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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud

Cloud Nine Published: 24th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls Royce Silver Cloud

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Cloud III/S3
  • Worst model: Anything suspect
  • Budget buy: Original models
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes say experts
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L5377 x W1897
  • Spares situation: Good
  • DIY ease?: Surprisingly okay
  • Club support: Very good
  • Appreciating asset?: Gathering pace
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Good buy
Interior yet to be bettered with all top drawer luxury to spare. Some also boasted front bench seat to take six Interior yet to be bettered with all top drawer luxury to spare. Some also boasted front bench seat to take six
For some strange reason, Bentley models are not as popular as Rollers and some cars have been re-grilled For some strange reason, Bentley models are not as popular as Rollers and some cars have been re-grilled
Stately home cabin is pure class with wood and leather to spare. Comfy but a major restoration will prove dear Stately home cabin is pure class with wood and leather to spare. Comfy but a major restoration will prove dear
Old straight six is smoother than V8 and has ample pep so long as tricky tappet arrangement is set with care Old straight six is smoother than V8 and has ample pep so long as tricky tappet arrangement is set with care
Styling is now back in fashion - two toning works best. Rust is a major worry but repair panels are available Styling is now back in fashion - two toning works best. Rust is a major worry but repair panels are available
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Few cars provide as much old school class and status as the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and Bentley S series. Buy a good one and you’ll enjoy the ultimate in motoring style

Pros & Cons

Style, old school craftsmanship, old world ambience, easy maintenance
Hugely expensive to restore, rust woes, old time, driving feel, size

Some regard the Silver Cloud as the last of the genuine Rolls-Royces. Built how proper cars used to be made, on a separate chassis, it was the curtain call for old-school Rollers and Bentleys, where mere costs took a sumptuous back seat to priceless craftsmanship. Today, after far too long hidden in the shadows of the Silver Shadow, the more genteel, and some would argue far more cultured, Silver Cloud range is emerging as the classier, wiser buy of the prestige pair.


The Silver Cloud (and the Bentley S1) burst on the scenes in 1955, after a fi ve year development run. Looking more modern than the old Silver Dawns and Wraiths, it still retained a separate chassis, just when the monocoque age was starting to boom. The engine was a 4.8-litre development of the B60 straight six, with old style overhead inlet/ side exhaust-valved cylinder heads. However, it still mustered a healthy 175bhp and strong performance for its time, plus easy 100mph cruising. New fangled electrically controlled dampers were standard but, for the fi rst year, power steering wasn’t even an option. Stopping this heavyweight were huge drum brakes all round. Price was £4796, which won’t even buy you a good second-hand Fiesta these days! However, that was big money back in the mid 50s and a Silver Cloud shouted, rather than whispered, that you ‘had made it’ so to speak. A year after launch, power steering and air conditioning became worthy options while, for ’57, a host of body styles such as a two-door Continental, convertibles and a longer wheel-base saloon were offered.

In 1959, the Silver Cloud II (and Bentley S2) were announced; the chief change being the fi tting of 6230cc Rolls Royce V8, which became the mainstay up until the end of the Century. Kicking out up to 185bhp, it gave the car some much welcome zip, although some actually prefer the old six which was silky smooth and silent. Three years later the last of the Clouds/ S3s were introduced. The V8 gained bigger SU carbs and a higher compression ratio. As a result 200-210bhp is now the norm, although Rolls rarely quoted power outputs, reckoning that was far too vulgar and working class! More modern twin headlamps adorned the front end – and that’s the way the car stayed up to late ’65, when the range was replaced by the trendy new Silver Shadow, although the car’s DNA and style survived in the Phantom limo until the 1990s!


You can’t really compare the Cloud to the later Shadow because, in the end, it’s down to personal taste. The monocoque-constructed Shadow natu rally feels far more modern on winding roads, although the ride isn’t appreciably superior. Yet, what could possibly be more unseemly than an old Rolls or Bentley being driven as if it was a GTi? No, at almost 18ft long and the weight of a lorry, the real pleasure piloting these old Crewe cruisers comes when you relax and take it easy at the wheel, watching a frantic world whizz by. No wonder it was hailed as the best car in the world. Even today the car’s silence and smoothness remain quite remarkable, but the acceleration perhaps less so. Not that performance is that sedate. Stately is a the description we’d sooner use; typical road tests back then clocked these heavyweights to 60mph in around 13 seconds, while a late V8 model can almost touch 120mph. In all honesty, that’s not something that we’d like to try, considering that the chassis is setup for comfort not speed, plus the power steering is fi nger-light. But, on the other hand, don’t buy one without power steering as it becomes a truck to drive otherwise and spoils the drive. And, let’s not forget that, with fuel economy barely into double fi gures (12-14mpg was the norm when new), a more genteel pace is kinder on the pocket as well as the nerves! Talking of nerves, the Cloud relied on drum brakes only and since it weighed up to 2125kg, that’s a lot of car to stop quickly, although a well serviced set up copes seem to cope okay. As a classic cruiser of more than half acentury standing, there’s little to touch Crewe’s fi nest. Comfort is supreme and there’s plenty of space in the back, especially in the longer wheel-base versions. Opt for a bench seat car and there’s ample room for six to savour the experience, too. Rolls or Bentley? It’s matter of taste. Unlike today’s ranges, the former are the most popular and worth more. As a result, it’s not unknown for Bentleys to be ‘Roller-ised’, but you can tell whether the bonnet has been altered to accept the squarer-cut Rolls grille. Check the car’s history, V5 and look for signs of Bentley markings.


