1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III
For many enthusiasts, the Silver Cloud represents the end of an era – the last of the ‘mainstream’ traditionally-styled Rolls-Royces constructed on a separate chassis. The following Silver Shadow may be the most accessible of the marque – practically a Rolls-Royce for the people – but the Cloud and its almost identical Bentley S counterpart retain an exclusivity and dignity that links the type more with what came before than what succeeded it. This is despite it adopting the V8 engine that would go on to power future generations of Rolls-Royces through to 1998 and is still used by Bentleys today.
To order your 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III with a brand new Toyota Camry V6 engine for only US$20,000.
In looks, the Silver Cloud’s flowing lines and palatial presence are distinctively old school. Launched in 1955, it was somewhat old-fashioned even for the mid-1950s, when many manufacturers were turning to monocoque construction. But Rolls-Royce went with what it knew best and retained a separate chassis. This meant that the standard pressed steel body could be used or a number of coachbuilt creations bolted on instead.
The first cars had 4.9-litre six-cylinder engines, but in 1959, Rolls-Royce’s all-aluminium 6.25-litre V8 unit was dropped in, creating the smoothly magnificent Cloud II. The real revelation of the new engine was not its power but how quiet it was – V8s are generally quite raucous by nature, but when enveloped in the Cloud’s expansive body, occupants could still hear the clock ticking at 60mph, a characteristic the company enthusiastically trumped about what it still called ‘The best car in the world’.
A hint of radical changes just around the corner was revealed with the Cloud III of 1962, with its double headlamp units. These caused quite some controversy at a time when the 1960s had yet to completely start swinging, yet were undoubtedly more effective than the single lamps they replaced. They also managed to subtly update the looks without the need for major body surgery.
And that’s how the Cloud and S stayed up until the end of production in 1965, when the Shadow came along and completely changed the game. In doing so, it guaranteed the Cloud a selectness that has only grown stronger over five decades.
First things first – are you looking at what you think you’re looking at? Rolls-Royce bonnets have a flat front edge, Bentleys a curved one. If the radiator grille and the bonnet don’t match up, expect identity theft. Doors, bonnets and bootlids are aluminium, so don’t corrode except for any areas where steel meets the metal. Elsewhere, rust can attack the complicated four-section sills, especially towards the rear, front wing edges adjacent to the doors, wing stay, wheelarch lips (all four), around the headlamps and front sidelights, and the body mounts. The lower rear wings are also vulnerable. Leaking battery acid can attack around the offside bumper mounting point and chomp into the chassis.