Your motto should always be: “Never say never and never say always” (M&BG 2001) There can be exceptions. It has been normal practice to retro-fit this year’s new feature to last year’s model or to the model of several years ago. It was not unusual in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties to avoid the expense of buying a new model by simply having a more up-to-date body built on one’s existing car.
This is not intended to be a definitive guide and not every model is covered.
The invaluable information and some photos gleaned from the following books is acknowledged: Johnnie Green “ Bentley - Fifty Years of the Marque” Dalton Watson 1969 Paul Woudenberg “Illustrated Rolls-Royce Bentley Buyer’s Guide” Motorbooks International 1984 James Taylor “Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65” Bay View Books 1999 and various photographers, too numerous to mention!
Thanks also go to Jim Kelso, Kim Stapleton and Tony Ward for their advice. All remaining errors are those of the author Margaret Gillings © 2006
PRE-WWII CARS FROM THE FRONT : RADIATORS, LIGHTS & BUMPER BARS.
‘AX201’ is a 1907 40/50HP chassis no. 60551. Originally named “The Silver Ghost”, the name has come to be applied to all of them. 40/50HPs, known as Silver Ghosts, were made in Manchester & Derby UK from 1907 to 1925 and in the U.S.A. from 1921 to 1926 (see below.) The radiator really is a radiator, not just a grille. British built Ghosts had no shutters and seldom had a bumper bar. Some early lights were acetylene, later they were electric
Some cars make it easy!
The “Springfield” Silver Ghosts were made in Springfield Mass. USA from 1921 to 1926. They have shutters, usually horizontal, occasionally vertical and a typically American bumper bar, sometimes cylindrical, sometimes flat. Don’t confuse it with the 20HP (next page). Look for drum-shaped headlights
1924 Springfield Ghost S64LK. Pickwick R-R Custom Coachwork body with horizontal shutters.
1926 Springfield Ghost S348RL vertical shutters, typical American style bumper & white wall tyres.
...and from the side
In Ghosts, Cantilever rear springs were often exposed above the running boards. In the later models, like the New Phantom, they are usually hidden.
The 20 H.P. is generally a smaller-all-over car, built in Brutain from 1922 to 1929. They nearly always have horizontal shutters. Some have bumper bars, some don’t. No 20 H.P.s were built in the USA.
PHANTOMS New Phantom (PI) Phantom II Phantom III
The New Phantoms (PIs) were built in Derby from 1925 to 1929 and in Springfield from 1926 to 1931. The PI’s radiator is virtually square. All pre-war Phantoms have vertical shutters. The Phantom II was built in Derby from late 1929 to 1935 and was the last model designed by Sir Henry Royce. It has a higher radiator than the PI and the chassis is lower. It has a larger radiator filler cap than a Ghost or a PI. Underneath, you can tell a PI by its cantelever springs and its torque tube, neither of which are on the PII.
Two 20/25 H.P.s 1931 GFT11 & 1934 GRC53
20/25H.P., 25/30H.P. and Wraith
20/25H.P.s were built from 1929 to 1936 and 25/30s from 1936 to 1938. Both were smaller cars than the Phantoms but, unlike the 20HPs, had vertical radiator shutters. 25/30s and Wraiths usually have kneeling mascots.. The only real observable difference between 20/25 and 25/30 is on the steering column. Both 25/30s and Wraiths usually have kneeling mascots.
Left: 20/25H.P. compared with 25/30H.P. & wraith steering column controls. 20/25s have throttle, carburettor & ignition controls whereas the 25/30 does not. The 25/30 horn is marked “loud/soft”
1936 Mulliner-bodied 25/30 H.P GGM10
James Young-bodied 1939 Wraith WHC80
Built in 1938 and 1939, the Wraith is still a 25/30 H.P. but with bigger 650 tyres. It is often confused with the PIII. Bonnet sides have only two vents, the PIII bonnet has three. Note the wheel nut differences on page 5. Most Wraiths have centre-mounted fog lamps.
The Phantom III, built from 1936 to 1939 is generally more streamlined and ‘thirtieslooking’, usually with large imposing coachwork. The model has independent front suspension and the huge radiator is mounted forward of the line between the hubs where the front axle would have been if it had one. Right: 1938 Phantom III 3DL 146
The model has independent front suspension and the huge radiator is mounted forward of the line between the hubs where the front axle would have been if it had one
The Phantom III wheels have the traditional RR centre, locking by a splined centre piece that is disengaged when the wheel spanner is applied, while the Wraith has centre locking wheels with eightsided nuts like the Derby Bentleys. Note the difference in the wheel spanners required.
Derby Bentleys: Pre-WWII Rolls-Royce Built Bentleys
The 3½ litre Bentley was made by Rolls-Royce at Derby from 1933 to 1936 and the 4¼ litre from 1936 to 1940. There are few external differences between the two. If you see a backward leaning “Flying B” mascot, it is probably on a Pre-war Bentley. These were gradually replaced by forward leaning mascots that weren’t hit by the bonnet when it was opened.
The Post-WWII Cars, built at Crewe:
The Silver Dawn, built from 1949 to 1955, was what is now known as “badge engineered” from the Bentley MarkVI to appeal to the American market. Most have the standard steel body.