Values are starting to rise; not yet into the clouds, but getting there! The days of a cheap Silver Cloud or Bentley are becoming a thing of the past. Magazine price guides seem to differ from what, some experts say. Expect to pay £25,000 and above for a truly nice example SC III (the car most specialists recommend) while a fair example, albeit one that will need much money spent on it, will easily command £15,000. Sub ten-grand examples are around, but are usually liabilities and real money pits, say the experts. Top saloons can sell for £40-50,000 these days and left-hand drive models are just as valuable. Bentley models are much rarer, as Rollers outnumbered them almost two-to-one, although they are not any dearer, despite their exclusivity. The exception to this is the Continental, of course,


We’re not suggesting turning one of these cars into a Mulsanne Turbo, but there are several areasthat can usefully be improved upon. Start with the chassis, ensuring that the dampers, springs, steering are all up to spec. The car ran on crossplies and even the most ardent supporter for originality is on to a loser if they don’t consider radials, as they are said to make a big difference according to old Rolls experts. Midlands-based Rolls experts G Whitehouse is arguably the best specialist to speak to when uprating the Cloud/S range, and it just depends how much you want to spend. For example, for the thick end of 20 grand (yes, that’s right) the company can transform this old girl with an uprated chassis kit (anti-roll bars), front disc brakes and even a modifi ed auto’ box using better, higherdriven ratios. The brake and suspension parts can be had for under £4000 and certainly worth having if the originals are clapped out anyway, especially as the parts prices are pretty much similar.

Just a thought, but as the Pantom limo survived into the 1990s and was essentially based upon the Cloud, it’s not unreasonable to assume that certain, updated, hardware can’t be substituted either?

