Monday, September 23, 2013

Rolls-Royce Instructions to Chauffeurs
We had a family friend who was the president of a New York Rolls-Royce motor club. Whenever he'd visit, John would arrive driving a classic Rolls-Royce or Bentley, and it would cause a little stir in the neighborhood, and certainly in me! Of course no visit would be complete without a ride. At a much later date — when I was driving a Volkswagen Beetle — John gave me a little chauffeur's booklet published by Rolls-Royce.

Should you acquire the services of a chauffeur, and especially one to drive a Rolls-Royce, herewith are a few tips.

What A Good Chauffeur Should Know

Personal Appearance
A uniformed chauffeur must always present a smart appearance wearing a white shirt and collar with black tie and black shoes. Brown leather gloves must be worn when driving.

Appearance of Car
A clean car and engine reflect credit on the chauffeur and every opportunity should be taken to remove dust and/or surplus oil from the engine
It is also his responsibility to ensure that all the ash trays are empty and clean.

A chauffeur should always touch his cap when opening a door to allow a passenger entry or exit. At all times he should stand by his car ready to open or close doors and he must not take up his driving position until all passengers are comfortably seated. Upon arrival at his destination the chauffeur should always be the first out of the car to assist passengers to alight, and he must always walk round the back of his car to gain access to the driving seat, when occasion demands.

When keeping appointments a chauffeur should ensure that he is five minutes early as punctuality is essential.

If a member of the Royal Family is being driven, a chauffeur must remove his cap directly the Royal personage comes out a door, and must not put it on again until he starts driving; in the same way, when pulling up anywhere, he must remove his cap directly he stops the car and keep it off until the Royal personage has entered the doorway.

A chauffeur must not leave his driving seat unless the Royal personage is unattended.

Station Procedure
When meeting a passenger at a railway station a chauffeur should wait at the barrier to assist the passenger with his luggage. Before stowing the luggage he must first ensure that his passenger is comfortably seated.

If a passenger arrives at a station platform without a barrier, a chauffeur must be on the alert ready to carry out the above duties. The carrying of bags also applies to passengers leaving or entering an hotel.

Under no circumstances should a chauffeur enter into conversation unless first addressed by a passenger and his reply should then be brief but courteous, and the conversation should not be continued unless encouraged by the passenger.

Smoking is not done whilst driving a passenger, during waiting periods, or when en route to meet passengers; a chauffeur should not smoke in the car for at least half an hour before picking up a passenger and windows must be opened to remove all traces of smoke.

When undertaking unfamiliar journeys the chauffeur should ascertain the best route before departure. During inclement weather advice should be obtained from the R.A.C. or A.A., as to the best route.

Should a chauffeur be involved in an accident, however slight, he should obtain all the information necessary to complete the approved accident form, and it is essential to exchange names and addresses. Where possible, particulars of the other party’s Insurance Company should also be obtained.

Washing of Car
The best time to wash a car is immediately after coming in especially if wet or muddy. Use only clean cold water, starting at the top and working down, with clean sponges and leathers (reserve one sponge and one leather for body panels). Window runs and door joints should not be exposed to the full force of the hose.

When leathering of the car the leather should be washed out frequently in clean water and all surplus water should be wrung out before use.

Do not forget to sponge and leather all the door frames and door edges and finally clean all windows inside and out winding down the moveable windows to clean the portion normally covered by the window runs.

Polishing Cellulose Paint
After washing and leathering off, allow to dry thoroughly before polishing, then apply a good wax polish using a soft moistened cloth. Polish with a firm pressure in a circular motion, then, using a new dry cloth, remove the excess polish and complete the operation of polishing with a third dry polishing cloth until a lustre is obtained. Complete a small area at a time. Polishing cloths must be free from grit. Do not use polish when the car is warm, or try to polish in the sun. Every third month, after washing, remove traffic film and other atmospheric deposits and the residual wax with a cleaning agent, such as Belco No. 7; afterwards re-wax.

Care of Upholstery
CLOTH. Should be brushed the way of the nap. Upholstery covers should be removed periodically and brushed, and cushions lightly beaten. Corners and pockets and recesses should be thoroughly brushed as a precaution against moth. A Vacuum Cleaner can be used to advantage on Head Linings, etc.

LEATHER. Should not be washed. It can be kept clean by an occasional wipe over with a damp (not wet) cloth. If necessary, a little neutral soap — such as curd or toilet soap — may be used. A specially prepared hide food for occasional use known as “Connolly’s” Hide Food can be used to improve the leather.

When Coachbuilt body door hinges are fitted with grease nipples these should be lubricated occasionally by means of the grease gun and the surplus lubricant must be removed.

Standard Steel body door hinges should not be lubricated as the hinges incorporate Oilite brushed and stainless steel hingepins, in fact the application of extra lubrication is likely to result in damage by causing dust to adhere to the working parts.

All door catches and striker plates should be wiped clean occasionally, and a small quantity of grease applied to the faces of the groove in the striker plate, removing surplus grease after application.

Chromium Plating
Atmospheric deposit can be removed by using one of many chrome cleaners on the market or Belco No. 7. (Metal Polishes must not be used.)

Removing Tar
Tar may be removed by the use of the proprietary solutions available, or by rubbing with a soft cloth moistened with a mixture of equal parts of Naptha and white spirit. (Turpentine substitute.)

White Sidewall Tyres
When yellowing of white sidewall tyres occurs the colour can be restored by using one of the proprietary brands of whitewall tyre cleaner. Brillo soap pads or other soap impregnated wire wool pads are convenient for quick whitewall cleansing whilst the car is being washed.

Car Mats
All mats should be removed weekly and given a good beating and brushing. Do not brush mats inside the car as this allows dust to accumulate on the trimming.

