When the management team at Rolls Royce began to wake up to the realities of regrouping immediately following the end of Second World War, it soon became apparent that the company had decided to its adopt a new marketing and production approach.
This change in the direction translated into Rolls-Royce producing higher production volume, lower-priced models to appeal to a changing market, as the era of chauffeur-driven luxury limousine appeared to be feeding into the past.
One of the first examples of this new production policy was the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, alongside its cousin Bentley MK VI.
These were the first cars to roll off the production line at Rolls-Royce new production plant at Crewe, with the first Silver Dawns seeing the light of day late in 1949, some three years after the Bentley MK VI.
Initially, to bring invaluable foreign currency, all of the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawns produced went for export, and it was only in 1953 that Silver Dawns were made available for sale in the UK.
This meant that from the total number of 760 Silver Dawns produced between 1949-55, the majority were left-hand drive, meaning that they were fitted with a column gear change to make it easier for the drivers, while, when the R Type based model became available in the UK as right-hand drives, they were fitted with a floor change.
While the body shape remained virtually unchanged during the car's five-year production run, models produced up to May 1954 came with a different dashboard fascia (dashboard) from the Bentley Mk.VI and even the 'R' Type, as well as being fitted with a single exhaust system.
Later models that were fitted on an SRH chassis series came with the Bentley style fascia as well as a twin exhaust system, standard for the Bentley 'R' Type.
The Rolls Royce Silver Dawn was initially powered by a 4,257 cc in-line six-cylinder engine, although a 4556cc engine was adopted in 1951, coupled with Rolls-Royce’s -GM Hydramatic transmission as an option that was fitted as standard the end of 1952, primarily due to an almost complete demand for this option.
Although not a fast car, with 75mph (120.7 k/pH) being the car’s most comfortable cruising speed, the Silver Dawn was the first post-war Rolls-Royce which the owner, as opposed to the chauffeur, was intended to drive.
Big, reliable and reassuring, but above all well built, the Silver Dawn was a perfect ancestor to the more massive Silver Cloud which was to follow.
The vast majority of bodies were so-called Standard Steel four-door sedans, although coachbuilders such as Park Ward, James Young, H.J. Mulliner, Freestone and Webb and even international companies including Graber, Pininfarina and renowned Paris based coachbuilder Saoutchik displayed their skills.
Between them they created around 60 custom bodied versions of the Silver Dawn, among them drop head coupes, limousines, sedans and even a number of exotic variations on those themes.