Kate Moss buys unattractive Rolls-Royce
Kate Moss is a supermodel, well paid to look good in clothes.
Her new-to-her Rolls-Royce is a 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II Mulliner-Park Ward “Chinese Eye” Coupe.
It just isn’t an attractive car, particularly when seen from the back. Ms. Moss’s is black. It looks worse in black than in a lighter color. It looks better from the side than from either the front or the back.
The so-called “Chinese Eye” Rolls – and one look at the front, given the sensibilities of the time, tells you how it got that name – was apparently an effort by Rolls-Royce to produce a modern appearing car. It was produced toward the end of the production run of the Silver Cloud, during production of the Silver Cloud III model and was bodied by Mulliner-Park Ward, the wholly owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce that was devoted to custom bodywork.
In actuality, the Chinese Eye was an effort to juice up sales in the last years of a model’s existence, just as Chevrolet with Commemorative Editions at the end of the Corvette’s model run or Ford does with special edition Mustangs almost from introduction of a new model. The Silver Cloud III was a barely facelifted version of the original Silver Cloud introduced in the early 1950s, but modified slightly to accommodate quad headlights (and with more power and a better GM sourced automatic transmission). Even in the 1950s, the body style of the Silver Cloud had been dated – it had a hunchback style which, even then, had been abandoned everywhere in the world but Crewe.
But making the Silver Cloud appear more modern was not an easy task because it was, in reality, a very old design. Rolls-Royce did have a modern car in the works at the time, the Silver Shadow to be shown in 1965 and introduced in 1966, but the high cowl of the Silver Cloud largely dictated the lines that any car built on its structure would have to take: relatively high body, with a high beltline. In short, you could modify the appearance of the front and the back, but that was about it.
Even so, Bill Mitchell did a much better version of a modern Rolls-Royce than did Rolls-Royce. The Buick Riviera of 1963 captured the essence of British elegance and personal luxury, while the Mulliner-Park Ward “Chinese Eye” coupe ended up just looking weird.
Though it is named for its bizarre headlight arrangement, the car’s most unattractive perspective is from the back. The taillight treatment is something of a cross between the worst of the rear of a Checker cab and a 1959 Dodge.
Nonetheless, it is said that this model is favored among classic car collectors. As fashion and taste are found in different pages of the dictionary because they have different meanings, as well as different spellings, this may explain Ms. Moss’s purchase of the car.
Introduction of the Silver Shadow eliminated the chance for future creations such as this, because it was of unitized body construction. Mulliner-Park Ward became the limited production arm of the Rolls-Royce company, next producing the incredibly tasteful and very perfect Rolls-Royce, the Corniche. Though the Park Ward name seems to have fallen into disuse at Rolls-Royce, the Mulliner name remains alive today. When Rolls-Royce and Bentley were wrenched from each other by BMW and Volkswagen, Mulliner ended up with Bentley.
Today, Mulliner handles all of the personal modifications to Bentleys required to suit the car to the customer’s desires.