Among those who saw their future
in the bespoke motorcar
was J. Gurney Nutting, a Croydon builder and joiner,
but unlike most of the newcomers his company prospered.
No small credit for this must be
taken by his talented stylist
and designer A. E. 'Mac' McNeil, and within a decade the company had established a reputation quite equal to that of
firms which had already been in business for over a century.
Initially the works were located
in Oval Road, Croydon,
when fire destroyed the premises in 1923 the company - at that time titled J. Gurney Nutting & Company Ltd - moved to
premises in Elystan Street, Chelsea. Two years later the first Rolls-Royce body was built, and it was not long before the company was supplying coachwork to the Duke of York,
Prince George, and other members of the Royal Family. A Weymann fabric saloon on a new Phantom Rolls-Royce for Edward, Prince of Wales
(later to become King Edward VIII )
followed, and by the early thirties the company held the
In 1931 the company secured the
contract for the
streamlined all-enveloping body of Sir Malcolm Campell's
Land Speed Record car, 'Bluebird'.
By 1945, Gurney Nutting was a sick
man nearing the end of his life, but he was anxious to ensure in those
days left to him that
not only should his company recommence production of bespoke coachwork, but that it should do under the aegis of a suitable parent. He had lost McNeil to De Havilland aircraft upon the outbreak of war and although the designer had returned to the motor industry on the cessation of hostilities, his services had
been secured by Jack Barclay for James Young Ltd.
Following his death in 1946
the company was renamed
Gurney Nutting Ltd, and the premises were mainly employed
in the refurbishment of Barclay-owned Rolls-Royce and
Bentley cars which had been laid up for the duration of the
Following the removal of Jack Barclay (Service) Ltd to
Merton and the demolition of Lacland Place, Gurney Nutting
Ltd. were also accomodated there and production of bodies recommenced on a limited scale. After McNeil had been
appointed Chief Designer to both companies, this acivity proceeded in close collaboration with James Young Ltd.
Timbers were cut in the latters Bromley wood mill and
transported to Merton for assembly and wings were
manufactured both at Bromley and Merton.
Other activities during this period
included the construction
of a number of composite bodies for long-distance passenger coaches and a batch of delivery vans for
The Evening Standard.
Windovers were established in Huntingdon in the 1796 and were the originators and patentees of a great number of designs and improvements in coachbuilding before the motor car. Once the motoring era had arrived it was realised that Huntingdon was too far from the source of clients and chassis, and as a result a factory was aquired in the early twenties at Collindale near London.
In this factory were built the bodies
for mounting on Rolls-Royce chassis, many
going to India as Windovers had a large clientel among Indian Princes.
During the 1939-45 War they concentrated on aircraft component manufacture, after which they turned their attention to motor coach body construction and one of their coaches was selected
by the Council of Industial Design to be exhibited in the
Transport Pavillion at the Festival of Britain, 1951.
Coachbuilding on Rolls-Royce chassis
continued after the war
until 1956 when the company was taken over by Henleys Ltd., and all the coachbuilding, private and commercial ended.
By 1904 Hoopers
& Co (Coachbuilders) Ltd, had established
showrooms in St James Street in Londons West End
and their coachbuilding factory at Chelsea was the
biggest of its kind in London
Their clients included
The Emperor of Japan, The King of Egypt and the
Shah of Persia
They exhibited 3 models at the 1959
but these were in the nature of a swan song.
The models were never repeated, and that year
Hoopers ceased finally to make coachwork for
"royal and distinguished patrons"
His premises were in Chandos Street off
George III gave Barkers many orders and they built
more than twenty carriages for Queen Victoria
Barkers were associated with Rolls-Royce from the
beginning. In 1903 C.S.Rolls & Co issued a statement
"all Rolls-Royce cars will be fitted with Barker's bodies"
In 1909 barkers moved to
Olaf Street, Sheperds Bush, London
and opened showrooms in
South Audley Street, Mayfair.
