EXCLUSIVE: 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II

There’s no doubt that Rolls-Royce built their cars to last, but that doesn’t mean they are the easiest cars to keep on the road. While they aren’t terribly difficult to work on, they are hard to find parts for and can be plagued with electrical demons. Reader Kevin C’s Silver Cloud II has been remedied of some of these issues, as it’s had an American V8 installed! His dad bought this Rolls a number of years ago, but sadly, he passed away and the car has been sitting ever since. Kevin would like to see it go to a good home, rather than go to waste, so it’s being offered for $9,000 or best offer. It is currently located in Newington, Connecticut.

From Kevin – This Rolls-Royce was purchased by my father in 1999 from a seller in Canada. The vehicle arrived on an open trailer in a full-on winter storm. The Canadian driver said he’d driven in worse. This car is RHD but has had its engine changed to a Chevrolet 350 at some point in the past. It was driven very little after my father purchased it and even less after he passed on. The vehicle has not been on public roads in over 10 years. Chevrolet mechanicals makes this car rather easy to work on for a person interested in a Rolls Royce but not interested in paying excessively for routine maintenance.

The Jack Barclay body is solid with no visible rust and no apparent body damage.  The paint was laid on before my father purchased the car and is a 10-foot paint job at the very best.  It has not gotten better with age and there are a few spots where something is going on under the paint. The chrome is bright but is fading somewhat. There is no rust on the chrome.

The car has not run on public roads in over 10 years. The engine, a Chevrolet 350, starts and will run but the car will need some serious carburetor work before it’s anywhere near drivable. The Rolls-Royce electric fuel pump was changed not long after my father purchased the car but the aftermarket universal pump on the car seized up solid during the car’s nap. I have replaced that with a similar piece. The exhaust is somewhat louder than when the car was parked. I’m not sure what’s going on there.

The engine compartment is detailed for enough for a cruise but as the car has sat for 10 years, it’s going to need some attention. Somewhere along the line, the fuse boxes with their fussy GBC fuses were replaced with fuse boxes that take AGC-type fuses.

The car never stopped assertively and at some point during its 10-year nap, the hydraulics on the left front wheel have seized up completely. I have managed to get the drum off so that the car can move, but this is the one area where the car will need the most work. Changing the wheel cylinders (there are four on the axle) looks pretty straight forward and I’d probably do the same for the rear as well.

The power steering works well with no apparent problems. The car has an add-on under-dash air conditioning unit and a compressor mounted under the hood but that has never worked or been serviced since my father took ownership.

The wood is excellent and was lacquered shortly after my father purchased the car. The seats are maroon in color with the front seats being very dry. The rear seats are in excellent condition as are the fold-down tables.

The car has power windows with aftermarket switches installed at some point before my father took ownership of the car. They all worked when the car was parked but I believe that only two work now. The car has an aftermarket radio that was installed by Circuit City. Unfortunately, they did something during the installation process which resulted in some of the gauges no longer working. The aftermarket radio does sound nice.

Update from Kevin – I forgot to include that as the car us in Connecticut, there is no title, as CT is a non-title state for cars over 25 years old. That’s likely important to buyers. I begged all morning at DMV to no effect for a title.

While Rolls-Royce collectors would probably prefer if this car were original, having a 350 under the hood makes it more appealing to the average gear head. It provides more power, a great sound and is easy to get parts for, what isn’t there to love? You get the grandness and luxury of a Rolls, without any of the headaches! I haven’t been watching the Silver Cloud market closely, but I think his asking seems reasonable if the car is rust free and the interior is in nice shape. And I’m sure if you ask nicely, Kevin will share his Grey Poupon!

Our thanks to Kevin for listing his Dad’s Rolls with us! I’m sure the V8 would make it an interesting machine to drive. And if you have an interesting classic in your garage, barn, or shed that needs a new home, please consider listing it with us!

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Sorry, this one has SOLD!

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Comments

  1. RoselandPete

    Thanks to Burke’s Law, this is my idea of what a Rolls should look like.

    12+
    • john C

      I’m that old too, and what a great show for the car and the acting that was as sophisticated as the automobile. IMO Both these nice PMCs look so similar today… good show BF !!

      0
  2. ccrvtt

    Thanks to Matchbox cars, this is my idea of what a Rolls should look like. I had one in my boyhood collection. Back in the ’50’s they were known as the finest car in the world. Those little fold-down picnic trays are so cool and the burled walnut trim is to die for. High-maintenance indeed, but so worth it. Nice find.

