Before the wildly successful Silver Cloud, there was the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. While over 7,000 Silver Clouds were made, just 760 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawns rolled out of showrooms between 1949 and 1955. Part of the reason for this model’s comparatively low sales figures is down to the company’s decision to never sell this model within the UK. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a model worth studying, however, as it boasts some Rolls-Royce firsts, such as being the first one to be based off of a Bentley design.
The Silver Dawn’s engine bay was home to two different engines. First was the 4.2-litre inline six-cylinder. In 1951, Rolls-Royce upgraded that engine to 4.6 litres. No official performance data was released, but we do have an idea of what this car could do thanks to an independent magazine. That publication, called The Motor, tested the Silver dawn in 1954 and reported back on its performance specs. The testers achieved a top speed of 94 miles per hour, attaining 60mph in a leisurely 15.2 seconds.
As far as the gearbox, a 4-speed manual was originally the only available transmission. While left-hand drive cars received a column-mounted shifter, right-hand-drive models used a floor-mounted unit. Later, in 1952, an automatic, also with 4 speeds, become optional. Like pretty much everything else, the chassis was shared with its Bentley siblings as well.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn is notable for being the first Rolls offered with a factory body. Of course, custom coach-built bodies were offered as well. As for the factory styling, however, that was also somewhat shared with its Bentley siblings – the Mark VI and the R Type. While some of the body panels were slightly modified, the first several model years were largely identical to the Mark VI. Then, in 1953, the styling was updated to match that of the new R Type. There is the expected level of luxury on the interior, with wood and leather galore.