…Always completely avant-garde
…Nil fato relinquemus
When one seeks exclusivity…
If you are a connoisseur…it’s Imperial Oscietra or Royal Beluga (North of the Caspian) caviar, Château Lafite Rothschild 1957, no…a Château Margaux 2009 or maybe a Vosne-Romanée just for show… and of course a limited edition Cohiba Behike or a Gurkha Black Dragon.
Then… an “out of the box” Rolls Royce or Bentley is not intriguing. When the best just isn’t good enough and exclusivity in a motorcar is sought…only a custom coachbuilt version is the remedy. HJ Mulliner and Park Ward design studios created luxury motorcars of absolute distinction. They are two of the most eminent coachbuilders in automotive history. Every Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcar they have transformed have all become cherished bespoke automotive masterworks.
1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud Flying Spur
A superb motorcar is desirable…but even more desirable, is a superb motorcar offered in so many exquisite variations. They are precisely matched to the client’s requisites and personal taste. One need not think in terms of “only” a Rolls Royce or Bentley…but think in terms of their “particular” Rolls Royce or Bentley. Each coachbuilt motorcar is an instant collectible. Classic automobiles have become an extremely lucrative investment – a coachcrafted classic is one of a kind automotive art – dealers have experienced a positive surge in demand.
1961 Bentley Park Ward Fixedhead coupe
The custom coachbuilder’s primary focus is to create an automobile of unsurpassed luxury and elegance. This gives the client a refreshing degree of freedom to contrive a one of a kind vehicle to suit their fancy. This type of client isn’t intrigued with the ephemerality of annual styling changes and artificial novelty. They desire a timeless automobile design…like no other. The singular character of a unique, coachbuilt automobile reflects this clarity and intensity of purpose. The vast diversity of the craft is by no means a divergence in standards.
1960 Bentley S2 HJ Mulliner Coupe
When the best isn’t good enough…Mulliner Park Ward studios in London offered distinctive coachbuilding for Rolls Royce and Bentley chassis. An extra special body style for these fine automobiles is the two-door Fixedhead and Drophead coupe. A coupe version had to be specially hand-crafted in a highly bespoke manner. Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars are usually built in four-door saloon body styles. Mulliner Park Ward created automotive masterpieces for Rolls Royce and Bentley models when the marque was built as body on frame design.
Bentley and Rolls Royce are chic…not to mention glamorous automobiles. A first time buyer gets a kick out of either – the new owner is excited… just because. After this, something more elaborate is sought. Before monocoque construction began for the two brands in the mid-1960s, coachbuilders could purchase a chassis and create a virtual rolling masterpiece for the client. The artisans with HJ Mulliner and Park Ward are the most revered coachbuilders and purveyors in the art of vehicle personalization. This elite sophistication is among the last of the genuine coachcrafters…they have vanished into a world where this trade no longer exists –
Park Ward was established in 1919 in the UK and bodied a variety of automobiles in the 1920s. Rolls Royce purchased Park Ward in 1939. The coachbuilder was already in contract with W.O. Bentley in the 1920s supplying bodyshells. After Rolls Royce took over Bentley in 1931, they acquired patents and techniques for coachwork which were firsts to the industry. Park Ward developed a special design for all-steel saloons. The patented technique uses “Silentbloc” rubber bushings to reduce road noise, road shock, and vibration before it intrudes the passenger cell. These bodies were used for Bentley and Rolls Royce models.
HJ Mulliner, also an eminent British coachbuilder in the UK, was established in 1897 building carriages. As the ‘horse-less carriage’ emerged, they hand-crafted bodies for various high-end automobile makers. Mulliner custom bodied a Silver Ghost for the Honorable Charles Stewart Rolls. By the 1930s, Mulliner’s entire production output was fitted to Rolls Royce and Bentley chassis. Rolls Royce acquired HJ Mulliner in 1959.
The company was merged with Park Ward in 1961 to form the formidable Mulliner Park Ward (MPW) association. Mulliner is now the in-house personal commissioning department exclusively for Bentley Motors Limited. Mulliner no longer creates bespoke coach-crafting working with Bentley, they are more of a “trim level” designer.
It is William MacDonald Park, Charles Ward, and Henry Jervis Mulliner that laid the foundation for one of the most prodigious custom coachbuilders in automotive history. Their names will live forever in association with the finest automobiles in the world – These are by no means “ditch and dash” motorcars –
1961 Bentley Continental MPW aluminium Drophead coupe
Two of Mulliner Park Ward’s investment grade motorcars are based upon the hand-built aluminium-bodied Bentley Continental “S” chassis. Here’s an interesting fact to consider, up to this period, Rolls Royce motorcars ‘inspired’ Bentley motorcar design…This is the beautiful exception to the rule.