    7+
  3. steve

    Neat…ish car. I would be very afraid of the brake problems. In the late 90’s I used a european parts place in Daytona Beach Florida. They had an old Rolls like this out in the parking lot. It was SUPPOSEDLY the movie car from the end of Back to the Future III. The guy who sold me my Audi parts commented that it was the move car, and was there because the owner was trying to decide what to do, it needed brakes, and the parts were over 10,000.00 I dont know if this is true, just repeating the story as it was told to me.

    7+
    • RoselandPete

      I’ve also read that Rolls parts are crazy expensive and that’s if you can even find them.

      7+
    • Al

      Been there, done that. RR parts are horribly expensive. High end Mercedes parts are a pain as well. Just ask the man that owns one.

      7+
      • Brakeservo

        I’ve owned quite a few Bentleys and Rolls Royces. If you know what you’re doing, parts are quite inexpensive. Just ask the man that knows how to own one.

        1+
    • Kevin C

      According to Post55parts.com, the total cost of the hydraulics, worst case scenario, is far under your $10,000. Wheel cylinders are about $100 a piece (times 4 would be $400) and master cylinders, should the car need it, are $300. Add in brake hoses, because why not, and they’re $25 a piece (times 4 would be $100). That brings us to $800, which seems somewhat short of $10,000, apologies to the anonymous Audi guy who just happened to be a Rolls Royce expert.

      17+
      • Al

        It’s the cost of training the mechanic in how to work on RR cars.
        Let’s see, $10,000 less $800 = $9,200, that’s about right for the specialized training needed to work on a Roller.
        Whoopee!!

        4+
      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Kevin C, you somehow forgot the master cylinder?

        1+
    • waynard

      Several years ago I facilitated the sale of a 1957 Silver Cloud for an estate. Before the car went to its new owner it had a full brake job to the tune of over $7,000.00. You’re not far off on your estimate at all.

      1+
      • Brakeservo

        I’ve heard of Rolls owners being ripped off like that, and what you’re describing may very well have been criminal fraud. Wheel and master cylinders can be rebuilt like any other cylinder and use standard and readily available hydraulic seals. Brake drums might be a tad spendy, but still available, and the brakeservo can be rebuilt for two hours labor and $30 in parts by a guy who knows what he’s doing. Bottom line – I can do a complete brake job on one of these with usually no more than $500 in parts and sub-contract labor and my time depends solely on how badly corroded the fasteners are when I have to take it apart. It”s the later cars with their hopelessly complex braking systems that legitimately cost the price of a small basic Korean car to rebuild, but I guess the stories get out, and good stories are better and more fun than facts so these things with great numbers for brake repairs start to be believed. Why heck, it just might justify the construction of a wall to keep these, uh, cars outta America!

        9+
      • Brakeservo

        RE: Al and your comment – “It’s the cost of training the mechanic in how to work on RR cars. Let’s see, $10,000 less $800 = $9,200, that’s about right for the specialized training needed to work on a Roller”

        Thirty years ago I paid an old Rolls-Royce mechanic $50 to take an afternoon and train me how to rebuild the brakeservo. That was it – fifty bucks. But that fifty bucks enabled me to buy perhaps several hundred Bentleys and Rolls-Royces over the past thirty years, all sidelined by braking issues stemming from the brakeservos. I can overhaul one in two hours and under $30 in parts. It’s not rocket science, heck it’s not even rock science!

        8+
      • Doug Towsley

        But but but,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Brake Servo! Theres only 5 people left in the US who can do this and will cost $50,000.00! Nobody can possibly learn this trade without joining the fraternal order of the Anglophiles and paying dues!
        (I am kidding of course but sadly, thats a commonly repeated mantra)

        5+
      • Dave Wright

        This is way too common in the trade……also happens with my Porsches, Mercedes and Maserati’s. These days particularly with the Mercedes it is frequently better to just find a reasonable dealer with factory trained mechanics. My dealer here in Idaho is 20.00 an he higher than a street mechanic but they know where to lay the wrenches and are not crooks or trying to pay for there own learning curve.

        0
  4. Dave Wright

    American V8 and transmission……….not much Rolls left. If it was LHD it would be a good car to restore with a rusty original for the running gear.

    4+
  5. John H from CT

    With regards to title, there is a CT form H-115 you can request, fill out and give the buyer that will help with title reissue in another state. You might also do a K-190E VIN verification, but that requires the car to be driven or trailered to a garage that is s CT authorized inspection station.