What To Look For

  • According to leading experts, you need to take great care when buying these lovely old things. Although a simpler car than the Shadow, and fi tted with a massive chassis, at least half of the surviving cars are in a pretty ropey state, due to the cost of restoration or part-restoration.
  • Rust is the biggest worry, of course. Although the especially the rear where a culmination of mud traps and battery box corrosion can spread around the rear axle area (called the horse shoe). Repair sections are available, costing up to £435 although complete new legs run to triple this. Thanks to a myriad of oil leaks and seeps, the front is generally well protected, but check all the same.
  • Superior metalwork comes with the badge and, to be fair, the bodywork stands up better than most. Biggest rot points are the inner front and rear wings, causing bad door alignment, fl oorand the outer panels, especially around theheadlamp areas. Sills are a four-piece item.
  • Wings are hugely expensive, at £1000 on average to repair, although section panels are available for about a quarter of this. Naturally, look for cheap bodges with fi ller.
  • To save a bit of weight, panels like the bonnet, boot and doors are made from aluminium and, apart from requiring specialist repair, the reaction between the two metals (usually around the hinges and facing surfaces) causes signifi cant rusting.
  • The good news is that, apart from some chromework, parts availability is generally excellent as the car survived up until 1992 in luxury limo Phantom guise, although panels are hardly cheap. A reconditioned loud-and-proud grille costs some £4000, for instance (although Bentley ones are said to be half this!), while hubcaps are £300 a go and bumpers fi ve times this… Thankfully, there are numerous specialist breakers around to help contain costs.
  • Mechanically these cars are top notch, if they have been looked after. Early cars used a rugged straight-six that is very simple to work on, although the side-valve exhaust set-up makes setting those tappets tricky and so they may not have been done properly. It causes the engine to run rough and gives poor performance.
  • The six can drink and leak the stuff, but oil pressure should be healthy. Check the radiatorfor rusty residue and oil contamination. The cylinder head is alloy so demands constant protection from quality anti-freeze. It’s a Rolls, so anything less than silky smoothness and silence suggests something is amiss and rebuilds can run to five figures. On the other hand it’s a simple if heavy unit to DIY overhaul.
  • The V8 has been the stalwart of Crewe’s cars for more than half a century and holds few fears. Biggest worries are overheating, caused by the waterways becoming clogged with rust and silt, warped cylinder heads, low oil pressure and defective exhaust manifolds causing a leak. A common failing, they can cost £500 per bank to fi x. It’s not as rugged as the old ‘six’ – pre- 62 units were more frail – and, like the Rover V8, the Roller unit can stick its hydraulic tappets if they become slugged up.
  • Heaters were never that good, even when new, relying upon fl aps in the front wings for decent throughput. If the system is completely shot, then expect a bill of more than £1000. Usual air conditioning maladies due to lack of use etc, hold true here.
  • Rolls was way ahead of its time in the 1950s in using a Caddy-derived four-speed automatic gearbox. If serviced properly, with regular fl uid changes, the ‘box should be silent and smooth and not skip ratios. If not, then it is wearing out and a fi x costs a couple of grand. Check rear axle for noise, slack and oil leaks but these usually run for an eternity.
  • Nothing quite so crude as a grease gun is needed for these cars! Rolls developed a single-shot chassis lubricating system where the driver, or probably the chauffeur, oils the works with just the press of a pedal inside the car. Sounds great, but penny to a pound that it doesn’t work so well anymore. Later V8s used more conventional grease nipples, by the way!
  • The Silver Cloud is a big heavy car, so check the steering joints and box for undue slop and wear, plus leaking power steering units. Naturally dampers and springs can wear. The Silver Cloud set new standards for ride in the 1950s, so it should still be serene. Test drive a few cars to gauge the overall standard. Reconditioned dampers from leading R-R spares specialist Flying Spares cost £195 per corner.
  • Early cars used massive drum brakes, featuringn four brake shoes, and, if serviced right work fairly well. Rough braking suggests oval drum wear. If this can’t be machined out, then new ones are needed, costing over £400 each, plus another £180 for OE shoes! Wheel cylinders cost almost £250, so as you can see a full brake restoration can easily cost over a grand.
  • Spare parts provide no worries as even Rolls Royce main dealers have them in stock, although most specialists can supply all you need at reasonable enough prices. There are dedicated Rolls breakers too.
  • Don’t underestimate the cost of reconditioning a shabby interior. There’s Sherwood Forest in every car, while a whole herd was killed for their hides. Bank on as much as ten grand if a specialist brings it up to concours standard.
  • See that all the gadgets work properly; power window motors are known to pack up for example. There are special kits to convert the car to central locking.
  • Bentley or a Roller? The latter are the most popular and worth a fair bit more and it’s not unknown for Bentleys to have been Roller-ised, although you can tell whether the bonnet has been altered to accept the squarer-cut Rolls grille. Check also the car’s history, V5 and look for signs of Bentley markings.


Three Of A Kind

Jaguar MK VII-IX
Jaguar MK VII-IX
Regarded as the poor man’s Roller when they were new, and still grossly under-valued in term of prices and prestige, this gigantic Jag has much to offer. The ride at least matches the Rolls and the handling is superior, while performance from the XK engine is without doubt better. Equally as classy and refi ned, MKIX with 220bhp 3.8 engine and all disc brakes is the best all rounder. Compared to more fashionable Jaguars, these old cats remain amazing value
Daimler Majestic Major
Daimler Majestic Major
Last of the old big Daimlers that looked old fashioned when new back in 1959, and remained in production until ’68. As usual with Daimlers, you had to look past the frumpy body to see the exciting parts, such as a brilliant4.5-litre V8 which gave the car Jag MK2 3.8 pace! Handling is much better than its rivals, too. The puffed out DR450 is really the limo version. Lack of popularity ensures that prices remain very cheap but there’s not many good ones around.
Silver Shadow/T Series
Silver Shadow/T Series
If the old Crewe cars are too old and too 1950s, then look at the Shadow. Like the car that it replaced, the Shadow/T Series represents excellent value for money so long as you buy a good one from the outset. Pre 69 cars feel more antique and the chassis was only significantly improved in ’72 and afterwards for the Shadow II/ T2 of 1977, which is regarded the best of the lot. It’s tauter to drive and the ride was regarded magnifi cent in its day.


If you want pure old fashioned engineering and craftsmanship at its very best – and consider a Silver Shadow far too fl ashy and common for your taste – then take a step further back in time and sample the delights of a Silver Cloud or Bentley S. Pure class on wheels, but you must buy a good one rather than a cheap one. If not, you may discover that every silver lining does indeed have a dark cloud hiding in it.

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