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Car of the Month - July 2009
Bentley S1 Continental, 1957, #BC27CH,


Bentley S1 Continental

Compared with the production figures of other motor car manufacturers only a fairly low number of Rolls-Royce and Bentley have been made. Inevitably only selected garages – mainly those from the dealers' network – had access to appropriate information as regards service and maintenance. Only a limited number of mechanics were well-trained and familiar with the details of these precious cars. What came from the factory at Crewe during the 50s were cars of rather conservative technical standard. Several of the units although not to be considered "advanced high tech" were quite complicated.

When the cars were new service had to be top-level and that is essential even more nowadays on 50 year old cars. There is no desperate situation because several workshops built up a fine reputation over the years from executing proper maintenance and repairs (alas, there are a shockingly high number of ‘cowboys’, too!). Certainly one of the benefits of membership with one of the clubs devoted to the marques is access to technical information. Last but not least it might be considered a tremendous advantage that the company produced for all their post-war models and for quite a few of their pre-war models very fine Technical Service Documents. Arguably the most valuable among these are Workshop Manuals and Part Lists or Spare Parts Catalogues.

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Bentley S1 Continental

Talking about Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I and Bentley S1 some additional notes as regards T.S.D. (Technical Service Documents) might be of interest:
Rolls-Royce started the new model-series Silver Cloud I and S1 with no (!) Workshop Manual - they provided but some essential Technical Data to the garages from their dealer network. That was ok, because most technical components were developed from what had been used on previous models, hence the mechanics did know about the basic design and function. Rolls-Royce arranged for a "Parts List" with fabulously detailed “exploded views” that show all components of each unit and provides correct description. – Such is invaluable because “one picture tells more than a thousand words”. It is necessary though to mention that the early edition of the Parts List only shows what the standard of early cars has been (e.g. only one brake circuit – whereas later models had two hydraulic brake circuits, etc.). Hence it might not be the best decision to acquire the early Parts List; the Parts List from a later edition (1959, the year the series finished) is more complete because there are given all parts in detail that were used for the model series Silver Cloud I and Bentley S1.

A collector however with several of these cars might prefer the even later 1961 Parts List - because that is covering the later models Silver Cloud II, S2 and Phantom V powered by V8-engine. These had many components (e.g. the coachwork, etc.) in common with the Silver Cloud I/S1. By that time (end of 50ies/early 60ies) the company also had available what is a most comprehensive Workshop Manual - that is covering Silver Cloud I/S1 with 6-cylinder engine plus the range of Silver Cloud II/S2/PV with V8-engine.

So what has all this to do with that fine Bentley S1 Continental appearing here as "Car of the Month"? Well, when recently complying with a request for a Workshop Manual plus a Spare Parts Catalogue for Silver Cloud I/S1 it was found that “TSD 547, Parts List, Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I & Bentley S1” does contain “Section Q: Clutch (Synchromesh Gearbox)” – although standard of cars from the Silver Cloud I/S1 model range had been an automatic gearbox. However to special order one single Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I had been delivered and as regards Bentley S1 a handful of cars had been made with manual gearbox. Chances are as rare as hen's teeth you’ll ever see one of these. At least you’ll know about their existence and the fact that details are to be found in Technical Service Documents.

Bentley S1 Continental



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