As the first model to be produces with standard "factory" bodywork, the 1949 launch of the Silver Dawn marked an enormous in change of tack for Rolls-Royce. With a production run of only seven hundred and twenty five examples, it was only the start of the constructor's incursion into the North American market. Following-on from this mini success, the Silver Cloud would flourish as the next subject of this new production strategy, becoming one of the marque's most emblematic models.
First presented in April 1955, the Silver Cloud had in fact been under development since 1951, when the engineers started concept work on its prototype. The developmental work led to a new chassis design with square cross-sectioned spars providing a 50% increase in rigidity compared to the preceding Bentley MK VI and Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. Trials began at the end of 1952 and the decision was made to entrust production to John Thompson Motor Pressing.
The bodywork design was the work of John Blatchley, who became the first automotive designer to use a reduced scale model in wax to develop the car's shapes and volumes. The result of this process was a bodywork that drew the best from modern and traditional influences, and a style that would incarnate the archetypal millionaire's automobile. This design was so successful that it would remain unaltered for ten years, with only a small number of coach builders attempting their own coach work for the Silver Cloud chassis.
To be continued...