1951 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn


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This bespoke Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn sporting Coupe by Pininfarina was the worlds most expensive car when built in the early 1950s and it is totally unique. The speedometer shows a believed genuine 5,179 kilometres and this Rolls-Royce would be welcome at the world's most prestigious events.

Immediately after World War II the managing director of Rolls-Royce, Sir Arthur Sidgreaves, decided to rationalise the Bentley and Rolls-Royce range. The first cars were the Silver Dawn and the Bentley MK VI. They used the same chassis and running gear with minimal performance adaptions for the MK VI. Pressed steel bodies were produced by the company and these entry level luxury vehicles gave the company considerable success worldwide.

Chassis's were available to purchase for discerning clients and these were shipped to various approved coachbuilders who manufactured cars to order. The volume of the chassis's being ordered became noticible and the company decided that they should offer a limited range of designs through their own or associated coachbuilders.  Sidgreaves had introduced in the mid thirties a sporting range on the Rolls-Royce PII chassis and wanted to re-introduce the Rolls-Royce Continental on the rationalised platform and instructed the design team to come up with some ideas.

Pininfarina had manufactured coachbuilt bodies on the PII and the MK VI platforms and had an important client called Signor Luigi Bressani from Milan. It was Mr Bressani who commissioned this one-off Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn Sports Coupe.

Chassis SCA-43 was fitted with the engine number S-90-A and split skirt pistons were specified, along with the speedometer in kilometres. The chassis was handed over to the shippers on the 30th August, 1950 and sent to Farina in Turin through the official Italian Rolls-Royce dealer and inspector Fernando Martoralli. The car was completed and then exhibited at the Torino motor show in April 1951.

Further discussions between Rolls-Royce and Pininfarina were short lived as the cost of the Coupe quoted was around ten thousand pounds. To put this into context, when the H J Mulliner version of the R-Type Bentley Continental later appeared it was offered at about a third of this price. Manufacturing in Italy just was not feasible, Pininfarina had just signed a contract with Ferrari to produce their coachwork and currency fluctuations at the time of the Italian Lira made things unworkable.
Rolls-Royce then made a decision to proceed with the R-Type Bentley Continental, probably as this was their sports car brand and the company then went on to authorise over 200 Continentals.

Chassis SCA-43 seemed to disappear after the 1951 exhibition in Turin, with few details as to the whereabouts available, and many attempts were made to find this unique car by numerous parties. Following considerable research, it was purchased by the vendor from the original owner's relatives and then treated to a careful and sympathetic restoration. Following the restoration, it was invited to the Warren Concours De Elegance in May 2014, where it was placed first in class and runner up for the entire event. Opportunities to purchase unique motorcars such as this Rolls-Royce are few and far between. The current design team for the new Rolls-Royce Wraith Coupe recently described how this iconic Pininfarina design of SCA-43 was an influence on the current Wraith Coupe during a press conference.

Silverstone auctions are delighted to offer this special car for public sale for the very first time in its esteemed history.