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Rolls-Royce/Bentley Published: 27th May 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

Rolls-Royces and Bentleys don’t break down – they merely ‘fail to proceed’ as the factory would have it! But there’s no denying the quality or robustness which comes with the badge. There’s a fair bit that you can do at home to keep your Silver Cloud or Bentley S sweet with only normal tools and skills, as we show over the next three pages


Caring for your Cloud at home is six of one and half a dozen of the other. On the one hand, this sixty year old is a whole lot simpler in design compared to the Shadow that replaced it. Yet on the other Rolls’ experts warn it’s still a difficult car to maintain at the kerb due to its heavy-duty build. While normal tools will suffice for a lot of service work, more involved repairs demands wrenches and sockets more commonly used on lorries plus normal jacks and axle stands just aren’t man enough. Running this Roller isn’t overly dear as many specialists have a good line in used approved parts while at the other end of the price spectrum main dealers can still supply most of what you need. And join the club. The RREC not only offers usual membership benefits but runs excellent maintenance and repair seminars together with access to factory manuals.



Blocks on all feature replaceable cylinder liners which not only eases indefinite rebores but also means there’s potential to overbore the engine if you can find/manufacture liners and pistons to suit. Almost seven litres has been extracted from the V8 but it’s expensive, difficult to achieve (due to liner and piston availability) and not worth the hassle unless the engine is well worn anyway. Later V8s are best as originals weren’t so hardy.


Simplicity of the IOE ‘six’ means overhauling is DIY doable and liners are very cheap; Introcar of Surrey sells ’em for £150 a go. Old school V8 can be repaired at home, too. Corrosion can squeeze piston in the liner leading to a knocking like a worn bearing. Piston ring sets cost £300-£375, valves are on average £100 depending on engine (same for guides), £280 for a decoke kit and bearing sets, £200.



Four-speeds but ‘top’ was direct not an ‘overdrive’ so cars can prove fussy at high speed. G Whitehouse made half a dozen modified gearboxes but dropped idea due to “every unit being different” it told us. An overdrive has been devised but the prefered route is to raise the gearing by fitting taller axle ratio but this will blunt acceleration and the speedometer will need recalibrating. A manual gearbox option was offered on the Bentley Continental S.


Rolls was way ahead of its time in the 1950s by using a GM Oldsmobilederived four-speed automatic gearbox that served early Silver Shadows. If serviced properly, with regular fluid changes, it should be silent and smooth; G Whitehouse quotes around £4000 for a rebuild. Axles run for an eternity but are not unknown for their leaks, noise and slackness in the workings.



Very difficult to tune IOE ‘six’ unit; any alternations above later twin SU carb set up and higher compression ‘Continental’ cylinder head have to be bespoke and gains are minimal – best figure was 160-170bhp after fine tuning on a rolling road. V8 has more scope. Rolls-specialists, Phantom Motor Cars of Surrey, built a 700bhp Mulsanne Turbo although warns that performance tuning is both hard and very expensive.


Pre-S3 used a rugged straight-six that’s simple to work on, although side-valve exhaust set-up makes setting its tappets tricky, plus are prone to leaks. V8 worries are overheating, caused by the waterways becoming clogged with rust and silt, warped cylinder heads, low oil pressure and breaking exhaust manifolds. A common failing, they can cost around £500 per bank to fix.



A big heavy old limo, the only real modification comes from suspension experts Harvey Bailey who offers an uprated front anti-roll bar along with rear one that was never fitted as standard. Other than that, it’s a case of making sure that the dampers and springs are top notch – overhauling the electrically activated dampers rather than opting for conventional afterfit types is worthwhile and costs around £300 a go says Middlesex-based N Sandell.


Nothing quite so crude as a grease gun as Rolls developed a single-shot lubricating system. Does it still work ok? Can be overhauled. Repairs require lorry-like spring compressors and heavy duty wrenches, while the rear leaf springs can retain a lot of kinetic energy as they are removed from the chassis warns experts N Sandell. So take care and have the appropriate tools!



You can argue that there’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ Cloud as many were tailored to suit when new. Air conditioning was fitted on most but retro-fitting it properly, says RR&B, involves removing the wings to install and as a result a five figure invoice isn’t unknown. It’s seen some poor lash ups devaluing the car. Later 1964 models were fitted better, broader front seats.


It’s a Rolls so you’re never going to be let off lightly if you need new trim. A Rolls-Royce grille costs some £4000 (double the price of a Bentley one!), and hub caps £300 a pop. Luckily experts such as Flying Spares has a good stock of second-hand replacements. Ditto, interior although many Clouds featured tailored trim that’s harder and dearer to match up.



Later Clouds had power steering and while it’s logical enough to consider retrofitting, it isn’t an easy job. Also obtaining the right parts doesn’t come cheap at ten grand fitted; answer may be an electric PAS set up from the likes of EZ. Tyres can be a moot point but most Rolls’ specialists say that while not designed for them, 235/75 radials work a treat, but check out the best types from an R-R expert or classic tyre specialist. P&A Wood likes Goodrich and Hercules’ brands.


There’s a myriad of joints which wear out and so compound any inherent sloppiness in this 60 year old, particularly the steering box which is also a known leaker. A full overhaul can run to £1400 but the improvements can be dramatic. Predominantly on V8s but also on some ‘sixes’ are noisy power steerings due to the latest hoses from the factory; the association of R-R specialists is currently trying out original spec alternatives to counter this.



Most obvious mod is to fit disc brakes from late models but you can’t and even the last-of-theline 1990’s Phantoms still used drum brakes! N Sandell knows of an owner who devised a disc set up but it cost well into five figures! Our tip is to consult Mintex who has recently launched a classic line of standard and uprated pads and shoes for many British models – some may match but you need to send yours away for relining work.


Thankfully, the massive drum brakes work and last pretty well. Rough braking suggests oval drum wear. If this can’t be machined out, then new ones are needed, costing more than £400 each, plus another £180 for OE shoes! Wheel cylinders cost almost £250, so a full brake restoration can easily cost over a grand but Intro Car is remaking many parts for half the price; the early single master cylinder at £200, for example.


Apart from the areas we have outlined, there’s a quite a number of other ares worth upgrading. Electronic ignition and uprated radiators are two mods we’d consider along with a conversion to alternator or a dynamo-looking Dynalite from Final word comes from experts P&A Wood who says if in good condition a Cloud doesn’t need modifying at all! The problem is that a lot of people think theirs is when they are not… it told us!



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