1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Two-Door Coupe by James Young
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Guide price: £275,000 - £300,000
• 1 of only 6 built in this style, 4 were Right-Hand drive • Design SCV150 - possibly the most elegant ever produced • Sister car sold for c.£315,000 on 19/06/2021
• Sublime condition throughout
• Very well known history
Rolls-Royce is a marque with a fascinating history. Did you know that Henry Royce, a prolific inventor, first patented the bayonet cap you find on lightbulbs?
And right from the company’s inception, the notion was to build ‘the best cars in the world’ – a massive claim and not one to be undertaken lightly, but these engineers and artisans possessed the requisite skills, focus, insight and foresight to make it so.
The Silver Cloud models of the 1950s and ’60s are arguably the clearest representation of this ‘best car in the world’ ethos. The first-generation appeared in 1955, with 2,238 examples being built and were powered by a 4.9-litre straight-six and sumptuous interior appointments.
The Silver Cloud II arrived in 1959, visually similar but with Rolls-Royce’s new 6.2-litre V8 within, 2,417 were produced. And then came the Silver Cloud III in 1963, with improvements to engine refinement, coupled with a GM automatic gearbox and larger carburettors.
2,044 Silver Cloud IIIs were produced, and the important thing to remember is that throughout production, Rolls-Royce made the chassis available to coachbuilders who built bespoke aluminium coachwork.
Which is why the example you see here isn’t one of 2,044 – it’s one of just six of its kind ever built, two of which were Left-Hand drive and four were Right-Hand drive.
This Silver Cloud III was built by the celebrated Bromley coachbuilder James Young Limited in 1965.
The outfit was owned by Jack Barclay Limited, one of the world’s oldest and largest Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealers, and the signature Young coachwork has long been regarded as a high water mark for excellence.
With the unparalleled talent of A.F. McNeil heading up the design team, this was his most prolific period with his most successful design being the Silver Cloud; McNeil continued as Chief Stylist with James Young, and the ensuing designs are widely considered to be some of the most beautiful examples of coachwork in the post-war era.
This car, chassis no. CSC 91B, is one of just four cars built to design no. SCV150 by James Young in right-hand-drive on the Cloud III chassis; a further two cars were built in left-hand-drive. It was purchased by its second owner from James Young in 1966 who only sold her to buy the then new Silver Shadow II which was released in 1977.
Today it forms part of a serious collection of post war Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor-cars, and the previous owner was another well-established collector, buying it from P & A Wood in 1984.
So in the last few decades the car has had only two owners, and it’s still in delightful condition and original specification. The spec is impressive, well beyond most cars of this ilk in period, boasting electric windows, a full electric sunroof, and Pilkington Sundym glass.
The mileage is indicated at 34,000 and, although we cannot specifically validate this, we can validate that the condition is remarkable throughout.
It’s also worth noting that one of the other four RHD SCV150 James Young cars, chassis no. CSC 31B, was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in Lichtenstein in June of this year, selling for CHF398,750 – translating to £318,315 at today’s exchange rate. Furthermore, it is worth bearing in mind that it would cost an additional 5% to import that car into any European country or even to the UK which would add around £15,000.
It’s not often with a car of this age that you get a chance to trace a direct line back its early keepers, but amazingly the seller has been in recent and regular email correspondence with a family who have been able to share all sorts of endearing 1960s memories.
Print-outs of all of this are available in the history file, along with period photographs of the car parked on empty London streets, and press clippings with tales of its 1967 owner’s equestrian derring-do. (He was the car’s second owner.)
There’s a letter from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club from 2000, outlining how the car was originally burgundy, was at one point repainted blue, and has now been returned to its correct burgundy once more.
There are also facsimiles of the original Jack Barclay and James Young documentation from 1965, in which the colour is described respectively as Maroon and Garnet.
The concept behind the James Young Silver Cloud III was one of sumptuous elegance; grace and taste without gauche over-embellishment.
This is very much in evidence today, with this beautifully curated interior being just as splendid as it would have been half-a-century ago. The beige leather is lovely throughout, wearing a very gentle patina of ages but still complete, undamaged and splendid.
