Added 4th March 2018
Throughout my life I have had a large interest in anything to do with transport but my Rolls-Royce interest was brought into perspective in July 1954 when I became acquainted with Bill Matthews who owned a 1936 Barker Bodied 20/25 and was a member of the RROC in America and the 20 Ghost Club.
Starting in 1953 I came up to London for the Motor Show and every other year the Commercial Motor Show. So my usual visit in 1954 introduced me to the Silver Cloud – S Series car and I was well hooked but far beyond my meagre financial position.
In 1978 I took the bull by the horns and joined the RREC after very little persuasion by Eric Barrass to whom I had been introduced. I joined the South West Section but attending events was nigh on impossible as we were living in the Isles of Scilly at the time.
Fast forward to August 1995 when I was in the position to buy a Rolls. My aim was a Cloud 1 or Shadow II. One of my trade enquiries was at Hooper Alpe in Marylebone High Street, they had nothing to offer but we agreed to keep in touch. Come November I went to see a Shadow II in Lincolnshire but it was not my car. At the time I was on my way to Castle Donnington for a meeting and realised that I had found a right sounding car in The Times. The following Tuesday I trained to Stafford and there it was an immaculate 1980 57k Shadow II.
In April 1996 I was invited to join Hooper & Co. the Coachbuilders based at Southall with frequent visits to the Marylebone High Street showroom. My function there was to oversee the proposed Landaulette adaption on the Silver Spur, the prototype being a 1985 car in royal blue with magnolia interior. The grand plan was that following completion the car was to be my business car and Hooper would sell my Shadow II. I had now become a SZ fan and as a consequence I acquired a Hooper supplied and serviced 1985 Bentley Mulsanne C801 CYN, house name ‘Cynthia’, with a turbo R suspension package. After the waftability of the Shadow II and Spur this was a different kettle of fish – hard ride etc., after all it was a Bentley!
At the 1998 Annual I sold the Bentley to Eric Bauly. My next purchase was back to Rolls-Royce with a 1986 Spirit in Cotswold beige which had been recently unloved and parked under a tree! It turned out to be a very nice car, the only fault being the paintwork which was corrected, at a small cost, and an annoying AC fault which was eventually cured. Come Christmas 2000 I was offered a 1976 Bentley T with a minor engine fault, an occasional noisy tappet but otherwise totally immaculate in Peacock Blue with a beige interior and all for £2,000. So goodbye to the Spirit! and hello Nigel Sandell, God Bless him! Nigel took on servicing the T and in spite of all his efforts the occasional tappet noise refused to be silenced. Otherwise the car performed well. At the Rolls-Royce gathering at Duxford we were able to test our cars out on the main runway. Well the T returned its production 0-60 times and was just on the 100 when it was ‘anchors’ time – the end of the runway was very close!
Whilst using the T a local club member asked me to store his 1986 Silver Spirit for a few weeks and this much later led me to buying the car for £5,000 and I was now the proud owner of two club cars. Apart from a good valet and service the Spirit was excellent.
This was subsequently sold to a Surrey Section member and now resides in Tenerife. Come November 2003 the Bentley T went to a new home and in April 2004 I bought back my beloved Bentley Mulsanne – five years since I last drove it – a total time-warp. Two years on due to a back problem Eric bought the car back from me and after that Nigel helped me with a variety of cars until January 2010 when along came a much neglected 1983 Silver Spirit, a true restoration project. In spite of all its disagreeable exterior faults it drove magnificently and gradually became a much loved car. Whilst Nigel cared for the mechanics I set about stripping out the interior for refurbishment. All the hide was totally refurbished by Leathercraft Restorations in Warrington, woodwork re-finished by Silvercrest in Iver, Buckinghamshire, and Paul Antingham attended to the paintwork. A close friend re-polished all the stainless with Nigel putting the finishing touches by way of a major service and a set of proper white wall tyres. It looked stunning.
By then I had acquired through Nigel a 1987 Hooper adaption Silver Spur which regrettably led me to not keeping my eye on the ball. The Spirit was sold to France and by all accounts is in good hands. The Spur eventually was sold in June 2016 and that was the last Rolls-Royce I owned.
As to the future, who knows what lies around the corner and as for the present I have a small collection of rare Rover cars plus an 02 registered Rover 75 – the next best thing to a Bentley Arnage!