Instrument Panel and Window Fillets
These should be polished occasionally with wax polish, if they have a polished finish, otherwise it is sufficient to leather them off whenever the car is being washed.

  • Dry clean the Paintwork
  • Allow Anti-Freeze mixtures to get on paintwork
  • Dry clean Stainless Steel Radiator shells
  • Run engine unnecessarily in the garage.
  • Park the car under Lime trees when in blossom.
  • Leave windows open when leaving the car, especially in showery weather.


  1. Hello Mark, What great memories of being driven in the classic Rolls and Bentley cars. My father had a friend who collected antique cars and would give us rides in them. Despite all the jokes you see in old books, we loved to ride in the rumble seats!

    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Dear Jim,

      The visits from John were in the 1950s and 1960s, and even then he was driving classics, so you can imagine that the vehicles were absolutely gorgeous. A ride in them always elicited stares and pointing fingers, and made one feel like a celebrity. John's visits would come to an end too quickly, and I'd come back down to Earth, but they're still happy memories.

  2. 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Dear Mark - I don't think that I shall be requiring the services of a chauffeur, but some of the cleaning tips are really quite useful even today.
    Rolls-Royce are located in Derby, and so they loom very large in my family. My father and my uncle both worked for Rolls-Royce, but on the aero engine side.
    H and I always had VW beetles too when we first started buying cars.

    1. Isn't that interesting — the Breguet side of my family was involved with aero engines as well!

      I've always been impressed with the high standards of Rolls-Royce. I remember seeing a documentary on the company that mentioned that, should there be an accident with the wood dashboard, the company would replace it with wood from the original plank.

      All that said, my own favorite car was my first VW Beetle, forest green with a white interior and a sunroof.

  3. Dear Mark, I know how you felt. While living in East Germany Mormon Missionaries came to visit our family. The large Cadillac Limousine driving on cobblestones streets was talked about for decades. My sister and I were invited to ride to the next village. We didn't mind the long walk back.
    And, by the way, my first two cars were Volkswagen Beetles.

    1. Dear Gina,

      My first three cars were Beetles. I traded the first one for the second Beetle, and said that I'd drive it until its floor fell out. So guess what happened? The floor rusted through and fell out! For several years, I drove a Beetle with a plywood floor! I've owned seven cars in 45 years and driven each of them over 100,000 miles.

  4. Who knew about the lime trees? It was a very interesting read Mark. I am afraid, those days are pretty much gone now. (and all of my cars have gone well over 100,000 miles as well)

    1. Dear Theresa,

      I don't know about you, but I've never figured out why car companies (and luxury ones particularly) let their car designs evolve so that they all look like they came from the same manufacturer. The cars I grew up with all had very distinctive looks and I would even say, personalities.

  5. haha -now we know! Now I just need a Rolls

    1. Stefan, I think you and a Rolls-Royce would be a very good fit!

  6. So handy! Mark, I am bookmarking this post because I'll be getting a Rolls very soon. As well as a mansion in Palm Beach :) Loi

    1. Please let me know when you are in the market for that Palm Beach mansion. I'd love to take you on a tour of houses designed by Addison Mizner. I think they'd complement your style.

  7. Dear Mark,
    I loved reading this post. I find these sorts of things very interesting and very entertaining.
    My 1912 Book of Etiquette states that the chauffeur generally takes his meals with the indoor servants (but) some hosts will not take him in at all, and he id relegated to the inn at hid Master's expense; it is now very unusual for him to have a separate table at a country house'

    Now you an Rosemary and I have something in common, as my own grandfather was an aeronautical engineer. For a while he was engineer to Amy Johnson and used to follow her in a car when she was racing (within England) so that he could be on hand if she landed because of engine trouble.

    1. Dear Kirk,

      That's so interesting about your grandfather — you know they still follow gliders in cars like that. I'm sure your grandfather lived to see much change.

      It might be fun to do a few postings on old etiquette. I know that my grandmother remembered which corner of a calling card to fold, given different circumstances. Recently, younger aquaintances of mine found it quirky that I sent them a handwritten thank you note. They interpreted the note as a witty gesture and mentioned that they appreciated the "old school" thanks. Soooo, it might soon be that any etiquette book you own will be a novelty!

    2. Etiquette posts - I'm going to think about that as I agree with you - it could be a good idea, or even a 'meme', if I understand how those things work correctly!

  8. I love this, Mark! When I win the Lottery (Ha!) I plan on hiring a chauffeur to drive me around - if not necessarily in a Rolls - so I'm keeping these instructions handy. :)

    I once rode down Fifth Avenue in a 1930's Rolls. The details shall remain a mystery. But it was a blast.

    1. Dear Yvette,

      Wouldn't it be a great world if everything was so well designed that their use would elicit the same thrill as a 1930's Rolls-Royce! Now I wonder whether you might have been driving down 5th Avenue with David Ogilvy? Or were you on your way to the Mandarin Room?

  9. Mark,
    I really enjoyed reading this. I was reminded of George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior which I've long wished could be updated to include today's technology.

    1. Steve, don't get me started on civility and today's technology! I rant often enough, to little avail.

  10. I've never driven a Rolls, although I've sat in several being driven, (usually in the back), but even in the front when there was no chauffeur, and its owner was doing the driving. But one day I must rectify that shortcoming, although by choice if I was buying I think I would prefer a Bentley nowadays, since RR Motorcars are now no longer owned by the Brits. So the chauffeur's manual would be a bit redundant, but it is fun to read this. Light on the technical aspects of driving!

    1. Dear Columnist,

      You're right about this little booklet being light on technical details. While it was issued under the Rolls-Royce name, I don't know whether it was actually printed by a motor club. I do note that the spelling and recommended products are British, though.