1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I Estate Car by H.J. Mulliner and Radford
Amelia Island - A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
- One of just two original examples built on a short-wheelbase chassis
- Factory left-hand drive with numerous bespoke features and Radford accouterments
- Known ownership history with four owners from new
- Wonderful, extensive ownership documentation, including original guarantee
As long as Rolls-Royces have existed, wealthy clients have been using them as the basis for not only their limousines and sedans, but also for “shooting brakes” – gentlemen’s wagons for the hunt. The tradition continued into the late 1950s with coachbuilder H.J. Mulliner’s luxurious estate cars, built on Silver Cloud I chassis in collaboration with the London shop of Harold Radford.
Four of these sumptuously outfitted estate cars were produced, two each on standard and long-wheelbase chassis, both by modifying the factory’s “Standard Steel Saloon” coachwork. The lower portion of the body was largely unaltered, with the greenhouse above the beltline extended upward and rearward through the cargo area to form the large luggage space typical of a “shooting brake.” The tailgate was horizontally split into two separate panels, below the rear windows, one of which is hinged up and the other one down.
This fetching example was supplied on 8 May 1959, to original owner Robert L. McCormick of Wichita, Kansas, who intended to use it for regular travel all over North America. Typical of a “Radford-ized” Silver Cloud, it was lavished with one-off features, which included a Webasto folding fabric sunroof with wind deflector, factory air conditioning, a 202R radio, Marchal sidelights, coat hangers, and special Radford-fitted seats. The rear seats, in particular, could be folded flat, accommodating luggage up to six feet long. Fittingly for a Rolls, final delivery to the United States was aboard the fabled Cunard flagship Queen Elizabeth.
The estate car remained with Mr. McCormick until December 1965, when it was sold to Lewis M. Schott of New York City. Writing from the Broadview Motor Hotel to his car’s new owner, Mr. McCormick explained the salient points of the coachbuilt wagon, noting, among other gems:
The Radford conversion is a “complete job.” I will explain to your chauffeur and secretary how it makes into beds, etc., etc.
I’ll explain the 3-way horn switch to your employees. I used the loud horn for “blasting” livestock off the Mexican highways.
Finally, I hope you have as much fun out of the car as I have had. It should go 200,000 miles without work on it . . . . A serious sacroiliac precludes long motor trips for me for a few years, and I’m an unhappy warrior when I think about it.
Mr. Schott retained the Silver Cloud estate car until 2007, when respected Florida Rolls-Royce expert Richard Gorman convinced him to sell after several years of pursuit. True to Mr. McCormick’s word, the car had run over 116,000 miles, quite comfortably. Mr. Gorman kept the car as one of his personal automobiles for four years, before selling it to Orin Smith, who became the latest and fourth private owner from new. He submitted the car to Mr. Gorman’s Vantage Motorworks for a thorough restoration, lasting over 18 months, liveried in Velvet Green and Sage with Parchment leather interior piped in Velvet Green, and tan wool carpets with matching mouton overlays. As part of this restoration the air conditioning was upgraded using one of Vantage’s improved systems, for more efficient modern driving use.
The car’s presentation is overall very authentic, down to the exceptional woodwork of the interior, and a period-correct set of suitcases stashed in the rear, and is beautifully finished both inside and out, with only light road wear visible underneath. It is offered with its original owner’s handbook, the proper set of hand tools, and a collection of documentation that includes ownership records and the original Rolls-Royce guarantee to Mr. McCormick.
Numerous Rolls-Royce shooting brakes exist, but many of them are crude later conversions. This car is a true and authentic coachbuilt original, created to the exacting specifications of its original owner, and restored to that same high standard – air horns and all. Errant cattle, consider yourselves warned.