The British Coachbuilding Mulliner family traces back to 1760, when the company was building coaches for the Royal Mail in Northampton.
There were at one time four separate companies trading with the name Mulliner, all seem to have descended from the original family:
- Arthur Mulliner based in Northampton.
- Mulliner in Liverpool who also opened a showroom in Brook Street, Mayfair, London with Arthur Mulliner trading as Mulliner (London) Ltd.
- H.J. Mulliner who bought the Mayfair showroom.
- Mulliners of Birmingham.
Henry Jervis Mulliner founded H.J. Mulliner & Co. in 1900 in the Mayfair area of London where the factory was set up. This was probably the premises previously occupied by Mulliners (London) Ltd. The location was convenient as his clients, the nobility could afford his services. One of the early clients was C.S. Rolls who had a body built on a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost for his own use.
In 1906 the works moved out of Mayfair to Chiswick and shortly afterwards H.J. Mulliner sold his interest in the company to John Croall and retired. The family connection was maintained as Croall employed H. J. Mulliner's brother in law Frank Piesse to run the company.
Although H.J. Mulliner designed coachwork for C. S. Rolls' personal two-seater Silver Ghost roadster, it was not until 1928 that the firm began to regularly display its hand-crafted bodies on a Rolls-Royce chassis. From that year on, H.J. Mulliner always exhibited at least one Rolls-Royce chassis graced with their custom coachwork.
Following World War II, Mulliner was one of the few coachbuilders to resume building traditional, bespoke coachwork. By this time, the firm's reputation was such that it focused primarily on being a supplier to Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis, crafting the finest, high quality saloons, sedancas, limousines and dropheads for the world's wealthy and elite. By the 1950s, however, Mulliner moved away from the traditional wood-frame coachbuilding techniques of its past, turning instead to the more modern methods of its competitors using a "stressed skin" all-steel structure.
Rolls-Royce acquired Mulliner in 1959 and merged it with Park Ward which they had owned since 1939 forming Mulliner-Park Ward in 1961. This new entity can hardly be called a coachbuilder, because it was no longer an independant company and they were solely focussing on Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
Today, Mulliner is no more than the personal commissioning department for Bentley, turning the Mulliner name into nothing more than some sort of luxury badge for standard works cars with a personalized interior.
Forum: Mulliner & Co. (H.J.)