Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I Sedan RH

Car producer : 

Rolls Royce


Silver Cloud I Sedan RH





Construction was body-on-frame, which permitted special bodied versions, though the overwhelming majority were built with the standard Pressed Steel Company manufactured steel body shell. A light-weight aluminium-based alloy was used for doors, bonnet/hood and boot/trunk lid. The chassis was a simple steel box section, welded together and very rigid. The car was 5.38 m (212 in) long, 1.90 m (75 in) wide, and massed 1.95 tonnes.

The chassis was of welded box-frame sections instead of the open channel chassis of the R Type and Silver Dawn. The engine capacity was increased from 4566 to 4887cc, which was the same capacity as introduced in the later R Type Continental in 1954. Full-length cylinder liners were fitted to overcome the problems with the earlier short liners in the Mk VI and R Type.

Since disc brakes were still in the development stage, the Girling drum brake system was optimized by increasing the lining area in the drums themselves. Twin trailing-shoe front braking was adopted. The brake system was now hydraulic to both front and rear drum brakes, but still operated using the Rolls-Royce mechanical servo, which in turn was made more effective by increasing the speed at which the transmission-driven shaft rotated. Mechanical linkage assistance to the rear brakes was retained to improve feel. In 1956 the master cylinder was duplicated to allow independent operation of one set of shoes on the front brakes while the other cylinder operated the other set of front shoes and the rear brakes; the mechanical linkage to the rear brakes meant that the braking system was fail-safe. The front/ rear braking ratio was 1.36:1.

Brakes were hydraulic and assisted by the Rolls-Royce mechanical servo with 11 in (279 mm) drums and suspension was independent coils at the front and semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Twin brake master cylinders were incorporated from April 1956.

Power steering and air conditioning became available as options in 1956.

“Refrigeration” - as air conditioning was known at the time – was then a remarkable novelty in the UK, but it had existed in the USA since 1940 and Rolls-Royce had to make up ground to keep their market share. This option came at the considerable cost of £385, which came to £577 when British purchase tax was paid. This may seem insignificant today, but at the time it was almost the cost of a new Morris Minor. However, size proved to be more of a problem than cost and much time and effort was spent in working out how to install it. In the end, a two cylinder compressor was fixed to the front of the engine which was belt driven from the crankshaft, with a condenser mounted ahead of the radiator block immediately behind the grille. The refrigeration unit itself was mounted in the boot area behind the rear seat, along with centrifugal blowers ducting cool air to vents in the cant rails above and behind the passenger doors. The unit was connected to the front end by a system of pipes clipped into the body sills. Later versions had the evaporator mounted at the rear of the off-side front mudguard, feeding cool air to the face. The system was very powerful and delivered a complete change of air every 90 seconds and the engine idle speed was set higher so that the occupants would be kept cool even when the car was stationary.

Power-assisted steering was a joint project between Marles and Rolls-Royce and was introduced as an export item in March 1956 and became generally available later in that year. It proved to be very popular; though it was never to be standardised on normal wheel-based S1 types.

Hydraulic power came from a Hobourn Eaton pump, which was mounted on the front of the engine and belt driven. This operated an actuating cylinder or ram which was fixed to the chassis front cross-member and was attached to one of the forged arms which formed an idler lever in the steering linkage itself, pushing or pulling as directed. If by any chance the belt broke or the hydraulic fluid leaked out, the steering merely reverted to manual, without assistance.

The Long Wheelbase model was introduced in the autumn of 1957 at a time when Rolls-Royce were developing the new Phantom V with a colossal wheelbase of 145 in (3683mm) and the existing longer wheelbase chassis of the Silver Wraith was soon to disappear. The company decided to provide something in between and introduced a longer wheelbase of 127in (3226mm) for the Silver Cloud and at the same time the engine output was slightly increased to allow for a slightly heavier car. Since Rolls-Royce also acknowledged that the final increase was 13% then the figure for the first Silver Cloud must have been around 157bhp. The difference is very hard to spot from the outside and lies in the fact that there is a rear quarter light built in to the bodywork behind the line of the rear doors. On the standard wheelbase car the window is there, but it is part of the door itself.

The difference is very hard to spot from the outside and lies in the fact that there is a rear quarter light built in to the bodywork behind the line of the rear doors. On the standard wheelbase car the window is there, but it is part of the door itself.

The Silver Cloud Long Wheelbase could also be equipped without the division. The body was the Silver Cloud standard steel made by The Pressed Steel Co modified at Willesden by Park Ward on Design n° 858.

The roof and floor were cut to add the extra four inches, there was a new rear door incorporating the increased dimension, with a new squared window frame. The rear hinged quarter light was transferred from the door onto the thinner rear pillar.

Park Ward factory, Willesden: 29-B body on a turnover jig, ready to be fitted on the chassis. Note the longer rear door and adapted rear pillar for the quarter light.

This modification made by Park Ward - with the cutting of the roof and floor to add the extra inches, and the fitting of longer sills and rear door, but leaving untouched the rear pillars - was easier than on Design n° 858. So if we compare it with Design n° 858, Park Ward adopted just a new rear window frame - not squared like in Design n° 858, but similar to the one on the Standard Steel Saloon, having just the window area 4 inches longer.

Among the most prominent and prestigious coachbuilders for the Silver Cloud was James Young Ltd., of Bromley, Kent. This renowned shop, which was established in 1863, survived for 104 years and was known for its distinctive, instantly recognizable detailing, which included unique door handles and graceful body moldings. Following 1937, the firm worked almost exclusively on Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis, as it had been acquired by prominent London dealer Jack Barclay that year. It would survive and produce fine coaches until 1967.

Eight Silver Cloud I chassis were bodied by James Young as drophead coupes, and of these, seven were four-passenger cars.

Beginning about halfway through the production run of the Silver Cloud I, Rolls-Royce offered a drophead coupe by H.J. Mulliner, style number 7504. Unlike previous Mulliner Drophead Coupes on this chassis, the new car, referred to as an adaptation, made use of a “Standard Steel Saloon” body shell, which was heavily modified by Mulliner. This would be the standard method of construction for most Mulliner Drophead Coupes through to the end of the Silver Cloud series in 1965. No others were as rare as the Silver Cloud I variant, of which 13 were built, with 10 being left-hand-drive examples.

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