By Rolls-Royce to San Sebastian

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Our explanation for the absence of a Motor Sport test report on the Rolls-Royce seems to have done other journalists a power of good. Tony Brooks was commissioned to report on a Silver Cloud after driving it from Le Touquet to Cap Ferrat, Erik Johnson temporarily overlooked the supremacy of Mercedes-Benz products (for which he is the British Sales Director) to write of this expensive motor car in The Manager, and during April The Sunday Times Colour Magazine devoted a two-page spread to this controversial subject.

Indeed, they entered into the spirit of the discussion, with quite a by-line, reading: “It was Rolls-Royce themselves who first made the arrogant claim that theirs was ‘the best car in the world.’ Today the cost of buying and running a Rolls is almost as high as for a light aircraft; at the same time, many people believe that, technically, the Mercedes-Benz 600 is more in keeping with the times [The Sunday Times?—Ed.]. With its classic radiator and resolutely orthodox specification, is the 1964 Rolls-Royce anything more than the ultimate in motoring status symbols? Is it really the best car in the world?”

After driving a Silver Cloud over snow, slush and ice from Dunkirk to San Sebastian between a 5.30 a.m. start and dinner, with a coffee stop outside Rouen and 1½ hours for lunch at Tours, a run of 672 miles at an average speed of 48 m.p.h., apparently they decided that it is.

The Sunday Times correspondent saw these cars being made and drove a total of nearly 2,000 Rolls-Royce miles. He obtained performance figures of 0-60 m.p.h. in 11 sec., 0-100 m.p.h. in 35 sec., a top speed of 115 m.p.h., and fractionally less than 14 m.p.g. The only criticisms concerned a trace of back-axle tramp when accelerating hard out of a bend, A certain amount of roll on tight corners, minimal instability in a strong cross-wind, and jerkiness in certain downward automatic gear-changes. The final verdict was that there is no better car in the world.

We are surprised to see, however, that The Sunday Times states that the mechanical brake servo was “invented by Sir Henry Royce.” In fact, Rolls-Royce Ltd. paid royalties to Hispano-Suiza and Renault for the use of it; it was employed on Panhard-Levassor, Chenard-Walcker, Bignan, Fiat, Sunbeam and other production cars, and for racing by Ballot, Fiat, Sunbeam and Delage, between 1920 and 1927.

Rolls-Royce Ltd. must surely be grateful to Motor Sport for the excellent publicity which other more-favoured writers, who have been permitted to sample their precious vehicles, are providing, lime-lighted by our recent Editorial!—W. B.

[After all, what price a Silver Cloud? I saw a pre-war R.-R. 20 van for sale at about £80 the other day, and as I am assured by experts that no Rolls-Royce has ever worn out . . .—Ed.]