The seats are generously stuffed and extremely comfortable; the fronts have integrated fold-down armrests with clever butterfly hinge mechanisms, tilting forward to allow access to a rear bench which features a generous central armrest, individual map lights, and ashtrays and cigar lighters set into the wood trim.
The carpets and headlining are excellent, and the wood trim on the dash, door cappings and rear is just glorious: lustrously lacquered and free from damage, the wood detail comprises endless complex curvatures which must represent countless hours of work at the hands of world-class artisans.
Perhaps the most alluring feature is the large electrically-operated sunroof, which is in perfect working order; with the rear bench being set somewhat higher than the front seats, it offers rear passengers a proper convertible experience.
All of the correct gauges and switchgear are present and functional, and the electric windows both work properly; indeed, they’re astonishingly fast in their operation! The front quarterlights have a beautifully engineered rotating mechanism, again fully working on either side.
In addition to the Pilkington Sundym glass, the front features full-width tinted sun visors which flip down to eliminate the need for sunglasses.
The driver has their own cigar lighter and hidden ashtray, while another lighter can be found inside the glovebox along with a wired-in connector for a modern audio input.
Inside the boot it’s impeccably carpeted, with the correct battery cut-off switch, spare wheel, jack, and original toolkit all in place.
Truly, this interior is magnificent. Utterly delightful throughout, and by far the most relaxing car we’ve ever wafted through London in.
The Saint. Mission: Impossible. Miami Vice. The Hunt for Red October. The Professionals. Wonder Woman. In each of these movies and TV shows, the Silver Cloud III was selected to appear for its formidable presence and unrivalled aura of class.
You can see why; it’s one of those rare car designs within which there simply isn’t a bad angle, it’s glorious to behold from every individual aspect. The swooping lines of the Bentley Continental have been borrowed and refracted through a Rolls-Royce filter, creating something unutterably delectable.
This high-end car has a high-end finish too, with every inch of it being just as it should. The paintwork is outstanding, the panel fit is how a Rolls-Royce should be, and every correct piece of chrome trim is present and untarnished.
The doors and boot close with a reassuring thunk, the butterfly engine lids secure straight and true, and of course the statuesque front grille makes a splendid statement, with the gleaming Spirit of Ecstasy taking pride of place on top.
The sunroof sits perfectly flush and properly sealed when closed. The car wears the correct wheels with unmarked hubcaps and fresh American Classic whitewall tyres.
There are no scuffs, scrapes, scratches or dings, it’s a very beautifully presented car throughout.
The raison d’être of a Rolls-Royce’s powertrain is to be smooth, willing, near-silent, and with all the power you could ever reasonably need.
The company famously never published power figures (we can assume the 6.2-litre V8 to be producing around 220bhp), because the focus was on impeccable smoothness, and that’s just what this example provides.
While not required as the vehicle is over 40 years of age, it comes equipped with a fresh, advisory free MOT from July this year, and is a true testament to the fastidious nature of the vendor. The engine fires instantly, idles in vibration-free quietness, wafts correctly and revs freely when provoked. The automatic transmission is similarly silky-smooth, and it all adds up to a divine driving experience.
The brakes are impressively strong, and perhaps the most impressive part of all is the suspension – the very epitome of cosseting softness, it’s like gliding on a cloud. It is impossible not to relax in this Rolls-Royce.
The Silver Cloud III is a thoroughly attractive proposition for any serious collector, even in ‘standard’ guise (if such a thing can be said to exist).
But this particular example really is a cut above: one of just four examples built in this particular specification, it’s a richly-textured and supremely endearing slice of 1960s coachbuilding culture.
The history is entertainingly traceable, and it’s an absolutely lovely car to drive. And most remarkable of all is the condition: the coachwork is glorious, with the car looking wonderful from every angle, and the interior is magnificent.
One could imagine easing in and cruising down to Monaco’s Hotel de Paris in one gentle squeeze, emerging at the other end pleasantly relaxed and with shirt unruffled.
A car of outstanding quality and luxury, and a unique offering in today’s market.
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1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Two-Door Coupe by James Young
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