The Silver Dawn was designed primarily for export and was not offered for the domestic market until October 1953. Sharing a standard steel body with the Bentley, it was the first Rolls-Royce to be delivered as a finished car from the factory.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, like its predecessor, the Rolls-Royce Wraith, was an expensive luxury car from the famous British automaker first introduced in 1949. The body structure developed for the Silver Dawn was also used by Bentley in the Bentley Mark VI, which lasted until 1952 and was replaced by the Bentley R Type. Interestingly, until 1953 the car body was attached to the frame with riveting, and later began to be welded. The automobile was deliberately created as an export version, so most of the assembled copies were left-hand drive and with a gear lever on the steering column.
By the start of World War II, Rolls-Royce had become a manufacturer of aircraft engines and also produced a small number of vehicles. During the war, the famous Merlin VI2 engine (Merlin) became the main product of the company and the first gas turbine engines were created. With peace, work in this direction continued. The assembly of vehicles was transferred to a modern plant in Crewe, where at first they produced aircraft engines and manufactured Bentley automobiles. In the first post-war years in Europe, there was no place for luxury. Hardships experienced by automakers were especially severe: they survived as best they could. Manufacturers of luxury vehicles had a particular time of trials։ the demand for their products fell catastrophically. In such difficult conditions in 1949 in GB and at the same time at the World Exhibition in Toronto, Canada, the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn debuted. It was more compact than the brand’s previous automobiles of the company based on the Bentley Mk VI and would now be called badge engineering. However, this was not uncommon in those years as it was a way to reduce production costs and expand the range of models. And in those years, it was very important for Rolls-Royce to increase sales of products.
Following its conservative roots, it looked more like an automobile from the 1930s than a modern post-war automobile. The front doors swung open against traffic. It was a 4-door sedan, and depending on the size of the wheelbase, had a length of 4877 or 5334 mm, and a width of 1753 mm with a mass of 1800 kg. The innovative breakthrough was that it was built already with a factory body – unlike earlier models, which were supplied in the form of a chassis by a third-party coachbuilder so that they would provide the chassis with their luxurious handmade bodies. This, of course, reduced the price of the automobile. However, several models did receive custom bodywork from outside companies. As for the equipment, there was nothing to complain about. The interior was well made and trimmed with wood and leather. The comfort was top-notch. The relatively compact size of the vehicle, coupled with the gear lever on the steering column, made it easy to drive. In general, since the vehicle was a Bentley clone, it was more driver-oriented than the brand’s traditional models. The engine – Inline6 was borrowed from the Silver Wraight model and increased to a volume of 4.257 liters. Power, according to the tradition of the company, was not announced – it was considered “sufficient”. The automobile was able to accelerate up to 100 km/h in 16.2 s, and the maximum speed reached 140 km/h. The automobile was clear and well-controlled on the road – easier than traditional models of the company. The front suspension was independent of double levers, the rear was dependent on semi-elliptical leaf springs. The vehicle was equipped with all-wheel drum brakes. As was mentioned before, the Dawn was focused primarily on export. However, the rich American market was not impressed: it was unusual for local buyers to shift gears manually. The automatic transmission on it appeared only in 1953.
The Silver Dawn was the brand’s first factory-built car built under contract with Pressed Steel Co. If in previous years it was prestigious to sell only the chassis to customers and allow them to choose a coachbuilder, then after the war, this practice gradually disappeared.
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