1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Series II, James Young LWB ($225,000)
Photography by Alex Melagrano
Written by Alex Steinberg
- Location: Boston, Massachusetts
- Chassis: LCB68
- Engine: 6.2L V8
- Transmission: Four-speed GM Hydramatic Automatic
- Mileage: 81,742
- Color: Midnight Blue/Dove Blue with Burled Walnut
1961. Your new Silver Cloud rolls off the factory floor in Crewe. You’ve already decided to buy what was hailed as “the best car in the world.” Your next big decision? Deciding which coachbuilder should make the best even better. This extremely rare, right-hand drive, long-wheelbase Silver Cloud Series II had the pleasure of being styled by James Young, one of the last true craftsmen of his time, and making this example just 1 of 38. Beautifully and meticulously restored using only authentic Rolls-Royce equipment, this Silver Cloud is turnkey ready for the next royal wedding or concours, in which it has already proven a favorite.
CONDITION | EXTERIOR
Body – Benefitting from a full frame-off restoration, the body of this Silver Cloud is in mint condition today, displaying all original panels with excellent fitment and consistent panel gaps throughout. As a testament to the quality of the work, this example took first place in the Touring Class at the Rolls-Royce Nationals in Newport, Rhode Island in 2003, shortly after the restoration was completed.
Paint – This car has been resprayed in its original shade of Midnight Blue. The paint presents in excellent condition, free from bubbling, shrinkage, and stone chips.
Chrome, Trim, & Glass – The chrome is in excellent, lustrous condition—befitting a car of this stature. The original trim also appears excellent, as well as all glass, which is without any signs of pitting or scratching.
Wheels – The original 15″ steel wheels on five-stud hubs appear in excellent condition with no damage.
CONDITION | INTERIOR
Steering Wheel – The thin and elegant original 17″ steering wheel is in beautiful condition, showing only minimal wear consistent with mileage.
Dashboard & Instrumentation – The stunning burled walnut dashboard is in absolutely excellent condition with no signs of shrinkage, cracking, or discoloration. All original instrumentation presents nicely and is in full, proper working order.
Seats, Trim, & Carpet – The regal, original Dove Blue leather seats are in very nice condition, with only minor wear on the outside of the driver’s seat. The cabin is divided, as is appropriate for this vehicle’s original use as a chauffeured example. All brightwork is in lovely condition, including the rear individual controls for the electric windows. The vibrant burled walnut trim is in excellent condition, and stretches around the entirety of the windshield, continuing back to the fully functioning, folding tray tables found in the front-rear divider. The original deep pile Wilton carpets are in nice condition, only showing minimal wear near the pedals.
CONDITION | MECHANICAL
Engine – Originally powered by a 4.9L inline-six, the Series II was the first full production Rolls-Royce model utilizing the all-new, in-house 6.23L V8. The new design featured elements that the company gleaned from their history of developing aircraft engines, such as wet liners in an aluminum alloy block and a gear-driven camshaft. Rolls-Royce historically did not quote power figures, but in a detailed review published in The Motor at the time of the engine’s debut, it was suggested that, “…few engineers studying its details would be willing to give credence to any torque figure below 325lb/ft.” When Rolls-Royce board members asked the at-the-time technical director Harry Grylls, “Is it a good engine?” Grylls candidly remarked, “Oh my God, yes! Bloody near as good as the Chrysler!” This design foundation would go on to become the longest running production engine still in use today.
This Silver Cloud benefitted from a full mechanical restoration in the early 2000s under the meticulous care of Don Clark of Oldtimer Restoration. The original, numbers-matching 6.2L V8, fed by twin SU carburettors, is a healthy example with no areas of concern.
Original Motor: Yes.
Engine Number: Available upon request.
The Drive: With ample power to propel the 2.1-ton Cloud down the road, the 6.2L even does so with ease.
Transmission – The four-speed GM Hydramatic automatic transmission was chosen for this application due to its well behaved nature, and ability to aptly handle the torque of the new, powerful V8. The transmission in this Silver Cloud received a full refresh during the mechanical restoration aforementioned.
Original Transmission: Yes.
Gearbox Number: Available upon request.
The Drive: The smooth shifting four-speed automatic sails through the ratios with no signs of hesitation or popping.
This Silver Cloud sporting original panels, numbers-matching engine and transmission, and also comes complete with extremely detailed journal entries and receipts related to the full restoration it underwent in the early 2000s. The bits that were refreshed during this process were carefully verified to be of authentic Rolls-Royce equipment, down to the bolts.
Best in Touring Class
Rolls-Royce Nationals | Newport, Rhode Island | September 2003
Best in Prestige Class
British Car Day | Museum of Transportation | Brookline, Massachusetts | September 2003
Due to the rarity of this vehicle with only 38 examples being produced, and the tendency of such high-quality examples to change hands privately, it is difficult to find true market equivalents. However, the following are other contenders in the same class of luxury and exclusivity:
Styled by another popular coachbuilder of the time, Mulliner-Park Ward, this original drophead coupe brought $220,000 in Monterey through RM Sotheby’s in 2012.
A similar example to the current vehicle came on offer at the Pebble Beach Concours in 2007, this recently reconditioned limousine model possessed James Young coachwork on an extended wheelbase lacking a divider and commanded a price of $225,000.
Fit for a King: With extensive documentation to back it up, the heavy lifting is already done for you with the full mechanical and cosmetic restoration completed. You are saving pound for pound on all 4,647 pounds of lavish luxury.
A Different Kind of Weekend Warrior: Save the Porsche for Saturday night, the Silver Cloud is meant for Sunday morning coffee and a trip to soak in the countryside. The Series II made famous the tagline, “At 60 miles per hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” Talk about tranquility. Plus, you have picnic trays and cocktail tumblers in the divider to finish off the perfect jaunt.
MEET THE SELLER
This car is for sale privately by John Carlson and his son, Jack Carlson of Boston, Massachusetts.
MORE ABOUT THIS MODEL
While the Silver Cloud doesn’t hold any Le Mans victories under any one of its belts, it is still respected as a driver’s car. In an article appearing in the London Daily Mail around the time of the debut, it was stated that the car provided remarkable feedback despite its over 18′ in length. “It does not feel like a big car at all,” one reviewer wrote. When asked about such modern comforts as power steering and the smoothness of the now standard automatic gearbox, the reviewer remarked, “I was afraid that out in the country I should miss the feel of the front wheels as I turned the steering – a point that is so important where safe driving is concerned. I need not have worried.”
“For although I am a racing driver, and my bread and butter largely depends on the speed with which I change the gears on my Grand Prix cars, I want nothing of it when it comes to ordinary driving.” Who was this reviewer? None other than Stirling Moss.
The successor to the traditionally crisp-edged Silver Dawn, the new post-war Silver Cloud demonstrated Rolls-Royce’s first attempt at a more streamlined, flowing body – and it was wildly successful, catching the attention of royalty and Hollywood alike. As the last true example of Rolls-Royce body-on-frame construction, the John Polwhele Blatchley design also became the perfect muse for those remaining few dedicated to their craft – the last of the old world coachbuilders, such as James Young, H.J. Mulliner, and Hooper. Beyond the stunning exterior, the new, brutal V8 coupled with such refined conveniences as feather light power steering and electric windows gave consumers the idea that you really can have it all behind the spirit of ecstasy.
After all, it was good enough for a rendezvous with James Bond. Don’t believe us?