One of the most exclusive cars in the world
1965 Silver Cloud III Radford Countryman saloon
The grandest of all Rolls Royce models is the incomparable Silver Cloud series. As they say “every cloud has a silver lining.” It is the single most recognizable automobile in the world. Its stately demeanor and air of aristocracy enhances any occasion. There is no more opulent manner in which to arrive than in the Silver Cloud III. Adding the distinction and rarity of Radford coachcrafting to this revered motorcar, makes it the epitome of Rolls Royce luxury.
Harold Radford & Company Limited was an eminent British coachbuilder that created intricate and comprehensive coachcrafting for luxury British marques in the 1950s and 1960s. He crafted Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles turning them into “Radford Countryman” masterpieces. There were only 328 total Silver Cloud III coachbuilt versions made by eminent coachbuilders, and only 206 long wheelbase variants making these highly collectible automobiles that now sell for six figures.
The 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III bodyshells were a coachcrafter’s delight. This ultra-rare version is the Silver Cloud III Radford Countryman. These are some of the most exclusive automobiles in existence. Limited production hand-crafted coachbuilt motorcars are one of the best automotive investments in today’s markets…that is, if you are lucky enough to find one for sale. This example was sold by Daniel Schmitt & Company out of St. Louis, Missouri…purveyors of the classic car emporium. This Silver Cloud III was restored in its original Burgundy and Antelope Metallic.
The hand-tufted carpets are by Cumberland Stone and are 100% wool. It comes equipped with the car’s original crystal decanters and glassware. The mirror matched veneers are near perfect. Its rear seat resembles a living room sofa. This car was crafted in the old-fashioned manner. The interior was reworked using new custom-stitched leather by Connolly Brothers for a cost exceeding $5,000. The car is equipped with power windows and air conditioning. And the best part is, for all its silence and discretion, this car will never pass unremarked…
Harold Radford & Co LTD of Melton Court South Kensington in London, England were long-established retailers of Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles. GH Radford developed a bespoke coachbuilding company in the late 1940s. They started out hand-crafting new Bentleys with accoutrements to suit the rural lifestyle of the landed gentry, which is a largely historical privileged British social class consisting of land owners who could live entirely off rental income. They often worked only in administrative capacity managing their own real estate or in such professions as politics and the armed forces.
Landed gentry is originally referred to exclusively as members of the upper-class who were land owners. Originally it meant nobility but then came to be used of the lesser nobility in England around 1540. Landed gentry encompasses those members of the land owning classes who are not members of the peerage.
The Bentley Countryman was a luxurious town car, shooting brake, and continental tourer all in one vehicle. After 1952 when the ‘big boot’ models appeared both Bentley and Rolls Royce automobiles were converted. These conversions allowed its owner to entertain everyone from dukes to dustmen…jockeys to jackaroos, at the rear of the vehicle in the member’s car park (British version of parking lot).
These luxurious automobiles were modified with such amenities as front and rear seats that folded together to create a full-sized double bed, tables with mirrors that folded down from rear seats, rear armrests that slid forward revealing cocktail cabinets becoming the table for the glasses, 40 cubic-feet of storage space, and every conceivable item of equipment that would enhance the comfort and convenience of passengers was included.
Being a completely bespoke vehicle, colors, trim, etc. were all the customer’s wishes. Equipment included: electric razor, wash basin with hot & cold water supply, icebox and electric kettle. After 1962 there was a strong mesh dog pen that protected the upholstery! (Can you imagine Rover the pet pooch in a Rolls Royce… in a dog pen?) Radford also converted Aston Martin estate cars and the Mini Cooper. These were sometimes purchased and repainted to match the customer’s Rolls Royce and given to the wives.
The Silver Cloud series was ideal for the coachbuilt bodies. The chassis was a simple steel box section welded together and is extremely rigid. It used independent coil springs in the front and a beam axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. The Silver Cloud Series III standard saloon measures 211.8” in length, rides upon a long 123” wheelbase, and are 75” in width.
Silver Cloud Series III saloons are differentiated from the Series I & II by their quad headlamp layout. They also have a slightly lower bonnet and radiator grille. Non-US versions have a “Silver Cloud III” script on the right bottom side below the boot lid. The 1964 to 1966 models have a revised headlamp surround incorporating a very small “RR” monogram. Rolls Royce never redesigns their cars to make the previous model redundant out of respect for their clientele. Besides…a Rolls Royce never becomes a ‘used car’…it becomes a classic as witnessed by the uniquely bespoke Radford Countryman.
For the 1964 model year, the Series III had minor enhancements, as it had been remodeled the prior year. It received wider front seats for 1964. It retained the regal Rolls Royce stature. Besides…why mess with absolute perfection? It would be like drinking a fine Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1956 out of a Styrofoam cup…
The Silver Cloud Series III is powered by the Rolls Royce 6.2 litre 16-valve V8 engine. It is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors. The compression ratio was increased to 9:1 to accommodate higher octane levels of premium fuel. A nitride hardened crankshaft was used to correct the broken crankshaft issues in earlier Series II V8 engines due to improper lubrication to the main bearings. The engine is mated to GM’s Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission. This was the most powerful post-war Rolls Royce producing 224 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm.
Longitudinal acceleration is estimated at 0-60 mph in 12.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 53.1 seconds with a top speed of 116 mph. It is estimated to do the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.3 seconds. If you compare these figures to those of the Bentley from this genre you will see how spot-on they are…because a Bentley from this period IS a Rolls Royce; however, when quizzed regarding hp…the head honchos at RR reply was always “adequate” but this is to be expected from the makers of the best car in the world, they were not amused when the journalists tried to make a common vehicle out of the eminent Spirit of Ecstasy!
Throughout the evolution of the distinguished Silver Cloud series, it maintained the poised dignity, which is without conjecture, the hallmark of every Rolls Royce. Whether it be the standard saloon or a bespoke coachbuilt saloon such as the Radford Countryman, every Rolls Royce is an exemplary example of fit & finish. The iconic Silver Cloud series is the single most identifiable automobile in the world. These eminent motorcars are as popular today as they were when introduced in 1955.
There is no more formal manner in which to arrive, than in a Rolls Royce. In fact, there is nothing more exclusive than a Rolls Royce…except another Rolls Royce! This is the only motorcar in the world to preclude the restless quest for something more satisfying to replace it with…after all, the quality will remain long after the price has been forgotten –
1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III Radford Countryman
Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt for the beautiful photos