1964 Rolls-Royce from Modesto claims prize at peninsula concours

bclark@modbee.comJuly 28, 2013 

    alternate textBrian Clark
    Title: Senior Editor, Digital
    Coverage areas: Breaking news
    Bio: A Berkeley native, Brian graduated from San Diego State University in 1986. His newspaper stops included 18-month stints at the Turlock Journal and The Las Vegas Review-Journal before accepting a job in Modesto in 1990. While at The Bee, he's worked as a sports and news copy editor, sports editor and weekend news editor before joining the online team in 2008.
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Modesto's Rick Scarano is used to the honking horns, the smiles, the waves and the people driving alongside his car snapping photos.

Still, it's a little nerve-wracking when you're behind the wheel of a pristine 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III.

"I get freaked out driving it," he said. "I'm scared someone, as they're looking at it or taking pictures, is going to run into it."

Last week, all went well on his round trip to the Bay Area.

His Rolls won the applause of his fellow drivers and then the judges at the 2013 Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance at Crystal Springs Golf Course, just south of San Francisco.

The car he spent a few years rebuilding in the late 1980s won first place in the Class RB Rolls-Royce/Bentley Post War Division, beating a 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I and a 1954 Bentley R Type.

"I was astonished, real surprised," he said. "They said, 'That's the best car we've ever seen.' "

In its 57th year, the Hillsborough event honors and celebrates "excellence in automotive design and engineering." Among the list of divisions is everything from "imported sports cars through 1962" and "muscle and pony cars" to "Aston Martin 1946-1986."

Scarano won a crystal bowl, but the real prize, he said, was "the prestige of winning at Hillsborough."

A self-employed car broker, Scarano, 58, said he purchased the Silver Cloud III for $35,000 in 1978 from someone in Washington. About nine years later, he began restoring it from top to bottom and inside and out.

He said the vehicle was in running shape but was in desperate need of a face-lift. He stripped it down, took out the interior and went to work. Nothing was safe, including the carpet, leather, wood and chrome. He replaced nearly everything down to the nuts and bolts, completing the roughly two-year project in 1989.

Since then, he's driven it on occasion around Modesto and entered it in a few car shows. Mostly, it remains covered in his garage.

There were a little more than 2,000 of the Silver Cloud IIIs built. On its website, Hagerty, the self-

described worldwide leader in collector car insurance, says "the Silver Cloud III is often regarded as the finest model of the series."

Scarano said he's owned 15 Rolls-Royces, but the spacious and stylish Silver Cloud III, with its trademark dual headlights, always captured his fancy.

How does it drive compared with his everyday vehicles — a Toyota Avalon and a pickup? "It's just a big luxury car," he said. "Everything in it is smooth. It'll go 120 mph ... I've had it there ... and it handles real good."

To win at Hillsborough, or any other Concours d'Elegance event, all vehicles must be in working order and look as if they've come straight from the factory, Scarano said.

The Rolls he estimates pouring $100,000 into was nearly perfect, save for a clock that didn't work. "The (judges) thought it was a fresh restoration, not one from 25 years ago," he said.

Scarano values his car at about $100,000, guessing that there are very few "left-hand drives" available in pristine condition. A cursory look on various websites showed some Silver Cloud IIIs, in varying condition, selling for anywhere from $30,000 to $75,000.

Scarano said he had a few inquiries at Hillsborough but isn't sure he'd sell if an offer came along.

"I've just always liked that car," he said.

So, too, do his fellow drivers and judges.

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