    MA has notoriously tough standards on registration. I sold a truck without a title to someone there. I had given the 40 year history of the vehicle and why no title was available. MA approved it.

    However, the best advice is if you purchase an antique car in CT, save that original title from another state and put it in a very safe place. It will make selling it in the future much easier.

    3+
    • Kevin C

      Thank you for your help. The car came from Canada with no title, so there was no title to save.

      4+
      • Bill McCoskey

        I’ve imported many vehicles from overseas, and both the US Customs {ICE I think it’s now called} and the Federal DOT have records of the car’s importation, I would suggest the owner provide these papers, they should be available for a small amount of $ to each agency. With the import paperwork it should be far easier to obtain title. States are reticent in granting a title to a car from overseas, as it could be stolen and driven over from Canada, using a rural border crossing [So the state MVA/DMV is fond of stating]

        1+
  6. Trickie Dickie

    To restore the leather seats, its very important that the buyer gets a product that all Rolls owners use. Its called Hide Food. Its a somewhat thick liquid that is best applied and rubbed in by hand. I have seen it restore leather seats to almost new condition. Actually it can be used on anything made of leather. But for some reason works especially well on the Rolls leather seats.

    6+
  7. Howard A Member

    I guess I’m a little indifferent on this one. On one hand, they took the bloody heart out of this car replaced with a SBC, always a welcome change, but I’m not sure it’s as smooth as the original V8. I read, the early Rolls V8’s had problems, and this is a logical swap. These don’t seem to bring as big a money as you’d think, even original. I got one ride in a vintage Bentley like this. My old man had a doctor friend, that had an early ’60’s Bentley. He knew I worked on cars, and asked if I could go for a ride, to listen for an annoying noise. Was a beautiful car, the noise, I determined, was the clock ticking. Repairs and parts are astronomical, but like the old saying goes, “if you have to ask how much, you probably can’t afford it”. ( although, the GM motor will help some) Nothing is more true, than owning a RR. Got to be the nicest car ever made.

    4+
  8. Fred W.

    This would be great for a limo service, as the 350 would make life a lot easier. Might have to track down kits and rebuild the wheel cylinders to keep from having to mortgage the house. Or refit with discs. I’m sure someone makes a kit (Ha!)

    3+
    • Kevin C

      All the hydraulic parts for the front brakes are available at Post55parts.com for under $1000.

      7+
  9. A.J.

    A properly maintained RR is about as reliable a car as you will find. The key is the “properly maintained” phrase.

    This looks like a decent car but the RHD is a killer value wise in the U.S.

    4+
  10. Ikey Heyman

    I once lived down the street from a guy that bought a somewhat newer Rolls – I think it was a ’65. He spent a ton of money getting it driveable, then soon afterwards something expensive malfunctioned and he refused to put any more money into it. It sat on his driveway for a couple years until he sold it for peanuts and it was towed away. I thought it was telling that the next car he bought was a 1964 Checker sedan!

    3+
  11. That Guy

    I have personal experience with a Silver Shadow that had iffy brakes. The quote for a correctly-done rebuild was $10,000-plus. But that’s largely because the Silver Shadow has a Citroen-licensed high-pressure brake system which is far more complex than ordinary cars. I sold the car as-is rather than spend that amount of money.

    I think the brakes on a Silver Cloud are much more conventional. And since the car is already modified, it might make sense to take a hot-rodder’s approach and just build a new system from scratch.

    3+
    • Kevin C

      If you have the skill and the patience, it makes a lot of sense to create a new system.

      4+
  12. David Womby

    Look closely at the spot where the front of the bonnet (hood) meets the rear of the radiator grille. To my eyes, that looks like a Bentley bonnet. Maybe the bonnet is non-original. Or the grille?

    0
    • Brakeservo

      So easy to see if the car was born a Bentley – just check the chassis number. A Bentley chassis number for this year begins with a “B” followed by one, two or three digits followed by two more letters unless it was built LHD in which case it’s three letters beginning with an “L” – B41TN is a Bentley I used to own, if it had been built LHD it would have been B41LTN. A Rolls Royce chassis number would begin with three letters then one, two or three digits – example SBA4 or if it was LHD it could be LSBA4 which was an actual car I owned, the second 1949 Rolls Royce Silver Dawn built and obviously LHD. So the chassis number tells you if it was born a Bentley or Rolls and if it was RHD or LHD. A number of these cars have undergone sex change operations with Bentleys masquerading as Rolls Royces or RHD cars now with their steering wheels on the “wrong” side but the chassis number tells all. It appears on the frame rail in the engine compartment and on a plate on the left side of the firewall and blank plates have been found or made so a determined forger can make a car look fairly authentic.

