This piece was originally written by Martin Bennett and published by Praeclarum.

Identifying Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud handbooks

Rolls-Royce and Bentley handbooks, like the cars themselves, were real gems, beautifully printed and bound and with clear information and illustrations. In the ownership of one of these cars, possession of the correct handbook for your model is vital. Better still if, like your Registrar, you have the original handbook issued with your car when it was new, the retention of authenticity in the car’s later life is significantly enhanced.

Silver Cloud I handbooks had light olive covers, while Silver Cloud II and III books had red covers. Bentley S1 handbooks were black, while those of the S2 and S3 were green. The Silver Cloud I and Bentley S1 handbook covers were the clip-down type, with a press-stud holding down the flapon the front cover, similar to those of the earlier post war models. Oddly enough, the First and Second Editions of the Silver Cloud II and Bentley S2 books uniquely had a clip-down cover with the clip-down flap on the back of the book, the Third Edition having conventional covers without the clip-down feature. The conventional covers continued for the Silver Cloud III and Bentley S3 books, which were still red and green respectively.

There were several editions of the Silver Cloud I and Bentley S1 handbooks, to cover later developments such as larger carburettors, higher compression ratio and power-assisted steering. In the late 1970s some reprint handbooks were issued. Despite having an elegant external appearance in black blockedin gold, the print quality of many of the illustrations left a good deal to be desired. These reprints also lacked the clip-down cover feature. Nevertheless, they were far better than having no handbook at all.


1. The Bentley S1 handbook showing the clip-down cover feature

2. Inside the original handbook of S1 B639FD, owned by Denis Deasey (VIC)

3. A 1977 reprint of the six-cylinder Silver Cloud handbook No. VIII, an example of the reprints referred to in the text. The original SCI handbooks had light olive clip-down covers

4. The Silver Cloud III Mulliner Park Ward coachbuilt cars had a dedicated handbook, and there was a handbook Supplement (not shown) to cover the much rarer cars with coachwork by James Young

5. Silver Cloud III and Bentley S3 handbooks

6. The Bentley S2 handbook

7. This is a Silver Cloud III book, but all Rolls-Royce and Bentley handbooksof the period shared a familiar similarity inside