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Rolls Royce Silver Cloud & Bentley S

every CLOUD has a… Published: 6th Mar 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls Royce Silver Cloud & Bentley S
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Last of the traditional Rolls-Royces offers gracious, rather than GT, motoring. Old fashioned in feel but still boasts refinement that surpasses many moderns. Becoming sought after, more so than identical Bentley S range

The Silver Cloud is regarded by many as the last of the truly regal Rolls- Royce saloons. Stately and undeniably upper-class British, the Silver Cloud harks back to a bygone era when proper cars used to be made on a separate chassis and craftsmanship took pride and place over fripperies. Today there’s increasing interest in the Cloud over the far more advanced Shadow, due to its Victorian values and virtues. There’s class by the bucket load, of course, and a good one won’t break the bank – but a bad one might, so buy with care!


1955: The Silver Cloud (and the Bentley S1) burst onto the scene, after a five year development run. It still retained a separate chassis, even though monocoque construction was catching on. The engine was a 4.8-litre development of the B60 straight six with quaint overhead inlet/side exhaust-valved (IOE) cylinder heads. Old fashioned, but still good for a healthy 175bhp. Drum brakes were still utilised yet amazingly electrically controlled dampers were fitted as standard.

1956: Power steering and air conditioning listed as worthy options.

1957: A host of body styles such as a two-door Continental, convertibles and a longer wheel-based saloon now offered.

1959: Silver Cloud II (and Bentley S2) announced; the chief change being the fitting of Rolls’ all new 6230cc V8, which became the mainstay of the car company up until the end of the Century! Initially it delivered 185bhp, so there was much more zip, although some actually still prefer the old six for its silent silkiness.

1962: Three years later the last of the line Clouds/S3s were introduced. The V8 was boosted to 200bhp care of bigger SU carbs and a higher compression ratio, although, as Rolls never really quoted power outputs thinking that was far too vulgar, nobody is certain of the engine’s real output. Externally, modern twin headlamps adorned the front end.

1965: The Cloud was replaced by the trendy new Silver Shadow, although the old timer survived as the Phantom limo until fairly recently.


Whether or not you’re in ‘Cloud nine’ driving this old Roller depends on how you pilot this old lady. A GTi it isn’t, and even the later Shadow feels like a Ferrari in comparison, but of course you shouldn’t drive one in such a vulgar way. Hustle one along and it disappoints – understandably so – but take a relaxed attitude and let it waft along and you may well enjoy it. As a classic cruiser, there’s little to touch Crewe’s finest after almost 60 years, and this includes the Shadow. Comfort reigns supreme, as it really flWeekendoats like a Cloud, and there’s plenty of space in the back, especially in the longer wheel-based versions. Opt for a bench seat car and there’s more than ample room for six to savour the splendour.

Not that the Cloud is pedestrian or slow. Stately is more like it, with typical road test times clocking these heavyweights to 60mph in around 13 seconds, while a late V8 can almost touch 120mph. That’s too brave for us, given the finger-light, life-less power steering which is a world away from modern PAS systems in terms of feel.

On the other hand, don’t buy one without this, because the Rolls feels like a truck to drive and park. You can’t talk economy with these cars – that’s so working class! – but don’t expect much better than 15mpg depending on state of wear, engine tune and so on. There again, as the Silver Cloud will only be used for special treats (or perhaps earn a few bob as a Wedding car?) does it matter?

Back in the ‘50s, the press didn’t even think it worth bringing up the subject, except to say you may need to tank-up every two-three hours on a run! Instead, the testers enjoyed what was the best car in the world that, thanks to the new chassis.

“Can be driven in almost sports car fashion”, according to The Motor’s 1956 test, which went into great detail to describe the rear glass with fine electric wires in it; us commoners call it a heated rear window! The report did remark that power steering would be a welcome extra.

A re-test of the V8 model in 1960 had seen the price soar over the years from £5078 to £6092 but The Motor reckoned the makers, “Were 100 per cent right” in hiking the prices, given the Cloud II’s new performance levels, which made it as quick as a Triumph TR3 off the mark. Power steering was welcomed although the magazine said it was easy for the driver to over-correct until he was used to it. Air conditioning was a £385 extra, which the test said, “Was a must for tropical conditions”. As for quietness, the testers said, “You can slip it into neutral at 100mph and let the engine idle without the passengers noticing a thing”. Just don’t try that on the M25!


Values are not yet into the clouds, but it won’t be long! Reckon on £25,000 and above for a truly nice example ‘third gen’ (that’s the model most specialists recommend) while a fair example, albeit one that will need copious amounts of cash lavished on it, can easily command £15,000. Yes, you may well unearth a ten grand example, but beware warn the experts. At the other end of the scale, regal Rollers cars sell for £40-50,000 these days and left-hand drive models are becoming increasingly more valuable – perhaps to keep at the second home abroad – while the ultra-rare dropheads can touch almost £200,000.

Rolls or Bentley? Again it’s matter of taste. Unlike today’s ranges, the former remain the most favoured and so worth more. Phantoms can sell for well over £150,000, especially if the car boasts famous previous owners – as many do (see box out). In terms of classic cars, an old Rolls costs very little more than a similar Jaguar to keep, but do join an owner’s club; they’re a friendly bunch welcoming Rolls Royce owners from all walks of life and are invaluable for help and advice. Their technical support is excellent and you’ll even find seminars and courses for owners keen on home maintenance.


We don’t know whether a Mulsanne Turbo will fit, nor whether Silver Cloud owners want more speed. Cloud experts G Whitehouse used to market a package that modified the chassis with front disc brakes but no longer offers the product – but you may find one on eBay. However the specialist still sells modifications to the ratios for the automatic transmissions that are well worth going for.

Modern radials work well on the car, even though it was designed for cross-ply tyres but speak to an expert first on the best type for the chassis, which may require the steering geometry adjusting to suit.

Better headlights, electronic ignition, alternator, and so on are sensible upgrades.

Three Of A Kind

The Jaguar MkVII and MkVIIM offer unbridled luxury at an affordable price – if you can find one. A real rarity, these large gracious saloons feel like E-types compared to the Rolls and quite sporty – sometimes spotty too, as rust is rife on most cars, which have previously been regarded as banger Jags – sadly.
Replacement for the earlier Mk saloons, the gigantic MK X is almost flWeekendash and vulgar in comparison, but underneath those Stateside-inflWeekenduenced looks lies a car that in many areas is almost up to XJ6 standards. Fat but fast, they are great value still – there’s no Daimler offshoot, strangely.
Bet you didn’t consider this classic candidate, but the dignified Daimler has almost as much prestige as the Rolls. That V8 is as majestic as the car’s name and offers surprising performance that’s almost as good as a Mk2 3.8 Jag! Even top cars sell for around £10,000, but they are few and far between.


These old school Bentleys and Rollers are pure class on wheels, but, unless you want a have a dark cloud hanging over you, it’s advisable to buy the best you can from the outset. A good one will appreciate steadily in years to come… call it the silver lining!

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