Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Long Wheelbase Special Saloon
by Davide Bassoli
At the 1957 Earls Court Show Rolls-Royce launched the Long Wheelbase version of the Silver Cloud and S Series. As reported in the official brochure:
“The Silver Cloud is primarily designed for the owner-driver, but it is often used as a business car, driven by the firm’s chauffeur. To meet this dual purpose specification a Silver Cloud with a longer wheelbase has been developed. The chassis is lengthened by 4 inches, so that an electrically operated division can be fitted between the front and rear compartments. Chauffeur driven with the division up, this car is suitable for the busy executive who wishes to prepare notes, carry on confidential conversation, or simply relax. At other times, with the division down, the long wheelbase Silver Cloud is a normal family saloon for weekend use or continental travel.”
The Silver Cloud Long Wheelbase could also be equipped without the division. The body was the Silver Cloud standard steel made by The Pressed Steel Co modified at Willesden by Park Ward on Design n° 858.
The roof and floor were cut to add the extra four inches, there was a new rear door incorporating the increased dimension, with a new squared window frame. The rear hinged quarter light was transferred from the door onto the thinner rear pillar.
The same body was used for the Silver Cloud II and, with the same frontal alteration of the Standard Steel Body, for the Silver Cloud III.
Very few persons know that Park Ward also built a different version. Recently, I have been contacted by Colin Hughes and Klaus-Josef Rossfeldt who asked me for information about these special cars, that has never appeared in any of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley books.
For owners who preferred more privacy when seated in back seat of a Silver Cloud Long Wheelbase, Park Ward offered for the Series II another version - four light Design n° 902, which was almost identical to the standard steel body. The rear quarter light was part of the rear door, while the rear pillar was exactly like that one of the standard steel body, giving more privacy when seated in the back seats. So while at first glance the car looks exactly like the standard steel saloon, a closer look reveals the longer rear window area and the four inch increase of the rear door that allowed the fitting of the division.
This modification made by Park Ward - with the cutting of the roof and floor to add the extra inches, and the fitting of longer sills and rear door, but leaving untouched the rear pillars - was easier than on Design n° 858. So if we compare it with Design n° 858, Park Ward adopted just a new rear window frame - not squared like in Design n° 858, but similar to the one on the Standard Steel Saloon, having just the window area 4 inches longer.
As everyone knows, in 1959 Rolls-Royce bought the coachbuilder H J Mulliner, who then merged with Park Ward creating H J Mulliner, Park Ward Limited. Although they were now together, initially they worked separately in their own premises - H J Mulliner in Chiswick, and Park Ward in Willesden - until 1962 when (with the introduction of the Silver Cloud III/S 3) H J Mulliner moved to Willesden. So in 1959 started the collaboration of these coachbuilders and this special body for the Silver Cloud II Long Wheelbase is one of the first examples.
In fact, the rear window frames with longer window area was already being used by H J Mulliner for the Silver Cloud I Estate Car - Design n° 7503 - for the Long Wheelbase chassis they produced in conjunction with Harold Radford.
I have a photo of a Silver Cloud II Long Wheelbase with division Design n° 902 taken when it was for sale at Vintage Motors of Sarasota some years ago. The car was in need of full restoration and unfortunately I do not know the chassis number and where it is currently located. If anyone knows anything about this car, I would be pleased to hear from them.
Tony Handler in California owns another Silver Cloud II Design n° 902 chassis n° LLCC30 which is currently under full restoration.
At the 2008 RREC Annual Rally my Dutch friend Hans Porrio wanted to show me a very special car belonging to a friend of his: it was a Silver Cloud III Long Wheelbase chassis n° LCGL27 with the same special four light body made by H J Mulliner, Park Ward. The car was fully restored, in black with beige hide and electrically operated division.
Relating to LCGL27, at The Hunt House I discovered the Design n° 2024 for the Silver Cloud III Long Wheelbase (four light Special Saloon) with division. I also found Design n° 2023 for the Silver Cloud III Long Wheelbase without division, and Design n° 2018 for the Bentley S3 Long Wheelbase.
While chatting recently with Michael Erhardt, he showed me a photo of another Silver Cloud III Long Wheelbase “four light” chassis CDL65, that is at the time of writing the only known RHD car with this special saloon body design. He also said that many years ago the famous dealer P J Fischer had an S3 Long Wheelbase with this special design. Furthermore, Jean-Yves Rondeau in Paris owns another of these cars: chassis n° LCFL35 equipped with many Harold Radford extras.
It is not known whether any Silver Cloud Series I were ever built or how many cars were built for Silver Cloud Series II and Series III with these special bodies, but probably more than the two Silver Cloud II and three Silver Cloud III's mentioned in this article. It is my intention to do more research at the Hunt House, although Park Ward files are often not clear and it will be difficult to discover the exact number.