected President of Malawi.
The second car, Design No 2037, had chassis LCCL9 and was delivered to Mr C Cooper in England, with registration number EUV500C. The car was painted in Royal Blue with beige hide and hood. Probably resident in the United States of America, Mr Cooper took delivery in England and then sent it to his native Country.
The last chassis receiving the 4-door cabriolet body was the chassis LCEL87. The first owner was the American M Gelman, who ordered the car in golden beige metallic with off-white hide and dark green hood. With this unusual combination of colours, this last 4-door cabriolet was delivered in July 1965, together with a set of nine suitcases in the luggage.