John Frankenheimer is probably best know among car enthusiasts as the director of “Grand Prix,” but he and his wife also owned—and cherished—a 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III for decades. That car is featured on this episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage.”
As Leno tells it, the long-armed Frankenheimer was in London having shirts tailored when he passed a Rolls-Royce/Bentley dealership (the two companies were still joined at the time). He tried a Bentley first, but didn’t fit in it properly. Finding that the Silver Cloud was a better fit, be bought it on the spot with cash, calling it a wedding present for his wife.
The Silver Cloud III was the final version of a model line that dated back to the mid-1950s, marking the end of an era for the automaker. The same year Frankenheimer’s car was built, Rolls-Royce launched its first truly modern car, the Silver Shadow. Unlike the body-on-frame Silver Cloud, the Silver Shadow had unibody construction, as well as a hydropneumatic suspension system licensed from Citroën.
John Frankenheimer’s 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III on Jay Leno’s Garage
It’s hard to beat the Silver Cloud III for pure ostentation, though. Behind the trademark Rolls-Royce grille and “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament sits a 6.2-liter V-8, which produces “adequate” power in the range of 200-240 hp, Jay says. The rear-wheel drive Rolls has a General Motors Hydramatic 4-speed automatic transmission.
The car accompanied Frankenheimer to film shoots around the world, and was supposed to drive Robert F. Kennedy away from Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968, had the presidential candidate not been assassinated there that day, Leno says. Despite its age and continual use, the Rolls is in fairly good condition. It only has 27,000 miles, and the interior is all-original, Jay notes.
Frankenheimer died in 2002, but his wife kept the Rolls for several years before donating it to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. She still visits the car occasionally, according to Jay.
Watch the full video to see learn more about the car and see and hear this classic Rolls get a rare bit of exercise.