Hi there, came to look at your Silver Cloud an…

Hi there, came to look at your Silver Cloud and saw your ‘ask me anything’ so am hoping you can answer something for me. Am in a town and we’re hoping to open a Mens Shed next year and one of the projects a lot of guys are interested in, is an Electric Vehicle conversion. Want to break one of the cardinal rules (keep the kerb weight down), and go for something desirable, as we would regret converting something only Noddy would drive, going for a RR. What year did RR start installing computers?

Hi, and thanks for your question!

What an interesting project!

The Silver Shadow models and their Bentley T-Type equivalents (also known as SY series, 1965-1980) are devoid of electronics except for the very last model year when EFI was added. Their successors, the SZ series 1980-1999, known as Silver Spirit, Bentley Eight, Mullsane, Turbo-R, all became more “electronic” throughout their run. Of course, the Silver Seraph and Bentley Arnage (1998-2002) were produced by BMW and are full of electronics.

An ideal candidate for conversion from an electronics standpoint would be the SY series of cars (Silver Shadow and Bentley T-Type). Also, given their “classic” body style, an electric conversion would definitely be a conversation piece.

That said, you may want to consider the following:

The SY and SZ series both utilize the L-410 engine which is a 6.75 liter V-8. This engine runs two, cam-shaft driven, hydraulic pumps which power the braking and suspension systems. It is a unique and somewhat complicated system borrowed from Citroën. So, if you replace the engine with an electric power plant, you will also need to replace the braking and suspension systems. Not an impossible task by any means, but it is something to consider.

I have come across many SY series cars that have been sitting for long periods of time and therefore need complete and expensive overhauls of this hydraulic system. Because of this deferred maintenance and the expense to put right, those cars are cheap. If you were to find one in this condition (and you definitely can) and it has a decent interior and straight body etc, you would have a great candidate for conversion. Also, you could find a buyer for the removed L-410 engine as people are rebuilding them. As a side note, the L-410 engine was developed in the 1950s and is still utilized (in a highly evolved form) by Bentley Motors today. It is a rather good engine.

I hope this has been helpful, and best of luck with your project. I hope you keep me informed of your progress!