      0
  13. jtnc

    One statement in the intro that is highly inaccurate is that it is hard to find parts for a Silver Cloud. Nothing could be further from the truth. Almost everything is readily available from Post55 Parts, Crewe Parts, Albers and many other sources. Not necessarily inexpensive, but certainly available. A few items like coils maybe hard to find. Having already had the engine replaced with a SBC 350, being RHD, and generally needing a lot of work, there is no good reason for anyone who aspires to a Silver Cloud to buy this one. But if someone would like the challenge of reviving it, they should not worry about parts availability.

    3+
    • Kevin C

      So very true. In an email from Post55Parts.Com, they indicated that they’d be happy to send me everything the job could possibly need and then take back what was not used, providing I got my butt in gear and did my repairs on receipt of parts rather than 10 months later. Moreover, there’s a YouTube channel on Rolls-Royce repairs. The mechanic in that series of videos, a member of the secret $9200-dollar-trained order of Rolls-Royce mechanics, responded to my questions within 12 hours and gave me advice on getting the drum off. I suspect that he’d be equally helpful to any other person who sent him a message if the instructional videos didn’t cover the topic.

      4+
  14. Doug Towsley

    Check out this picture,,, Rolls Royce towing racing motorcycles on a trailer.
    So, in this pix I hope they gave the old girl a good washing and detail to eliminate the salt. I know a number of people who race at the salt and its critical to clean EVERYWHERE.
    I have met these guys a few times. I took a bunch of pictures about 15 years ago when I first met them. They showed up at a big warehouse sale for vintage British bike inventory (Most was NOS parts and bikes in the crates) Being “in tune” MC guys of course they showed up as well. I was dumbfounded to see their race bike tow rig. I posted the pix on the Oregon vintage MC (OVM) yahoo list and it got forwarded to cycle world who wrote an article about these guys.
    They are Canadians from BC and avid racers. They use this car to attend races all over the US and Canada. They have driven it to Daytona multiple times (X-Country from BC) and can be found at tracks all over wherever there is vintage racing going on. Last I talked to them they kept the car largely stock but well maintained. I am told by many experts that these cars are easily capable of extremely high mileage if properly maintained. This car last I heard is still going strong and still attending races and mileage keeps just rolling on. So, at least in this case, Affordable and long lasting CAN be associated with a Rolls Royce.
    * Note this pix is not mine, I have about 10-20 pictures of it and their race bikes but my filing system is not the best.

    3+
  15. Brakeservo

    Regarding today’s comments on supposedly hard to find or expensive parts – what a collection of horse s**t we have today, people who’ve never owned one chiming in on how hard or expensive parts are! These comments are all crock!

    Virtually every part is still available, and generally fairly cheap to buy as well! Apart from the aluminum engine block (and failure of such justifies a well-done Chevy conversion) the electrics are dead reliable, the brakes remarkably effective and the GM designed transmission is bullet-proof! But the engines are problematical (see my comments on the Bentley earlier today) and the bodies can harbor all sorts of hidden rust traps.

    Most backyard hacks who try to put the ubiquitous SBC 350 into one of these have no idea how the transmission powers the brakes through the mechanical brakeservo so they jerk the proper four-speed automatic out and try to replace it with a generic GM automatic and then never figure out how to make the car safely stop! That’s why most of these don’t drive or are terribly dangerous if they do!

    The key is to replace as little as possible – it was a professionally engineered car by people who (not entirely wrongly) considered themselves the builders of “The Best Car in the World” and as built it worked rather well. The four-wheel drum brakes equal the performance of discs at the time and actually had a form of mechanical ABS built-in.

    But if the engine is toast, yeah, the only economical alternative is an American V8 but the best installation uses the original transmission, brakes etc.

    8+
    • waynard

      My. Aren’t we testy.

      1+
      • Howard A Member

        Perhaps a bit, but spot on.

        2+
    • Bill McCoskey

      Brakeservo: I was about to leave a message explaining the lack of braking power, but you’ve saved me the effort!

      Back around 1990 I was selling a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow needing a replacement engine due to the driver putting the car thru a drive-thru car wash, where the car wash mechanisms under the car ripped out the oil drain plug!

      The driver, not understanding things like a bright red light on the instrument group, or a loud knock in the engine area, continued to let the car idle for over 15 minutes, because the car wash shut down as soon as the oil was detected!

