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Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Vs Jaguar Mk X

The good life on a Fiesta budget Published: 7th Nov 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

What The Experts Say...

Paul Brightman of Rolls and Bentley specialist Rolls Service and Engineering (01737 844999) naturally steers towards the Crewe products but does admit the Jaguar is a fi ne alternative. He says that the last of the S1/T1s from 1976 (known as the wide arch cars) are the best of the breed and like every other R-R specialist warns against buying a cheapie; you need around £14,000 to purchase a well cared for Shadow that will give much pleasure not pain.

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Ten grand just about buys you the most basic supermini these days, but it can also get you the best car in the world… second-hand, of course. When launched back in ‘65, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was hailed as the best in the business. Rightly so?

Well, as was fast becoming its trademark, Jaguar was producing what some thought was an equally good limousine but almost two-thirds cheaper! The MkX remains a Jaguar bargain, where five fi gures will get you a very nice example indeed. Of course nobody is suggesting that you should buy one instead of that brand-new, fast depreciating basic family hatchback, for the school run. But, by purchasing a good secondhand Focus for £3000 and pocketing the rest, you could have the best of both worlds. Tempted?

Which model to buy?

Coventry vs. Crewe = score draw

Both cars were a turning point for their respective makers, insofar as they dumped the old separate chassis in favour of a monocoque construction. And their styling was a world away from their maker’s previous stately saloons. The Jaguar looked by far the most swish - well it was aimed at the American market, after all, but Rolls really went all modern with the Shadow, too, and it has always looked less brash than the Jaguar MkX.

Inside, yes the Rolls exudes more luxury and comfort but there’s not much in it, as anybody who has sat in both will testify. Of course, to justify its much higher price, the Shadow boasted electrical power to the windows and seats whereas the Jag chap usually had to employ manual labour. Power steering was always fi tted to the Rolls (plus Citroenderived hydraulics for the brakes) On MkXs Jaguar introduced the novel variable rate PAS on the superior 4.2 model which became heavier at higher speed.

If you have a dislike for automatics then the Jaguar had the option of a fourspeed and overdrive, although the majority are, like the Shadow, self-shifting. The Jaguar enjoys a more sporting character thanks to its iconic XK twin cam engine in E-type tune, (4.2-litre for ‘64) against the Shadow’s long-lived, lazier larger V8.

Jaguar carried out little in the way of development to the MkX, or the later 420G, before it bowed out by 1970, but Rolls had already carried out the first of many upgrades by then. The most significant upgrade being the greatly improved Shadow/T2 of 1977 which boasted a revised front suspension, which further included rack and pinion steering. If you can opt for this version, it’s the better choice for enthusiast drivers, as it makes the Shadow feel far more modern and precise, although purists are now leaning towards the earlier models due to their neater styling.


What's the best to drive?

Purr or hush?

Really these cars are more about cruising than racing around in – but if you want some vestige of sportiness the Jag is the one to go for, even if the Roller is slightly faster due to its engine capacity advantage. With its E-type running gear (including its famed IRS) the MkX was no sports car, yet was still one of the best handling saloons for its size and weight – if no match for the later XJ6. The Rolls is more serene and doesn’t like to be hustled as much, especially pre ‘72 cars.

The Shadow was renowned for its silky ride but the MkX virtually matched it. In fact, this cat rides and handles almost as well as an XJ6, and that was regarded as the best of the best for many decades!

In the end, the final choice comes down to the car’s character. The Shadow is the most dignifi ed, the Jag the jazzier, snazzier option. There’s always a sense of occasion then travelling in any Jaguar – but it can’t match the Rolls, no way, no how.


Owning and running

Rolls easier – and perhaps cheaper!

With a fuel return of well under 20mpg, even on a good day, and perhaps less than 10mpg on a bad one, none of these cars will be Ford-cheap to run! Thanks to its simpler make up, the Jaguar is the easier car for the DIY bod to maintain at home, as well as restore, because Shadows are complex animals, especially the electrics and hydraulics.

However, the Rolls counters this by having a better spares base. There’s no shortage of bits for the Crewe car and even the factory will oblige if you have deep pockets. But, at the other end of the financial spectrum, there are numerous Rolls specialist breakers which keep the costs down considerably.

You can’t ignore the fact that the Rolls is in another league in terms of build quality and craftsmanship. One of the reasons the MkX – like all Jags – represented such fantastic value back in the 1960s was due to costcutting and penny pinching in the areas you didn’t see… But discovered in service.

Mechanically the MkX shares the majority of mechanicals from the Mk2, S-Type and the E-type, so no problems here. The MkX also formed the basis of the Daimler DS limo and this remained in service until 1992, but, apart from the front end, few parts are interchangeable, so general MkX body and trim parts are rare and expensive fi nds. Tyres are another bane of contention and while XJ6 rims fit as well as E-type wheels, Chevrolet tyres are popular alternatives. An S3 E-type rear axle gears the car up nicely too.


And The Winner Is...

If this was a new car test conducted in the 1960s, then the MkX would win, thanks to its Rolls-matching qualities but at a third of the cost. As a classic it’s different as their values are now fairly evenly matched and, if anything, a top MkX can be valued higher than the Shadow. If you want something different then the Jag is the one to pick – it’s a vastly underrated and pleasing cruising classic. But, in terms of an aspirational purchase, then the Rolls still wins by a countr y (seat) mile. And the reason? Well, most people dream of owning a Roller one day – don’t they?

Classic Motoring

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