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Rolls-Royce Seraph

Rolls-Royce Seraph Published: 16th Jul 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Seraph
Rolls-Royce Seraph
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NOUGHTY BUT NICE

IN BRIEF

All new modern replacement for old Silver Spirit and Mulsanne ranges but what started off as a virtually identical design for the brands quickly changed due to the two companies sadly parting. While the Silver Seraph was produced for less than four years and came with a BMW-built V12, the Bentley was offered with either a BMW-sourced 4.4-litre V8 (in the Arnage Green Label) or the company’s classic 6.75-litre V8 (in the Arnage Red Label). So while on the face of it these cars are all the same, there are actually three quite distinct variations on the theme and they’re all very different to drive.

TIMELINES

1998 The Arnage débuts in June, with a twin-turbo BMW 4.4-litre V8. Meanwhile, the Silver Seraph was also introduced with BMW’s 5.4-litre V12 engine and identical to the Arnage apart from the grille and badges. 1999 Arnage Red Label appears, with classic 400bhp 6.75-litre pushrod R-R V8. From this point on, the BMW-engined Arnage is known as the Green Label. 2000 The BMW-engined model is dropped. 2001 There’s now a long-wheelbase Seraph while, Bentley cashes in on its Le Mans heritage with a special edition. 2002 A long-wheelbase version of the Red Label is offered, Arnage T and Arnage R launched, both an updated Red Label. 2006 The V8 rises to 6761cc and power jumps by 50bhp to 500bhp.

DRIVING

In classic circles it’s the Arnage that’s going to be remembered most but while it’s the Red Label that gets all the plaudits thanks to that hugely torquey old Rolls unit V8, don’t be too quick to dismiss the cars BMW powered. They may not have quite the allure but there are still few cars that can provide such a sense of occasion. “The Arnage T is noisy and aggressive but very powerful with a sharp throttle response, while the Arnage R is more refined. The key is to try before you buy, to make sure you like the driving characteristics,” advises Paul Brightman of Surrey-based Royce Service & Engineering (http://www.royceservice.co.uk).

BEST MODELS

The Arnage and Silver Seraph can almost be treated as two distinct cars because the buyer who wants one of them probably won’t want the other. Bentley made a raft of changes in 2002 to improve the chassis, the result being a big improvement in roadholding. Even the various iterations of the Red Label are different to drive thanks to an array of suspension settings, power outputs, engine set-ups and wheelbases and even weight distribution.

VALUES

With many owners tending to hang onto these the result has been a steady increase in values, although you can still buy from around £25,000 at a specialist. If you’re lucky enough to home in on a late, low miler (a Last of Line) you could pay up to £60,000 for it, although few cars sell for much more than £40,000.

The daddy of them all though is the Red Label, which is the only edition that Bentley purists are interested in. Even better, it’ll be one of the sought-after Le Mans or Final Series cars as they are the variants that are also likely to be worth the most in the future.

BUYING ADVICE

Check who has serviced the car previously; independent specialists are fine – but it needs to be somebody with a decent reputation. Don’t buy a car that doesn’t come with a service history. A set of front brake pads costs £300, for example. Be wary of wacky colour schemes specified by first owners with more money than taste.

Buyers like subdued shades, with dark exterior colours and light interiors the preferred option. 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. It shouldn’t have spread though.

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.

 



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