With the decline in demand for specialised
and the rise in operating costs, Barkers finanly went into
liquidation in 1938.
They were then taken over by Hoopers
For his was the century in which men like architect Robert Adams, furniture designer Thomas Chippendale and potter Josiah Wedgwood flourished.
Master craftsmen who, encouraged by wealthy and discerning patronage, added an aesthetic and artistic dimension which elevated the merely functional to something of supreme and lasting worth.
Mr Mulliner was of a similar kind.
His carriages were superbly built of the finest materials for a clientele that insisted on the best.
Succeeding generations subscribed to the same high ideals and in due course Mr H J Mulliner was to set up his own coachbuilding company in 1900 and apply Mulliner standard to the new horseless carriage.
The superlative chassis built by Rolls-Royce were those most frequently specified by his distinguished customers.
The same was to be true for the high class coachbuilding concern established by Mr Park and Mr Ward in 1919.
In fact, the association between the two coachbuilders and the best car in the world was to develop to the point where first, in 1939, Park Ward and then, twenty years later, H J Mulliner became part of the Rolls-Royce company.
It is entirely appropriate, because it speaks not only of an impeccable pedigree but also of centuries old skills which, under the aegis of the company that is now Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, are proudly maintained and honoured still.
However, sub-assemblies are still welded by hand.Microscopic flaws in panel surfaces continue to be sought out by finger-tips sensitive almost to a micron and persuaded back into shape by a deft tap from the panel-beater's hammer. Gaps between doors (loaded with weights to simulate their fully assembled condition) and apertures are still hand filled to thousandths of an inch.
The result is a body constructed to the highest standard, seamless, entirely free of visible panel joins.
During the course of the six month long assembly process, this body will become the medium through which other crafts are displayed.
Crafts like that of the coach painter for example. Over a period of ten days, a perfect finish is produced seemingly fathoms deep, founded upon many layers of primers, fillers and anti-corrosion treatments. The work is crowned by the application of decorative coachlines, every one hand painted with an artist's fiche.
Crafts like that of thecoach trimmer. Creator of that uniquely sumptuous interior ambience which comes from the bringing together of fourteen fine blemish free hides (the supliers have long since learned not to send any other sort),precisely fitted Wilton carpet and rugs of luxurious depth.
Mulliner Park Ward are justly proud
of the great richness of their choice burr walnut veneers. They are no
less proud of the skill with which veneer cross-banding and inlays are
combined to produce facias, door waist rails and other fittings which are
so symbolic of the whole motor car.
Finally, the crafts of the engineer and electrician.Those who endow the car with all major mechanical components during the brief excursion to principal Rolls-Royce Motor Cars factory at Crewe, England which forms a part of the assembly schedule.
A VERY PERSONAL MOTOR CAR
Coachbuilders have long prided themselves on their ability to build cars which exactly match an owner's requirements and so give full expression to his or her taste and personality.
While it is no longer possible for customers to almost design their own cars - the complexities of modern engineering and the far-reaching effects of safety legislation make sure of that - Mulliner Park Ward still fully understand the desire forself-expression and exclusivity.
That is why a very wide choice of finishes and features are offered.
The standard paint range offered for convertible models, for example, has no fewer than twenty nine colours.
The power operated hood may be covered in one of twelve Everflex cloths or four mohair.There is a choice of seven colours for the interior headlining.
For the interior, the customer has a selection of eighteen hide colours from which to choose and is free to order contrasting colours for piping and other elements of the leather trim.
Even the degree of figuring on the burr walnut veneer may be specified. The depth of colour too. Bird's eye maple, mahogany and coloured lacquer are available as alternatives to walnut.
Also, although the Corniche III and Continental are very comprehensively equipped as standard, there is an extensive list of optional or extra appointments which can be incorporated during assembly.
True to their past, Mulliner Park Ward are also happy to consider requests for non-standard finished and features.
Special paint colours are often ordered and they can be matched to a sample or reference provided by the customer.
