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Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud

Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Published: 15th Nov 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Cloud III or S3
  • Worst model: Anything bodged
  • Budget buy: All SII versions
  • OK for unleaded?: Amazingly yes say experts
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): mm L 5377 x W 1897
  • Spares situation: Generally very good
  • DIY ease?: Okay and far better than Shadow
  • Club support: Very good indeed
  • Appreciating asset?: Very much so if good
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Could be your perfect posh purchase
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Last of the traditional Rolls-Royces offers gracious and majestic motoring. Old fashioned in feel but still boasts refinement that surpasses many moderns. Becoming sought after, and a simpler car than a Shadow to maintain

Silver Clouds are regarded by many as the last of the truly regal Rolls- Royce saloons. Stately and upperclass, 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 wisely.

History

1955 Silver Cloud (and 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 Cloud and S1 both replaced by the trendy new Silver Shadow, although the old timer survived as the regal Phantom limo until not so long ago.

Driving and press comments

Whether or not you’re in ‘Cloud nine’ driving this old Roller depends on how you treat this old lady. A Mulsanne it isn’t, and even the later Shadow feels like the Ferraris we feature elsewhere in this issue by way of comparison, but of course you shouldn’t drive one in such a vulgar and common manner. 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 over 60 years – and this includes the Shadow.

Comfort reigns, as it really floats 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 that pedestrian or slow. Stately and steady 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 that’s a world away from modern PAS systems. Yet, don’t buy one without, because the Rolls feels like a truck to drive and park. It’s so working class to talk about economy but don’t expect much better than 15mpg depending on state of wear, engine tune and so on. There again, as the car will probably only be used for special days does it matter?

Back in the 1950s, the press didn’t 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, thanks to the new Rolls chassis.

“Can be driven in almost sports car fashion”, according to The Motor’s ’56 test, which went into great detail to describe the rear glass with fine electric wires in it; us commoners use the term heated rear window! The report did remark that power steering would be welcome, however.

A re-test of the V8 model in 1960 had seen the price soar over the years from £5078 to £6092 but 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 used to it. Air con was a £385 extra, which the test said, “Was a must for tropical conditions”. And as for quietness, the testers crowed, “You can slip it into neutral at 100mph and let the engine idle without the passengers noticing a thing”. Autocar loved the electric windows saying it was reluctant to go back to anything else – who would have thought the lower classes would enjoy such decadence years later?

Values and marketplace

Values while not yet in the clouds, are fast heading skywards. Reckon on £25,000+ for usable ‘third gens’ (model most recommended) while average ones needing copious amounts of cash and tlc, still command 15 grand; a project at Bonhams’ Beaulieu auction sold for just £10,350.

At the other end of the scale, regal Rollers sell for £40-£60,000 – while the dropheads and bespoke builds can – like Bentley (see pic) breach £200,000.

Indeed, Rolls or Bentley? It’s matter of taste and after a period when Rollers were on a roll prices are roughly even-stevens. 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 owners club; they’re a friendly bunch 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 care.

Richard Biddulph of Vintage & Prestige (vandp.net) says the Cloud market is always steady but warns there’s a lot of poor cars out there – many former wedding cars. He likes the S1 (for its smoother engine) or the last-of-the-line S3 best.

Improvements

Few Silver Cloud owners go GTi chasing and it’s difficult to achieve. G. Whitehouse used to market a package that modified the chassis with front disc brakes but no longer offers the product – but you may unearth one – and you can’t fit later Shadow discs either. Modern radials work well, even though the chassis was designed for cross-ply but speak to an expert first on the best type as it may require the steering’s geometry adjusting to suit the optimum 235/75 size. It can cost 10K to retrofit R-R power strering; go electric? No Mulsanne, of course, but the Harvey-Bailey front and rear anti-roll bars kit works well. Middlesex-based N Sandell can overhaul the electric-activated dampers at some £300 a go.

V8 can be swapped for later 6.7-litre but the IOE ‘six’ is limited to head work; Bentley Continental head and twin SU carbs achieves over 160bhp but it’s expensive. On the other hand, better lights, improved rad, electronic ignition, alternator (or Dynalite alternative), and so on are sensible, more affordable upgrades.

