- Delivered new as the De Portago and Martin-Montis family’s Rolls-Royce for Europe
- Rare and highly desirable period “Countryman” conversion by Harold Radford (Coachbuilders) Ltd
- Ordered new by the husband of Olga Beatrice Leighton, mother of racing driver Alfonso de Portago
- Numerous special features including fold-flat front and rear seats and a boot-mounted picnic table
- One of 2,238 Silver Cloud Is built between 1955 and 1958
Launched in April 1955, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I represented one of the most luxurious means of transport, both for those who chose to be chauffeured, and for the more enthusiastic owner-driver. Powered by the firm’s silky-smooth 4.9-litre inline six-cylinder engine paired with a GM Hydramatic automatic gearbox, the Silver Cloud’s tried-and-tested mechanicals were clothed in elegantly styled, four-door, Standard Pressed Steel coachwork penned by John Blatchley. Though this body style comprised the lion’s share of the 2,238 examples built until 1958, greater personalisation was of course available to those of sufficient means.
One such customer was Isidro Martin-Montis, a Spanish aristocrat living in St Moritz, who, factory records show, ordered chassis “LSFE 85” via Garage de l’Athénée in Geneva, Switzerland. Specified with Rolls-Royce’s factory coachwork, finished in two-tone Black Pearl over Tudor Grey with matching Grey upholstery, the left-hand-drive example would be further enhanced by Harold Radford (Coachbuilders) Ltd. On 29 August 1957, factory records show that chassis “LSFE 85” was delivered to Lillie Hall, a former ice-skating rink-turned-Rolls-Royce repair depot that served as a staging post from which rolling chassis and complete cars were sent on for bespoke coachwork.
Harold Radford was known for adapting Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars to better suit their owners’ lifestyles, with a particular lean towards country pursuits. “LSFE 85” was so customised with several “Countryman” luxury appointments. While with Radford, the Silver Cloud received modified front and rear seat squabs that folded individually—a trademark of the Countryman—serving to vastly increase space in the luggage compartment, while also allowing the owner to use the forward cabin as sleeping quarters. In addition, the front seats boasted compartments with storage for several bottles of wine, while the rear doors were fitted with lockers. To the rear, a boot-mounted picnic table that folded away discreetly was installed. The modifications complemented factory options that included an electric aerial, power-assisted steering, and conversion of the speedometer from miles to kilometres.
Factory records note that the Radford accoutrement added £910 6s 6d to the not inconsiderable £3,590 cost of the car itself, though Mr Martin-Montis, based at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz and clearly a preferred customer, enjoyed a discount. Rolls-Royce records state that the car was transferred to its new owner on 3 October 1957, with Crewe’s ledgers noting an invoice, entered on 15 July the following year, for shipping of the car from Dover to Dunkirk. Harold Radford, meanwhile, benefited from a £125 credit for non-supply of the front and rear seats.
The Rolls-Royce returns to Europe after a recent spell in the United States, representing a rare opportunity to acquire a left-hand-drive Silver Cloud I with modifications by Radford—desirable features that only add to the enduring appeal of Rolls-Royce’s magnificent luxury saloon.