As long as legislative requirements or engineering integrity are not compromised, Mulliner Park Ward designers and craftsmen will use all their skill, ingenuity and experience to realise ideas and requests put to them through Rolls Royce and Bentley distributors.
Television and video installations, secret document compartments and detachable drink trays are typical of the requirements that have become reality to the delight of owners.
The very personal motor car. It is part of the tradition of coachbuilding.
ROLLS-ROYCE CORNICHE AND BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
The Mulliner Park Ward convertibles.
Few motoring experiences can match those to be gained in travelling far and fast in a Rolls-Royce Corniche or Bentley Continental.
In part, this can be attributed
to the superb dynamic
qualities and great refinement which characterises all the latest Rolls-Royce and Bentley models; in part it is due
to the comfort, cosseting luxury and carefully planned appointments of the Mulliner Park Ward coach work.
Only seven convertibles are completed
each week. Every
one the culmination of a six month long build process.
The Corniche and Continental are
motor cars of timeless elegance. Even the
most casual glance leaves a lasting impression of the beauty of classic
lines owing nothing to fickle fashion. Closer inspection reveals the no
less classic beauty of Mulliner Park Ward craftsmanship both inside
From the flawless fit and finish
of the hand assembled
body to the immaculate presentation of wood and hide,
the convertible offers striking testimony to the way the traditional arts of the coachbuilder thrive at the London works of Mulliner Park Ward.
Mulliner Park Ward coachwork and
excellence of Rolls-Royce engineering.A supremely harmonious combination which makes a Rolls-Royce Corniche III or Bentley Continental convertible a
particular joy to own.
ROLLS ROYCE SILVER SPUR
Limited edition by Mulliner Park Ward.
The Mulliner Park Ward edition of
Silver Spur is a very exclusive motor car. Fewer than one hundred were built for all world markets.
It is a car of great style and presence
by Bordeaux red painwork, colour matched bumpers and headlamp surrounds and hand made stainless steel finishers to the sills and wheel-arches.
Inside, the coachbuilder has exercised his time honoured crafts to gladden the eye.
Specially selected and very rare "starburst" burr walnut veneers with silver and boxwood inlaysare applied to facia, door panels, waist rails and picnic tables.Silver RR monogramsreveal the attention to detail which is typical
of Mulliner Park Ward.
Magnolia hide upholstery and head-lining
by the contrasting maroon of piping, facia top roll, carpet
In specifying the interior appointments, nothing has been overlooked.
Among a host of features are a special audio system incorporaing a compact disc player, a cocktail cabinet, a refrigerated drinks storage compartment and, within the right-hand picnic table, a cigar compartment complete with cutter and humidor.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Spur
by Mulliner Park Ward.
There is no finer motor car for those who are as likely to
be driven as to drive.
One of the body designs developed by Freestone and Webb
became known as the "Top Hat".
The firm also had a hand in popularising the "razor edge"
During World War II the company switched to aircraft
production, mainly working on Spitfire wing tips.
Freestone and Webb exhibited regularly at the London
Motor Show and for nine consecutive years won the Gold
Medal in the private Coachbuilders competition.
On the death of A J Webb in 1955 the company was taken
over by H R Owen Ltd of Berkeley Street London W1,
but continued to build bodies only until 1958.
Motor Car body contruction started
around the turn of the century,
a Velox car with a Cockshoot body was exhibited at the Agricultural Hall,
Islington in 1903, and at about this time an agency was held for renault cars
for which many bodies were built.
With the advent of the Silver Ghost,
Cockshoots secured the agency for
East Lancashire and Cheshire and thereafter much of the companys production
was linked to the building of bodies for Rolls-Royce chassis.
Following the war a substantial
number of bodies were built for the Silver Ghost
and later for the Twenty, but the demand for special bodies diminished and by the outbreak of World War II contruction of coachwork for mounting on Rolls-Royce chassis was very limited.