Practical classics
Practical classics
Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Rolls-Royce Red Label

Rolls-Royce Red Label Published: 6th May 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Red Label
Rolls-Royce Red Label
Rolls-Royce Red Label
Rolls-Royce Red Label
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

For the price of a Stag, MGB (and even a Ford Escort) you can live in style

Why are rolls’ silver seraph and arnage such great bargains – what’s the catch?

There’s no real catch as such, it’s just that this New Millennium saloon is going the way of past Bentleys and Rollers where they haven’t become classics as such. Yet.

They all look great value for money

That’s hardly surprising as the Silver Seraph and its Bentley alternative, the Red and Green Label, can be bought for less than £25,000 – you can pay more for an MGB!

Are they much the same apart from the badges?

No, not in this case as with previous models. The Rolls and Bentley cars might look the same but they were launched just when the Crewe company was sold off to be carved up by BMW and Volkswagen at the tail end of the last century. Their chief differences lurk under the skin.

The Silver Seraph was produced for less than four years and came only with a BMW-built V12, whereas the Bentley was offered with either a BMW-sourced 4.4-litre V8 (in the Arnage Green Label) or a revitalised old school R-R 6.75-litre V8 (in the Arnage Red Label) once the BMW powerplant had to be quietly dropped in 2000 for political reasons.

So what’s best?

While on the face of it these once British brands appear to be the same, there are actually quite distinct variations on the theme and all very different to drive, the Rolls perhaps the sweetest performer care of that BMW V12 although the Red Label is the fastest and sportiest pick.

Are they good to drive?

First things first. The Arnage/Seraph design is a world away from the old Silver Spirit/ Mulsanne one and some will say not before time as the Shadow (which formed the platform) was past it even back in 1980 and less expensive rivals from Jaguar and Mercedes shamed it to be fair in terms of handling and ride.

The Bentley brand remains the sportier drive of the duo as we have come to expect. In fact, the Arnage and Seraph differs enough to almost be treated as rivals because the buyer who wants one type probably won’t want the other reckon the specialists. Bentley made a raft of changes in 2002 to further improve the chassis and distance itself from the Rolls, resulting in a significant improvement for the driver who prefers a sports saloon more than a cruiser although this doesn’t mean to imply that the Seraph isn’t as good to drive because it is, albeit in different kind of way and it’s certainly not as straight-laced as the Silver Spirit used to be.

What’s more, according to Silver Lady Services, Seraphs can command the better residuals and adds this terrific trio are mainly bought by motorists new to the brands. Put it this way, there’s no wooden spoon…

Try them both out?

That’s what many Rolls-Royce specialists advise as both have their merits although the bulk tend to recommend the Bentleys; and we feel one main reason for this is because of a loyalty to that stalwart of the old V8 that dates back to 1959 meaning it still retains a link with the old guard – in short, it’s the traditionalists’ choice.

Tell me more about those bentleys…

As future classic buys it’s the Arnage range that’s going to be wanted the most but while it’s the Red Label that gets all the plaudits, thanks to that torquey (619lb/ft!) veteran Rolls-Royce V8 powerhouse, don’t be overly dismissive of the BMW powered versions as many people are. They may not have quite the same allure and character but there are still few cars that can provide such a sense of occasion with that creamy BMW V12 up front.

The Arnage T is the most noisy and aggressive of the bunch but extremely powerful with it backed by a sharp throttle response. The Arnage R is the more refined but it’s no soft slouch either!

Also, thanks to the various iterations of the Red Label models, all are quite different to drive due to an array of suspension settings, power outputs, engine set-ups, wheelbases and even weight distribution, so again decide what you want, study the market and test drive the cars as well as speaking to a known Rolls specialist for advice or the clubs such as the RREC.

Red rules, okay?

True – the Red Label is the only edition that the purists are likely to be interested in and so more sought after as a result, and even better, if it’s one of the revered Le Mans or Final Series cars as they are rare variants that are also likely to be worth the most in the future.

Is a ‘label’ a better car than the continental GT?

Debatable… All three don’t possess the power or stature, nor all-wheel drive grip, but they are more comfortable and certainly a roomier alternative. It’s all down to taste but unlike the WAG coupé and cabrio they don’t have that footballers’ image to contend with.

Have you any buying advice?

Check who has serviced the car previously and don’t buy a car that doesn’t come with a service history – independent specialists are fine. Be wary of wacky colour schemes specified by first owners with more money than taste. Buyers tend to like subdued shades, with dark exterior colours and light interiors the preferred option meaning the wrong colour scheme can knock thousands off the value.

Interiors don’t necessarily age well; look for sagging leather, delaminating wood and tatty carpets. Corrosion shouldn’t be an issue, although some earlier cars can suffer from rust in the wheelarches and sills.

The suspension and brakes have to work pretty hard; check they’re not tired, as they often are. Cars that are used sparingly might be suffering from corroded brake discs; increasingly, these modern prestige cars are used only on an occasional basis. Most importantly drive a few example to set a datum as they may be so far removed from what you are generally used to that even a tired old example may feel simply wonderful…

This is where a good specialist proves its worth as independents won’t touch anything other than good ones, with the result that they find their way into the general motor trade, mixing it on the high street forecourts with, Scenics, Mondeos 3 Series BMWs and so on. They may have price on their side but we reckon some big bills are just around the corner.

Yes, it’s time to talk money!

Massive depreciation has seen prices plummet to twenty grand or less and you should be able to net a really nice one for £25,000 with an equally good warranty making them cheaper than a decent WAG GT or earlier Continental. In fact, you can pay more for the best Mulsanne these days. For example, Ghost Motors is currently advertising an early two owner Red Label at £22,000 – full service history naturally – while Hanwells of London has a cluster from £19,999 going all the way to £56,000 for a 2002 Seraph, giving some credence that the Rollers are perhaps holding their values better. We know that it’s hard to say “twenty grand” and a “bargain” in the same breath but when you consider that, new the Rolls carried a price tag of £155,000, then yes they are fantastic bargains!

Yeah… but are they proper classics though?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? In terms of an appreciating asset, then no, not yet, because there’s some deprecation still to go for the majority on the market (that said, top ones are holding their own now). But as modern classic that’s worth buying now and playing the long game then now is a good time to make your move – in style.



User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Subscribe