The rationalization policy initiated in the late 1930s at Rolls-Royce continued post-World War II. During this period, the company opted to procure more components externally rather than manufacturing them in-house. For the first time, they introduced factory bodywork, which catered better to owner-drivers rather than chauffeurs. This ‘standard steel’ body, produced by the Pressed Steel Fisher Company in Cowley, was initially exclusive to the MkVI Bentley, with its Rolls-Royce counterpart, the Silver Dawn, not making its debut until 1949. Despite this shift, Rolls-Royce retained a separate chassis, offering the same fundamental design in three distinct wheelbase lengths. Noteworthy advancements included independent front suspension and hydraulic front brakes.
The lineup showcased a novel 4,257cc six-cylinder engine (expanded to 4,566cc in 1951), featuring inlet-over-exhaust valve gear, a development that had been in progress since the mid-1930s. This engine marked the first use of belt drive for the water pump and dynamo by the company. Furthermore, it incorporated a Zenith Stromberg carburetor in the Rolls-Royce configuration, chosen over the MkVI’s twin SUs for its smoother performance and cold start capability, a feature not available on the SU-equipped Bentley until 1952.
A significant enhancement to the standard bodywork arrived in mid-1952, introducing a larger trunk along with corresponding adjustments to the rear wings and suspension. This design made its debut on the ‘E’ series Silver Dawn and persisted until the final ‘J’ series. The Silver Dawn, the first Rolls-Royce to offer factory bodywork, holds a prominent position in the marque’s history and is gaining recognition as a preferred choice among enthusiasts.