A Phantom Fling

If you’re after a Cloud, but more modern and with a difference, think Phantom! This limo has been around longer than the Cloud it’s based upon. The body (all virtually made by Mulliner Park Ward) is almost 20ft, so storage might be a problem. Out of them all, it’s the Phantom V from 1959 we’d start from. All boast V8 power tied to either four-speed automatics, or a three-speed GM 400 unit in ’78, while most possess the essential power steering. Amazingly, drum brakes always fitted even on the VI which ran from 1968 to 1992, but discs may have been retro-fitted. Less than 1200 were made, the majority being the Phantom V. Prices well exceed Cloud values, being anything from £20,000 for a project to over £100,000, dependent on condition, spec and, of course, who owned it last!

What To Look For

General

 

  • Take extreme care when buying these lovely old things. Although a simpler car than the Shadow to vet, too many are in ropey state and cost a fair bit to keep let alone restore. Does the seller look affluent enough?
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  • Spare parts provide no worries as even Rolls-Royce main dealers still have them in stock but independents – such as Flying Spares and Introcar – can supply all you need and some of the best places for new or used parts as well as service items.
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  • It’s not unknown for Bentleys to have been converted to Rolls-Royce spec, although you can quickly tell whether the bonnet has been altered to accept the new grille quite easily. Check the car’s history, the V5 and look for signs of Bentley markings if you’re still unsure or consult expert/owners’ clubs.

 

Body and chassis

 

  • Although the chassis is inherently strong, check thoroughly, especially the rear where a culmination of mud traps and battery box corrosion can spread around the rear axle area. Thanks to a myriad of oil leaks and seeps, the front is generally well protected.
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  • Look at the ‘horse shoe’, that’s the area at the rear by the axle. Repair sections are available for under £450 but complete new legs cost over £1500 (part repairs section are available). The front is better protected, by decades of oil leaks–thank goodness!
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  • Other rot points are the inner front and rear wings, floor and the outer panels, especially around the headlamps. 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 significant rusting. Two tone paint may suggest quick tart up.
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  • The sills are a four piece set. It’s going to be expensive to put right! Think £2300 for wings while a Rolls grille costs a reputed £4000 (50 per cent less for Bentley one!). Even hub caps are £300 a pop. Luckily there are numerous specialist breakers to contain costs to Jaguar ownership levels.

 

Engine

 

  • Early cars used a straight-six that is very simple to work on, although the side-valve exhaust set-up makes setting tappets tricky and so they may not have been done right. It’s a Rolls, so anything less than silky smoothness and silence suggests something is amiss.
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  • Biggest V8 worries are overheating caused by the waterways becoming clogged, warped cylinder heads, low oil pressure and defective exhaust manifolds. Can be overhauled at home though: Piston rings cost £300-£375, bearing sets around £200 and decoke kit for under £300 (valves and guides £100 each).
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  • Both units feature separate bore liners and so the block can be easily re-sleeved; it’s easier on the older ‘six’ and re-manufacturer Introcar sells liners at under £150 per bore.

 

Running gear

 

  • Rolls developed a single-shot chassis lubricating system with just the press of a pedal inside the car. Penny to a pound that it doesn’t work so well now. Later V8s used more conventional grease nipples.
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  • 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, test drive a few to gauge overall standard.
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  • Steering boxes always feel a touch sloppy but excessive wear will mean a full overhaul and this can cost a whopping £1400, but kingpins work out at £360 and a PAS steering ram at under £500.
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  • Early cars used a massive drum brakes system featuring four brake shoes. Introcar remanufactures many parts including drums at more than half the price of OE ones. It can also overhaul an early ‘single master cylinder’ for around £200.

Three Of A Kind

Jaguar MK VII/MK IX
Jaguar MK VII/MK IX
The Jaguar MkVII and MkVIX 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.
Jaguar MK X
Jaguar MK X
Replacement for the earlier Mk saloons, the gigantic MkX is almost flash and vulgar in comparison, but underneath those Stateside-influenced looks lies a car that, in so many areas, is almost up to XJ6 standards. Fat but fast, prices have soared to Rolls levels of late – there’s no Daimler offshoot, strangely.
Daimler Majestic Major
Daimler Majestic Major
Bet you didn’t consider this classic candidate, and yet the dignified Daimler has almost as much prestige as the Rolls. That V8 is as majestic as the car’s name and offers surprisingly sporty performance that’s almost as good as a Mk2 3.8 Jag! Even top cars sell for less than £25,000, but they are few and far between.

Verdict

Pure class on wheels, but, unless you want a have a dark cloud hanging over you, sans any hope of a silver lining, buy the best you can from the outset.



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