The Silver Wraith, built from 1946 to 1959, was a continuation of the pre-war car. Its ‘look’ varies over that time. The long wheelbase, fitted with 16” wheels introduced in 1951 became standard a year later .
Both Silver Dawns and Silver Wraiths typically have kneeling mascots
Post WWII Bentleys nearly all have forward leaning mascots
Mark VI (1946-52)& R Type (1952-55) Bentleys. Early Mark VIs have 10 shutters in each side of the radiator. Later there are 9 shutters per half. The R Type has 9 with centre bar (count the LHS !). All R Types are 4 ½ litre ie.‘big bore’ engines and many have automatic transmission.
From 1946 to 1951 Mark VIs were “small bore, small boot”. Later ones & R Types had bottom opening, larger boots and more sweeping rear lines.
Rolls-Royce Silver Clouds & S Series Bentleys
Cloud I & S1 had flat headlight glass but many have been upgraded to curved glass fitted
Clouds II & III and S2 & S3 have curved headlight glass
The Silver Clouds I, II & III and the Bentley S 1, S 2, and S 3 were built from 1955 to 1965 and continued the Company’s ‘badge engineering’ policy. The Cloud III & S 3 are identified by ‘quad lights’ (see S 3 photo above) and the 1½” lower radiator that requires a slightly sloping bonnet line.
Clouds and S Series Bentleys were the last of the models built on a chassis. The chassis can be seen clearly in the cut-away diagram of the Cloud above. However, it is clear from the view of the legs of the man standing inside the engine compartment of the Shadow, that this has no chassis.
SILVER SHADOW, SILVER SHADOW II, CORNICHE, CAMARGUE, BENTLEY T AND BENTLEY T2
37,174 vehicles of these were built at Crewe from 1965 to 1976 ( Whatever you do, don’t call them “Shadow One” or “Bentley T One”!)
The Silver Shadow & the Bentley T are identical in everything but the radiator, the badging and the slightly different bonnets to fit the two radiator shapes. 16,717 Shadows, 2,776 longwheelbase Shadows & 1,712 Bentley Ts were made. The bumper bar is polished stainless steel with no shock absorbing strip.
The Silver Shadow II and the Bentley T2, built from 1977 to 1980, are also identical except for the radiators, badging and bonnet slope. The differences from the previous models are that they are fitted with black, shock absorbing bumper bars and have the air dams underneath the front bumper There is a badge on the boot and, usually, twin exhaust pipes.
From April 1974 the wheels arches of the Shadow were flared to accommodate radial tyres.
Does that “dip” mean it’s a Shadow or a Corniche?
This is NOT a Corniche but a Shadow two-door coupe with Mulliner Park-Ward coachwork. The slight “dip” just forward of the rear wheels was also featured on the Shadow convertible. The dip later became standard on the Corniche. There is also a Bentley Corniche. see page 11.
This IS a 1980 R-R Corniche. Note SS II type bumper bars. In 1971 the Corniche replaced the Shadow coupe and convertible and continued until 1984. To make sure which is which, look for the Corniche medallion on the boot.
This is a two-door coupe saloon easily identified by the square housing around circular headlights and a wrap-around panel of indicator and parking lights. The radiator (grille) is angled forward very slightly. The Camargue is quite a rare model as it was produced from 1975 in small numbers only. There are only 11 listed in the 2009 “Chassis Plate”.
The Disappearing Mascot first appeared (and Disappeared) on the Silver Spirit
The Silver Spirit is about 4 cms wider and 2 cms lower than the Shadow. The headlights are square and wrap around the guards. (The backscratcher attached to the radiator is an optional extra.) The Bentley Mulsanne is the companion version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit.
The easiest way to tell a Spirit from a Shadow is to look at the doors. On the Shadow, the door handle is onthe line of the trim whereas on the Spirit the door handle is above the line of trim.
The Silver Spur
The Silver Spur is the longwheel base version of the Spirit and is easily identified by the medalion just behind the rear quarter window Left: The boot on the Spur, (top) has a low sill for easy loading in comparison with, say, the Camargue (bottom).
The Silver Seraph: 1570 produced between 1999 & 2002.
The last model made by the old company has very distinctive headlights.
Post-War Bentleys - They have a bad habit of repeating names!
1974 Bentley Corniche. Notice the “dip”.
Above & Below: The Bentley Eight (1987-1992) has a mesh grille “evocatively reminiscent of the Bentley race winners of the past”
2001 Arnage with a similar “racing car” mesh grille.
1993 Turbo R (Green Label)
SOME OTHER MODELS THAT YOU MAY NOT SEE VERY OFTEN
Phantoms IV and V have rear Suicide Doors
The Phantom VI has regular front hinged doors.
There were 516 Phantom Vs built from 1959 to 1968. P V rear doors open to the front for forward entry There were only 18 of their predecessor, the Phantom IV since that model was only available to royalty and heads of state. A Phantom IV (if you ever see one!) can be identified by its smaller wheels; 7.00x17 tyres compared with the P Vs 8.90x15 tyres. Around 300 Phantom VIs were built between 1968 and 1982. From 1972, P VI rear doors opened to the rear in the usual way. Phantoms IV, V and VI all had special coachwork.
After the Two Marques were Separated:
The Goodwood Phantom 2003
The Goodwood Phantom also has suicide doors.