      I bought the car cheap, repaired the drain plug and to my surprise, it only knocked on very hard acceleration! Sold it to a buyer on the west coast [Oregon or Washington, don’t remember which] who showed up at my shop in a 1962 Silver Cloud II that had been fitted with a SBC 350. He wanted me to take a look at the brakes as it wasn’t stopping well. Without looking at the car, I told him what was wrong – no power brakes on a car that was about 6,000 pounds.

      I put my ’58 Cloud up in the air and showed him the Hispano-Suiza licensed mechanical power brake system, then put his car up so he could see what was missing. I told him unless he was willing to install a replacement R-R drive train, I could not help him.

      I could see fresh weld marks on the back end where the rear bumper had been removed and a USED heavy duty tow hitch [from a different car] had been welded to the frame. He then explained he was going to tow the car he got from me with the Cloud he bought in Pennsylvania a few days earlier. With no power brakes. 2 cars at about 12,000 pounds!

      He paid the balance owed on the Shadow, hooked it up to the Cloud with a bumper mounted tow bar, and just before he pulled out, he mentioned it was his first time driving across America! Then asked me if there were any “steep hills” between Maryland & his home on the west coast!

      Never heard from him again, and often wonder if he made it through western Pennsylvania! Almost forgot, he was driving the Cloud using the old British license plates!

      0
      • ed p

        The mountains in Maryland and Pennsylvania may pale compared to the Rockies, but that much weight and such a braking deficiency would scare me.

        0
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Brakeservo, isn’t the RR brake system a piloted servo system?

      The engine brake pump supplies a certain amount of pressure, that the driver controls indirectly by the brake pedal.

      Basically the brake pedal provides none of the stopping power itself, it just meters out the pressure made by the engine.

      The great thing is you ALWAYS have pressure available and the driver feel is not indicative of how hard the brakes are working.

      Only Citroen is more unique.

      1+
      • Brakeservo

        The system you describe is used on the Silver Shadows and subsequent cars. Prior drum brake cars including those from the 1920s with four wheel brakes onward are powered by a strictly mechanical transmission mounted brakeservo. The car at hand left the factory with these mechanical brakes and they cease to work when you do the common Chevy conversion, requiring substantial reengineering to make the car stop safely again. The system was professionally engineered with decades of experience behind it, the typical back yard builder with a cutting wheel and torch rarely figures it out.

        0
  16. Rodney

    Is it possible to suggest a moratorium on Grey Poupon references to Rolls Royce? And while we are at it, extend that to Back to the Future references to Deloreans? Both of these cars are so much more than these very tired and cliched references. It stopped being clever and/or ironic a long time ago. Perhaps it is just me. Just a thought…..

    6+
    • Trickie Dickie

      Rodney, I am sure with you on this. Let us also include endless and tiresome constant reference to suicide doors on cars, especially on the Continentals. Oh LOOK, suicide doors, OMG suicide doors, WOW. W H Y ?????

      5+
  17. Rodney

    Amen.

    4+
  18. Stewart

    I wonder what issues no title would make for shipping it back to the land of RHD and it’s birth? (Where the correct engine and trans are easily found)

    0
  19. Brakeservo

    Illegal to export without a title and more easy to find the original type engine and trans in USA than in England as there are far more here than there. Makes no sense to restore, cost to do so will greatly exceed value. Rear axle most likely changed too as original rear brakes will only work with mechanism on original transmission – this is why most of these conversions were not properly planned out. But if you’re one who believes the car will be impossibly hard and expensive to maintain with the original drivetrain, you’re also just as likely to have no idea how hard it will be to convert to Chevy power if you don’t retain the original transmission and mechanically operated brakes.

    1+
  20. Bill McCoskey

    The best Swap of mechanicals on a Rolls-Royce has to go to a good friend in Baltimore, who set a Cloud body on [I believe] a Ford Econoline van chassis with a 6-cylinder drive train. It’s been 30 years since I looked at it, but as I recall, he sold the entire running Rolls-Royce chassis & drive train for about what it cost to do the conversion!

    1+
  21. Kevin C

    Update: I was able to locate an Ontario MOT “Ownership Card” for this car. Can anyone advise if it serves the same purpose as a title in the US?

    0
  22. kevin

    that’s so cool it has a sbc

    0
  23. Brakeservo

    @Kevin – yeah, but read everything and you’ll see the car could be a real PITA if you ever want to hit the brakes and stop!

    1+

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