Lot 128


1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I Drophead Coupé Adaptation 'Prototype' by H.J. Mulliner

Offered from The 20th Century Collection


€97,750 EUR | Sold

Monaco | Monaco, Monaco



Chassis No.
Body No.
SC 4118
Kuwait Vehicle Registration
  • Offered from The 20th Century Collection
  • The prototype for the H.J. Mulliner Silver Cloud I ‘Adaptation’ design
  • Originally delivered to prominent American enthusiast George E. Wallace
  • A very significant coachbuilt Silver Cloud I, ripe for restoration
Addendum: Please note this lot has entered the EU on a temporary import bond, which must be cancelled either by exporting the lot outside of the EU on an approved Bill of Lading with supporting customs documentation or by paying the applicable VAT and import duties to have the lot remain in the EU.

Veuillez noter que ce lot est entré dans l'UE sous couvert d'une autorisation d'importation temporaire, qui doit être annulée soit en exportant le lot en dehors de l'UE avec une lettre de débarquement approuvé accompagné des documents douaniers nécessaires, soit en payant la TVA et les droits d'importation applicables pour que le lot reste dans l'UE.

The earliest Drophead Coupés on the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I chassis were hand-built by H.J. Mulliner as traditional custom bodies, with only a passing resemblance to the lines of the conventional ‘Standard Steel Saloon’. They were, in turn, relatively costly to build, something that Mulliner eventually rectified by introducing what was known as the Drophead Coupé Adaptation, based on heavily massaged factory body panels.

These cars had a more familial look to them, but as each was thoroughly reworked by Mulliner’s talented artisans and finished to the specification of the original owner, they were still true coachbuilt automobiles. Mulliner introduced the Adaptation at the very tail end of Silver Cloud I production, and accordingly the model was and remains quite a rare automobile. Only 13 examples were produced.

Chassis no. LSJF60, offered here, is the original Mulliner prototype for the Drophead Coupé Adaptation. The build cards, always detailed and fascinating reading, are especially so for this car, as Mulliner was clearly given a great deal of leeway on building the body that they wished. As David Bassoli notes in his standard reference work on these cars, Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, ‘After putting some pressure on Ray Dorey at Crewe, Johnstone obtained standard body shell no. 4118, unpainted, which they set about cutting up literally with a hack saw and carrying out the necessary modifications. Having to cut off the roof off, the body was reinforced at the scuttle and solid mounted on chassis number LSJF60, instead of with the usual flexible mounts. During the subsequent road test, this arrangement was found to be satisfactory in terms of rigidity and noise. The converted body shell was then sent to Crewe, where it went through most of the standard processes of rust proofing and painting, mounting on the chassis, installation of running gear and even much of the interior trimming such as seating and polished wood. In due course, the body had to be returned to H.J. Mulliner just for the installation of the convertible top and its power operation, together with modifications to the interior upholstery and the rear seats and quarters.’

The completed prototype was exhibited at Mulliner’s Chiswick works to overseas dealers, in town to attend the Motor Show, in 1958, and was enthusiastically accepted by the powerful American dealer J.S. Inskip in particular, who reportedly said that he could sell as many of the cars as the coachbuilder and Rolls-Royce would be willing to produce.

Finished in Velvet Green with Light Tan interior and Tan hood, chassis LSJF60 was shipped across the Atlantic and delivered in April 1959 to its original owner, George E. Wallace of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Owner of the Fitchburg Paper Company, Mr. Wallace was obviously a dedicated enthusiast, as he maintained a small vintage automobile collection which also included a Duesenberg Model J among other outstanding motors. Later the car was possessed by Arthur D. Gleason of Hot Springs, Virginia, before joining The 20th Century Collection, in which it has remained largely in storage for many years.

This significant Rolls-Royce is now ripe for restoration to its original livery and specifications. It is almost certainly the most important surviving example of the Drophead Coupé Adaptation, so sought-after and difficult to find on the Silver Cloud I chassis, with wonderful provenance that adds to its distinctive appeal and will make it a sure concours favourite once completed.