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Rolls-Royce and Bentley


Car of the Month - February  2004
Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, #SGE120, 1958,
Standard Saloon

2,360 is the overall production figure of Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I built between 1955 and 1958; of these 122 where of the of the long wheelbase variant. A mere 157 were delivered as chassis cum engine to one of the few coachbuilding companies that survived into 50ies. The figures do allow but one conclusion: the Silver Cloud in the form offered ex-factory met exactly what prospective purchasers did demand. As a result the vast majority were built like this one as a “Standard Steel Sports Saloon”.

The power source was a 6-cylinder in-line-engine of 4.9 litres capacity. No risk in this, because the engine wasn’t new but one that had been employed under the bonnet of the last series of the Bentley R Continental. In its basic layout it had powered many thousands of predecessors, from 1946 onward in 4 ¼ litres form and then from 1951 onward with a capacity increased to 4 ½ litres. Similarly the automatic gearbox was a well proven unit that had been available since 1952 as an option, the Silver Cloud I was the first model with automatic transmission being standard. All in all chassis and powertrain were a combination of most carefully refined components that were known to be robust and reliable.

Neither interior nor outward appearance did break with tradition. Unostentatious luxury and flawless elegance exactly in the style of the company. Other manufacturers in the 50ies already did prefer monocoque shells. Rolls-Royce however had decided upon a welded box section chassis frame and separate body. Given appropriate maintenance such basis for a long period resists corrosion. If perhaps after decades a restoration might be necessary some of the ugly surprises are avoided that are inherent to monocoque bodies.

Any motor car never having been prone to suffer from neglect and poor service, of course, is by far more enjoyable. From this category is the right-hand drive car shown here. The first owner in England was keen to keep the Silver Cloud in perfect condition and that didn’t alter when she changed hands. Some 20 years ago the car was exported to Germany and became part of a collection after having been subject to some alterations and additions necessary to comply with the regulations of that country.

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