Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 145

1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I Drophead Coupe "Honeymoon Express" by Freestone & Webb

  • Chassis no. SGE270
  • Engine no. SCI385
  • Body no. 1827

Sold for $1,347,500


Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

Body Style 3243C. Est. 178 bhp, 4,887 cc F-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, unequal-length wishbone and coil-spring front suspension, solid rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and hydraulic front and mechanical servo-assisted rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 123 in.

  • The most extravagant, streamlined “Jet Age” design on a Rolls-Royce chassis
  • Aptly dubbed “The Honeymoon Express”: designed for two and a week’s luggage
  • One of only two such examples built; the only example available for sale
  • Known history with three private, long-term owners from new
  • Superb, award-winning concours restoration by marque specialists
  • Arguably one of the most famous, sought-after, and romantic of all Silver Clouds


THE HONEYMOON EXPRESS: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

For over three decades, Freestone & Webb of Willesden had survived as one of England’s premiere coachbuilders, especially noted for the superb quality of their work on Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis. By the late 1950s, the company had become part of London dealer Fritz Swain’s company, and was, like many of the few surviving post-war bodymakers, suffering in business. Swain noted that survival, if possible at all, meant trying something new and audacious, and the company’s 1957 Earls Court Motor Show car was exactly that.

Built on the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I chassis, the show car featured modern styling the likes of which had never been seen on a conservative British luxury automobile. Long fenders began at the front of the car, where they formed “hoods” over headlamps set into teardrop-shaped nacelles, and descended in a curve to the rear fenders, where they drew into flared and subtly curvaceous tailfins. Below the door handle on each side, the bodywork swept gently inward, forming a “cove” reminiscent of (dare we say it) the American Corvette. All of this sheetmetal wrapped around an interior sized to comfortably cosset two full-sized adults, in thickly upholstered overstuffed armchairs. Aft of the concealed, power-operated soft top was a massive trunk, all the better to accommodate a week’s luggage for a happy pair.

The car was the smash hit of the show, drawing more attention than virtually anything else on exhibit; reportedly Princess Margaret requested it delivered to her residence for a test drive, and the press flocked to it for photography. They dubbed it the “Honeymoon Express,” a nickname that stuck hard and fast, and that certainly rolled off the tongue better than Freestone & Webb’s “2-Seater Sports Concealed Hood Coupe.”

Unfortunately, all that attention did not translate to additional sales for Freestone & Webb. Fritz Swain eventually dealt the show car to a friend, who bought it as a favor. Only two additional examples of the design were built, another Silver Cloud I, offered here, and a single Bentley S1, both with styling nearly identical to the original “Honeymoon Express.” All three cars survive, with the remaining two (the Bentley version and the other Rolls-Royce) ensconced together in the long-term ownership of one of America’s premiere collections, as a striking testament to the end of the custom coachwork era.

CHASSIS NUMBER SGE270

The second of the two Silver Cloud Is built to the “Honeymoon Express” design, chassis number SGE270 was ordered by London dealers H.R. Owen for Arnold Moreton, a British businessman and high-ranking Mason, to whom it was delivered in June 1958. Actually the final Rolls-Royce built with Freestone & Webb coachwork, the car can easily be distinguished from the earlier “Honeymoon Express” by a black steering wheel, its only notable cosmetic alteration. It bore all the other trademarks of the original design, including the tachometer, power windows and radio aerial, “automatic hood,” and “cubbies” for cocktail accouterments.

Registered in the United Kingdom as “AM 2375,” the coachbuilt Silver Cloud was a frequent sight on the streets of London until 1975, when Mr. Moreton sold it to Charles Altman of New York. Imported stateside by Mr. Altman, the car remained in his ownership until his passing in 1995, and was only sold by his family, to well-known Rolls-Royce dealer Michael Schudroff, in early 2012. Subsequently it was acquired by Orin Smith, who became the third registered owner from new.

As-acquired by Mr. Smith, the Silver Cloud was complete and still impressive, but time had taken its toll on many of its mechanical components, and it determined best-suited for a total restoration. Mr. Smith’s favored firm for such work, respected marque specialists Vantage Motorworks of Miami, performed an exquisite rebuild of the car to original condition, as is documented in photographs on file. Virtually every component was properly rebuilt, including the original engine, while the body, still very solid and in fine condition, was stripped and refinished in Masons Black and Brewster Green, with an interior in Buckskin leather. Every effort was made and delivered to bring the “Honeymoon Express” back to the stunning grandeur of its original concept.

Inspection shows that the work remains virtually flawless today, and exceptional in both its fit and finish, ready for international-class concours appearances which are all but assured. The “cubbies” in the rear compartment still house crystal carafes and glasses, and the proper sets of hand and road tools are fitted, as a show judge would expect them to be. The interior is particularly lush and delicious, with seats as comfortable as one would find in a living room, surrounded by beautiful darkly stained walnut.

With the other Rolls-Royce and sole Bentley examples of this design out of circulation in a long-term private collection, this may well be the only opportunity to acquire this most stunning example of modern design – an extravagant, futuristic Rolls-Royce, designed to accompany all of life’s most beautiful occasions.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more