top of page

Starting Procedure For the Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost

How to Start the (post 1919) Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost:

  1. Turn ‘On’ Master Battery Switch ‘key’ if fitted.

  2. Turn ‘On’ Fuel Tap located on right side of chassis rail (below driver’s door).  If it is stiff, pull the lever out towards you to release it.

  3. Turn the Fuel Control Lever from ‘Release’ (top) to either ‘Both Pumps’ (bottom) or ‘Hand Pump’ (right).  Located on the left side chassis rail (below front of passenger door).

  4. Pump the Hand Pump Plunger (located on dashboard) until the fuel pressure gauge reads between 1 to 1.5 psi.

  5. Turn the Flying Lady Mascot sideways and open the right-side hood (bonnet) and press the Carburettor Fuel Primer button (top of float chamber) down until fuel comes through and/or you can wedge a coin under the carburettor Slow Speed Jet (just to the right) which acts like a choke.

  6. Inside car, remove the Clutch Stick (see Notes).

  7. Turn the 4 position knob in the centre of the steering wheel to M & B (Magneto and Battery) ignition.

  8. Move the right-hand Ignition Spark Lever on steering wheel, all the way down to ‘Late’ (bottom).

  9. Push Carburettor Lever, top of steering wheel, all the way to right (Strong).

  10. Push the Speed Governor, left-hand lever on steering wheel, all the way to bottom and then up a quarter way.

  11. Turn the Priming/Running Lever, on bulkhead (or dashboard) to Priming (left).

  12. Pump the Hand Pump Plunger another 3 or 4 times.

  13. Turn the Priming/Running Lever to Run (right).

  14. Press the Starter Button on bulkhead (or floor) with your left foot.

  15. If the Battery amps/volts are low and it won’t turn over the engine, you will need to go to front of car and use cranking handle.

  16. But ‘first’ turn the 4 position knob in the centre of the steering wheel to B (Battery) ignition.  It is important ‘not’ to engage the Magneto.

  17. Turn over the engine twice ‘gently’ in order to prime one or two cylinders.  Using the arm you can most do without, lift the handle upwards ‘smartly’ using 4 fingers, but do not push down and do not grip tightly or it may come back and break your arm!

  18. When the engine starts, remove coin from carburettor (if used).

  19. Turn the 4 position knob in the centre of the steering wheel to M & B (Magneto and Battery) ignition.

  20. Move the Ignition Spark Lever half-way upwards towards ‘Early’ (around town) and fully over to ‘Early’ when cruising (on open road).

  21. Push Carburettor Lever, top of steering wheel, left towards ‘Weak’ and keep pushing it over as the engine warms up until it’s alongside the arrow mark.

  22. Push Speed Governor, left-hand lever on steering wheel fully, down and then immediately upwards until the engine runs smoothly.

  23. Select First (if facing uphill) or Second gear and drive away


How to Switch Off:

  1. Move the Speed Governor Lever fully down to bottom and simultaneously turn the 4 position knob in centre of steering wheel to ‘0’.

  2. Turn Fuel Control Lever to Release (up).

  3. Switch ‘off’ Master Battery Switch, if fitted.

  4. Turn ‘Off’ Fuel Tap located on right side of chassis rail (below driver’s door).

  5. Put Clutch Stick back into position.

  6. Set Handbrake ‘on’

  7. Turn front wheels hard over towards the kerb side of road.



When you are pumping the hand pump, it will take a long time to get up to 1 pound of pressure when the fuel tank is low on fuel, but only two or three pumps when the tank is full.  If you are pumping and it feels like there is resistance, you have not moved the Fuel Control Lever from ‘Release’ to ‘Both Pumps’.  If the pump appears not to develop pressure on the gauge, move the Fuel Control Lever to ‘Hand Pump’ and then to ‘Both Pumps’ when pressure is restored.

The Clutch Stick is a short wooden stick that is used to hold the clutch pedal fully in. The clutch has oil impregnated liners, oil gets squeezed out if left engaged (up) and parked for a long period of time. The stick goes between the pedal and a round nut on the steering column.  The downside to forgetting to set the stick this is the clutch squeaks and judders. Squirt some engine oil or ATF on the Clutch and it and it will be fine.

Always turn the Master Battery switch ‘off’ if fitted when you leave the car.

One last thing, the clutch pedal has to be ‘out’ to turn the engine. If you forget to take the Clutch Stick out, the starter will turn the transmission only. Always make sure the car is in neutral.

Park Safely:

If you find that you ‘must’ park your car on a steep hill, then turn the front wheels right over pointing into the kerb side of the road, set the handbrake on firmly and leave the transmission in first gear with the clutch pedal out (not setting the Clutch Stick).  You may get a squealing from the clutch upon starting, but your car will stay where you parked it!  Once you have oiled the clutch lightly all will be fine.


A Vintage Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is without doubt the finest motorcar of its time, however it does have a few shortcomings when compared to a more modern Rolls-Royce car.


The car has four gears but no synchromesh and so for the novice driver it will be difficult at first to change gear smoothly.  You will learn the art of ‘double -de-clutching’.   Unless you are facing up-hill, start off in 2nd gear.  Speed up the engine to say 1000 rpm and push the clutch pedal fully down, then change into neutral, then let then clutch pedal fully up. Push the pedal down just over half-way and change gear and then let the clutch up smartly.  This process should not be rushed and repeated to move up through the gears.  You should aim to be in top gear before the car is travelling at 20mph.  Do not try to rev-up the engine through the gears. A correctly adjusted Silver Ghost will drive all day in top gear from 10mph to it a comfortable 50mph. Gear changing is a leisurely process and requires no haste.  Many owners use only 2nd and 4th gears.


Changing down is a little more difficult and many drivers stay in the most suitable cruising gear until they need to slow down and stop.  However, to change down on the move you will need to rev-up the engine, clutch down and change into neutral and then let the clutch pedal fully up, then press clutch down just over half-way and change to a lower gear. This takes some practice!


Up until 1924 Ghosts have ‘no’ front brakes, so keep your distance, especially if following another Ghost and stop on the crest of hills, select a low gear, use engine braking and use the handbrake along with the foot brake.  

bottom of page