”My new engine will be as silent and as swift as clouds moving before a storm!” — Chapter 1.
”Like an arrow the, Silver Cloud shot forward on its last, most desperate race against time.” —Chapter 22.
“The Silver Cloud,” by Katrin Holland (Nicholson and Watson, 1936).
The “magic of a name” is such that an announcement of new Rolls-Royce and Bentley models arouses more than the normal amount of attention. Consequently, interest attaches to the recently introduced Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and S-series Bentley cars.
Both are virtually the same design, which means that the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is a high-performance car. It supersedes the Silver Dawn, which was the 10-ft. wheelbase 4 ½-litre Rolls-Royce of last year, although the 11 ft. 1-in. wheelbase 4 ½-litre Silver Wraith Rolls-Royce remains in production.
The new Rolls-Royce and Bentley have an engine capacity of 4,887 c.c. to ensure ample performance for their considerable bulk, this being the engine developed for the Bentley Continental in 1954, further enlarged by 37 c.c. It retains i.o.e. valve layout but now has a six-port alloy head with two S.U. HD6 carburetters, feeding through redesigned water-jacketed inlet manifolds, and new exhaust manifolding. The engine is of the old long-stroke type (95 by 114 mm.) employing the modest compression ratio of 6.75 to 1. No figures are revealed for b.h.p. or b.m.e.p., as is R.-R. practice, but road speed in top gear at 2,500 ft. per min. piston speed equals 82 ½-m.p h.
The chassis is an entirely new one, being a separate welded structure with box-section side and cruciform members, and the wheelbase increased by three inches, to 10 ft. 3 in.
It has been said that the late Sir Henry Royce excelled in perfecting conventional automotive practice rather than in the development of unorthodox designs; that this tradition is being maintained is apparent after studying the specification of the Bentley-S and Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The transmission is automatic, the delightful r.h.-change gearbox having gone before the American demand for self-selection, although driver skill can still be employed and four forward ratios of 3.42, 4.96, 9.0 and 13.03 to 1 result. But independent rear suspension, now common on Continental cars, has been eschewed in favour of an old-fashioned back axle sprung on ½-elliptic cart-springs, to which have been added such refinements as electric ride-control, anti-roll bar, rubber-bushed shackles, grooved Neoprene spring inserts, and grease-filled leather gaiters.
Front suspension is independent by unequal-length wishbones and coil-springs, damped by R.-R. hydraulic dampers. The braking system retains the famous R.-R. mechanical servo introduced thirty years ago, but this gearbox-driven brake now rotates twice as fast as before. Hydraulic operation is used at the front and trailing shoes are fitted, with automatic adjustment of almost-zero clearance. The cast-iron brake drums are of 11 ¼ in. diameter and 3 in. wider than before, giving a lining area of 240 sq. in. (compared with 186 sq. in. of the Bentley B7). The hand-brake is the all-too-familiar pull-out umbrella handle.”
There is a new steering layout with cam-and-roller gear and three-piece transverse track-linkage. The beautiful centre-lock wheels of old have given way to stud-attached pressed-steel discs, the diameter of which has been decreased from 16 in. to 15 in.
Both these new Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars have Pressed Steel Company four-door saloon bodies, with alloy doors, bonnet-top and boot-lid. Luggage space is increased, and there are such refinements as one-shot chassis lubrication, a very comprehensive heating and ventilation system with rear-window demister, separate adjustable back-rests to the bench-type front seat, and dial-type instruments for speedometer, water temperature, oil pressure and sump contents, and ammeter. Both front doors lock and upholstery is in English hide with foam-rubber overlays on spring eases; there are pile carpets and French walnut veneer facia and garnish rails.
Those who seek the best kind of English motor car bound with tradition will find their ideal in these new Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars, the prices of which are, respectively, £4,669 0s. 10d. and £4,796 10s. 1d. inclusive of p.t. Those who think in terms of small high-efficiency engines, all-independent suspension and tubular chassis, etc., may, perhaps, consider that the magic lies mainly in the name.