The Rolls Royce variant of this aluminum-bodied design is built upon the Silver Cloud chassis but based upon the Bentley Continental version. Aluminium is a favorite medium among coachbuilders because it is lightweight and extremely versatile with contours as you may see. The lightweight aluminium bodyshells not only makes them faster than their steel-bodied counterparts, but also increases their aerodynamics.
1965 Rolls Royce MPW aluminium Fixedhead coupe
Mulliner Park Ward designed and blue printed many different two-door Fixedhead and Drophead coupe body styles. Bentley badged versions include the aluminium-bodied Continentals and Bentley “T” models. The Rolls Royce variants are bodied as Silver Cloud MPW, Silver Shadow MPW, and…lest we forget, the iconic and unforgettable Corniche models.
Rolls Royce Corniche Coachbuilt Drophead coupe
Bentley Corniche Coachbuilt Drophead coupe
1967 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow MPW Fixedhead coupe
Mulliner Park Ward is one of the first coachbuilders to modify the Silver Shadow four-door saloon into a two-door configuration. James young built a version of the Shadow as a coupe at a highly restricted pace not exceeding 26 vehicles. It appears a bit strange and austere when placed side by side with the Mulliner Park Ward version.
The MPW version sculpted the waist rail to include a graceful “cupid’s bow’ into the bodywork. The Silver Shadow MPW was renamed Corniche in 1971 and in 1985 Continental for Bentley models. The Corniche is one of the longest running and most prominent production series in the history of the brand. A Corniche remains among the most popular ultra-luxury motorcars on the planet –
Contrast of the MPW with the James Young versions
1966 Silver Shadow James Young Fixedhead coupe
This James Young version was retro-fitted with Series II bumpers
Rolls Royce Corniche Coachbuilt Drophead coupe
Bentley Corniche Coachbuilt Drophead coupe
1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud Mulliner Flying Spur
HJ Mulliner created aluminium bodied four-door saloons as Continental Flying Spurs. Rolls Royce and Bentley chassis were used to build bespoke standards of excellence. The Continental Flying Spur saloons were hand-crafted from 1957 until 1966. Coachbuilt vehicles such as these serve as a measure by which all luxury automobiles are judged. These elegant saloons have a near limousine spaciousness and atmosphere. This unique four-door body style uses a different roof style augmented by thinner “C” pillars and a ‘6-window’ design.
The Flying Spur is further distinguished by a lower overall silhouette. It has a lower waist rail, more sculpted rear quarter panels, a higher rear deck lid, and modified tail lamps. The coachbuilder retained the identities of each brand. The epochal Spirit of Ecstasy and flamboyant Flying “B” atop the signature radiator grilles pronounce each distinctively. Understated, yet exquisite – the Mulliner Continental Flying Spurs are highly sought – they command six figures today and are still appreciating positively. Rolls Royce does not acknowledge its body style as “Continental” with brand nomenclature. It is simply known as the Silver Cloud Flying Spur.
1963 Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Mulliner Park Ward could refresh the client’s existing vehicle. Custom coachbuilders not only practiced their trade on a brand new chassis, but also restored or modified an existing vehicle completely to client specification. The Bentley Continental S2 featured is bodied as a 1960 vintage with an S3 face lift. After all…who knows a coachbuilt vehicle better than the artisans themselves that created it…right?
This talented coachbuilder could be commissioned to perform any service a collectible motorcar required. Whether it be a simple re-dye to the leather hides…restoration or custom wood veneer services…new lambswool Wilton hand-tufted carpeting, or a major 100% frame-off restoration – Mulliner Park Ward expedited services second to none. Notable coachbuilders competing in the art as eminent as MPW are Thrupp & Maberly, Hooper & Company, Freestone & Webb, and James Young/Jack Barclay LTD. They all worked magic with Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars.
Rolls Royce “Honeymoon Express” by Freestone & Webb
Your lifestyle is unique…your motorcar should be as well. When one drives a Rolls Royce or Bentley, they seek more than a mere luxury automobile. When the best isn’t good enough, there are alternatives. Automobile trends become even more transient as the styles change. A classic coachbuilt motorcar is not only rewarding to own but is also a lucrative investment.
They are distinctive by design and are the absolute epitome of exclusivity and supremacy – these classic motorcars became legends in their own time. HJ Mulliner and Park Ward are illustrious artisans who created automotive history. Every MPW transformation appreciates positively in value and prestige. A coach-crafted motorcar is built painstakingly meticulous, slowly and precisely as required to meet the highly bespoke expectations of the client. A classic custom crafted Rolls Royce or Bentley is rich with character and presence that will always remain unique because each is a one of a kind masterpiece –
These automotive masterpieces are extremely rare. A Special thanks goes out to the caretakers of the world: Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum, Vantage Motorworks Inc, JD Classics, Daniel Donovan Classics UK, Balmoral UK, and Daniel Schmitt & Co for the use of these lovely photographs from their archives.
The new Bentley Mulsanne saloon
The new Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead coupe
NotoriousLuxury…”Nil fato relinquemus”