Back in 1963, if you had the money that bought two range-topping Cadillac convertibles, you weren’t far off from being able to afford an HJ Mulliner Silver Cloud III drophead coupe. One person who could was Hollywood idol Tony Curtis, who special-ordered this Rolls-Royce and was the first in a select group of long-term connoisseur owners of this very vehicle. Yet, this rare coach-built Rolls-Royce has so much more to distinguish it by virtue of its unique provenance, history and exceptional condition.
Aside from the fact that it is one of only 27 left-hand drive HJ Mulliner dropheads on the Silver Cloud III platform, this stunning motor car was also the subject of a truly meticulous restoration costing in excess of $500,000 completed in 2014. The Silver Cloud III was the final flourishing of the Cloud family and by far the most capable. Its aluminum 6230cc V-8, mated to GM’s 4-speed Hydramatic transmission, was stronger and more powerful than the mill fitted in its predecessor thanks to larger carburetors, a raised compression ratio and other developments. It was lighter, too, and, as a result, the paciest Cloud ever with a top speed a little shy of 120 MPH. In addition, the perpendicularity of its frontal treatment was resolved with quad headlamps, a more sloping hood and shorter radiator grille that punched a smaller hole in the air and made the Cloud III perceptibly sleeker. It was a fine way to bring an era to a close, as the Cloud III was the last mainstream Rolls-Royce with body-on-frame construction, and although the vast majority were clothed in Standard Steel factory bodies, it gave the dwindling number of British coachbuilders one last chance to flourish.
HJ Mulliner’s rare and luxuriously appointed convertible is a glorious swansong for a disappearing age of bespoke elegance. It’s no exaggeration to say that this particular example, with its unique celebrity history and truly meticulous no-expense-spared restoration, is both a fitting homage and a defining statement.
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