Monaco

11-12 May 2012

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Lot 350

1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I “Honeymoon Express” Two-Seater Drophead Coupé by Freestone & Webb

  • Chassis no. SGE270
  • Engine no. SE385

Estimate Available Upon Request


178 bhp, 4,887cc F-head six-cylinder engine, two SU carburettors, four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones, semi-elliptic rear springs with electrically controlled shock absorbers, power-assisted steering, and power-assisted hydraulic front and hydro-mechanical rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,124 mm (123")



• One of the rarest and most important post-war, coach built Rolls-Royces in existence

• Sensational original “finned” Freestone & Webb two-seater coachwork with disappearing top

• Christened the “Honeymoon Express” by design journalists at the Earl’s Court Show

• An unrepeatable opportunity; one of only two such Rolls-Royces built

• Only 42,070 original miles after three decades of single ownership



Aside from its breathtaking presentation, the Rolls-Royce we have the pleasure of offering here is exceptionally rare, as one of only one percent of all Silver Clouds to carry truly bespoke coachwork. The body was produced by the highly respected firm of Freestone & Webb and is one of just three with this radically-designed drophead coupé style, two produced for the Cloud I and a third on a Bentley S1 chassis. The firm was a design leader throughout its existence and is especially revered for its creations from the 1920s and 1930s, winning a Gold Medal in the Private Coachbuilders competition an astounding nine years in a row. Their workmanship on this particular chassis, SGE270, is second to none.



The first owner of SGE270 was Arnold Moreton of Manchester, England. A high-ranking Freemason; in 1976, Moreton was installed as Supreme Ruler, Intendent Ruler of the Lancashire Province Western Division and later became Deputy Grand Supreme Ruler, a position he held until his death in 1982. The rolling chassis was delivered to Freestone & Webb in London on 11 March 1958, and Moreton took delivery of the completed car on 16 June. Compared to the more typical four-seater drophead coupés, the Freestone & Webb “Honeymoon Express” truly represented out-of-the-box design. Whilst most mid-1950s Rolls-Royces had graceful, gently rounded side panels, the body sides of this car featured concave coves that stretched from stem to stern, with rear wings that feature aggressive vertical tail fins. Designed for only two passengers, the bucket front seats had a pair of fold-down armrests with adjustable seat backs. This limited seating capacity, which along with the ample boot, lent itself to the “Honeymoon Express” moniker, a name that stuck after design journalists first saw this style début at the Freestone & Webb stand at the Earl’s Court Show.



Finished in two-tone Lugano blue with Silver Chalice coves, chassis SGE270 possesses every convenience. Each door features a round pull-out ashtray. Another smoker’s tray slides out from under the original radio. A pair of cocktail cabinets flanks the rear storage area and each contains a cocktail shaker and four crystal whiskey tumblers. A tilt-up vanity mirror is fitted to the left-side cubby box door, and a pair of gallery posts front the driver’s side open cubby box, perhaps to prevent contents from slipping out on brisk acceleration. Power-assisted steering, along with power windows, was also rare for the time and fitted car radios were not common. This car retains its original Radiomobile “His Master’s Voice” medium- and long-wave radio with power antenna. The spacious luggage compartment is fitted with scarlet wool carpet and leather binding, and an extensive hand tool tray is tucked below the floor. All original road tools and the jack and inspection torch remain in place. Moreton also ordered a unique pair of gauges: an outside temperature thermometer and an altimeter. A tachometer is paired with the speedometer, which was rarely specified for the Silver Cloud.



The scarlet red Connolly leather interior and matching red carpets are fitted with British Wilton wool broadloom. Burled Circassian walnut veneers define the fascia, trim and window sills. Luxury aside, the most fascinating feature on this car is the hydraulic top. Metal flaps on either side “pop” open, along with the rear cover, and allow for the top to effortlessly rise. When lowered, the navy blue canvas power top disappears below the belt line, completely hidden under the electrically operated metal cover. With the top down, rear vision for the driver is completely unobstructed, unlike many European convertibles whose tops retreat to a rather bulky position under the canvas cover.



One must consider this Rolls-Royce then, in the context of its contemporaries. From the fins and coves of the bodywork to the extraordinary interior and upholstery, such design was not only daring in its day but unlike anything the average British motorist would have ever seen before.



Extensive records and original Rolls-Royce, Freestone & Webb and H. R. Owen chassis cards confirm this car’s provenance, as well as the presence from new of every single option. This unique car, like its siblings, is featured in archival publications, including Lawrence Dalton’s Rolls-Royce: The Elegance Continues, Graham Robson’s The Rolls-Royce and Bentley: Coachbuilt Models 1945–1985, Volume 2 and Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, Inc., publication, The Flying Lady, issue 1964/5.



Bespoke motorcars like this one are valued like fine art, antiques and other rare commodities and will always be treasured. One of only two Rolls-Royce Silver Clouds produced with this exceptional drophead coupé body design, chassis SGE270 still carries its original engine, stamped SE385, with only 42,070 miles and even its original British registration plate, AM2375. This example has been in single ownership since it was brought to the United States when its first owner died in 1982. It has been meticulously maintained and offers many more years of enjoyment and appreciation for its next owner. Its place in Rolls-Royce history is assured, and its significance to enthusiasts is impossible to overstate, as this may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire the Honeymoon Express.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle is eligible for import into the UK at a reduced rate of 5% VAT.

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

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+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 9... 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

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... 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. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... 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