Considered special even amongst other luxury car brands, Rolls-Royce’s products have a well-deserved reputation for quality. That extends even to the ‘baby’ Rolls, the Ghost. But while classic Rolls-Royce cars aren’t as advanced as their successors, they can still chauffeur A-list clientele in luxurious comfort. And as Jay Leno explains in his latest video, that’s exactly what John Frankenheimer’s 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III did.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud was the end of an era and the dawn of a new one
While it’s not impossible to order a coach-built Rolls-Royce today, it’s the exception rather than the rule. But it was exactly the opposite in the automobile’s early days when automakers sold bare chassis and coachbuilders like Mulliner added the body and interior. For Rolls-Royce, that tradition essentially ended with the Silver Cloud, specifically the later models, Hagerty explains.
However, while the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud more or less closed the book on one hallmark, it opened the door to another. The earliest examples—the Silver Cloud I models—have inline-six engines designed by W.O. Bentley, Automobile reports. Yes, the same W.O. that founded Bentley; remember, the two brands have a common history.
But in 1959, the Silver Cloud II introduced the Rolls-Royce 6.2-liter V8, “literally transforming the car,” RM Sotheby’s says. This V8 would later become the venerable 6.75-liter Bentley V8 used in cars like the Arnage. In period, Rolls-Royce never described the engine’s output as anything other than “adequate.” Nevertheless, a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III was capable of triple-digit speeds back in the day.
Speed, though, isn’t the point of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III. While you won’t find massaging seats in these cars, there are power windows, power steering and brakes, a power-operated sunroof. There’s also plenty of leather, metal, and wood as well as wool carpeting. The rear passengers also enjoy fold-out wood writing tables and rear speakers. Plus, in addition to more power, the later Silver Cloud IIIs have more interior space, Hagerty notes, and optional A/C.
A 1965 Silver Cloud III is “what people think of when they think of a Rolls-Royce,” Jay Leno says
That last feature was the main reason why Hollywood director John Frankenheimer bought his 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III over a Bentley, Hagerty explains. He didn’t fit well behind the wheel of the latter. But as Jay Leno explains in the video below, Frankenheimer’s car is about more than space.
Frankenheimer loved his Silver Cloud III so much, he had the car shipped to “all the film sites,” Jay Leno says. And many of his films’ stars were driven around in it over the years. Robert F. Kennedy would have been, too. But despite its age, the Rolls only has 27,000 miles on the clock. As a result, it’s in remarkably good shape, with a 100% original interior. Even the paint is likely original, Jay Leno notes, though the radiator is likely a replacement. And the radio is a modern unit.
There are a few downsides to the 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, Jay Leno says. That 6.2-liter V8 is more powerful than an inline-six, but it’s also “kinda crammed in [the engine bay],” making maintenance more difficult. And the electric motors for the windows are noisier than you might expect; it’s why the Mercedes-Benz 600 uses hydraulics. But the powertrain mechanics are fairly robust and simple to maintain.
On the road, the 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III has what Jay Leno calls “the Grey Poupon look.” To paraphrase, it looks like a stereotypical “rich guy’s car,” he says. But that’s because it has the material quality and comfort to back the image up. There’s no plastic anywhere and everything fits together tightly. And while it’s not the best-handling or fastest car, the Silver Cloud is still impressively comfortable with an SUV-like seating position. Jay Leno describes it as “like being in your library at home.”
A well-maintained example doesn’t necessarily cost a lot
As Jay Leno notes in his video, the interior of a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is significantly more expensive to refurbish than the powertrain. And it’s not unusual, he says, to pay more to restore the interior than for the whole car. But a good-condition Silver Cloud is still relatively affordable.
Although convertible (‘drophead’) models command a noticeable premium, hard-top Silver Clouds are easier on the wallet. A good-to-excellent condition Silver Cloud III costs anywhere from $60K-$90K, Hagerty notes. It’s not the cheapest old Rolls-Royce, but it’s still a classy luxury car with star power.
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