The Thomas Crown Affair
1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Two-Door Sedan
Coachwork by H J Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd.
Chassis no. CRX2672
An underrated masterpiece, The Thomas Crown Affair provided Steve McQueen with one of his most memorable movie roles as the eponymous business tycoon turned bank robber. Cool and sophisticated, Thomas Crown is quickly established in the plot as a man of discernment: a polo-playing Ferrari owner with his own glider and a taste for hand-made suits and hand-rolled cigars, so what else would he drive on formal occasions but a Rolls-Royce? Thomas Crowns however, was no ordinary Rolls-Royce, but one of the even more exclusive, limited edition, two-door sedans specially built to individual customer order by the companys in-house coachbuilder, H J Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd. That offered here, the actual car used for the movie, features in a number of key scenes, including the money drops at the films beginning and ending, and when Thomas Crown drives in the rain accompanied by insurance investigator, Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway). As such it represents a rare opportunity to acquire a genuine ex-McQueen movie car, driven by the great man himself.
By the time the fictional Thomas Crown ordered his, the British motor industrys almost wholesale switch to unitary construction and, in particular, Rolls-Royces adoption of the method for building its new Silver Shadow, meant that the market for traditional coachbuilt automobiles had been severely curtailed. Of the many hundreds of firms trading pre-war, just two - James Young and the now combined firm of H J Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd - were left to meet the demand for a coachbuilt Rolls-Royce or Bentley, though these might be more accurately termed conversions rather than 100 percent bespoke creations.
Recalling its glamorous Grands Routiers of pre-war days such as the Phantom II Continental, Rolls-Royces final coachbuilt models - entrusted to the companys in-house coachbuilder H J Mulliner, Park Ward - were limited to just two, a two-door coupé or similar convertible, the former arriving in March 1966 and the latter in September the following year. The cars were hand built in the best traditions of British coachbuilding using only materials of the finest quality, including Wilton carpeting, Connolly hide and burr walnut veneers, a necessarily lengthy process that took all of 20 weeks for the saloon and slightly longer for the more complex convertible. This painstaking attention to detail resulted in a price some 50% higher than the standard Silver Shadows. Nevertheless, demand for these more glamorous alternatives to the much more numerous Silver Shadow was strong right from the start, a state of affairs that resulted in them being given their own model name - Corniche- in March 1971.
This cars accompanying paperwork shows that it was ordered new in 1967 from Rolls-Royce by Hollywood movie producer Jerry Bresler (1908-1977) whose extensive body of work included The Vikings, Major Dundee and Casino Royale. Factory build cards record that Mr Bresler ordered this left-hand drive Rolls-Royce with numerous enhancements including lowered steering column, Firestone white-wall tires, electric aerial, electric windows, Sundym glass, air conditioning, drivers door mirror, hazard warning device, between-seats companion box and inertia-reel safety belts to the front seats. The cars next recorded owner is Ms Sharon R Simon(s), variously a resident of New Orleans, Dallas and Beverly Hills who, documents indicate, owned it as early as 1980 and into the 1990s. The vendor acquired the car circa 2000. Finished in blue with beige leather interior, CRX2672 is offered with owners manual and, in addition to the aforementioned Rolls-Royce factory documentation, comes with service records dating back to 1997, including those relating to work carried out by Rolls-Royce/Bentley specialists Moyer Motorcars of Front Royal, VA and a repaint undertaken by Pro Finish Auto Body in December 2000.