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Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Published: 17th Feb 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
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At its peak, the Silver Shadow was rightly hailed as the best car in the world. And this Rolls, which told the whole world that you had made it, still takes some beating…

WHY IT’S A WINNER

In its day, the Silver Shadow was without question the best car in the world and arguably the last of the real Rolls-Royces dispatched from Crewe. Now this magnificent and majestic saloon is highly affordable to buy and run plus smacks of sheer good ‘old money’ taste – unlike some of the modern Rollers and Bentleys.

HISTORY

1965 Announced although deliveries didn’t start until the following spring. Unlike any Rolls before, the Shadow featured a monocoque body and no separate chassis and was the most technically advanced production car in the world. Regrilled Bentley T-Series launched soon after. 1967 After a bespoke two-door coupé was launched in 1966 a convertible followed in September ‘67 with a power hood. 1970 The most important milestones this year were the introduction of the larger 6750cc engine along with a new threespeed gearbox taken from American General Motors.

1971 The two door range was rebranded as Corniche, with a revised, somewhat sleeker look. A smaller steering wheel with altered gearing is fitted while the engine’s power is upped slightly by fitting a superior four barrel carburettor.

1972 Radial tyres are adopted and the chassis is retuned to suit the grippier tyres. 1977 Silver Shadow II launched for 1977; chief improvements included rack and pinion steering, new dual zone automatic air conditioning along with a superior dash and new, US style rubber bumpers. In February 1977, the Corniche was similarly revised. 1979 Final change was to mirror the Shadow’s replacement, the Silver Spirit/ Bentley Mulsanne, receiving that car’s new rear suspension and a hydraulic’s system now using mineral oil.

1989 Corniche III has active suspension, ABS and fuel injection) and IV in 1992. The final run of 25 cars was designated Corniche S in 1995 and featured the Mulsanne’s turbocharged engine.

DRIVING

To be honest, the real satisfaction comes from owning one of these cars rather than driving one. The early cars are somewhat wallowy and below the standard of the later, post-1976 cars where rack and pinion steering and other chassis mods sharpened up the handling. That said, even these ones can be quite a handful on a challenging road and best driven with dignity and decorum.

All pound the tarmac with impressive silence and serenity, but it’s an old design and a Jaguar XJ6 actually does it better. The real satisfaction comes from just wafting rather than tearing around in one, and the creamy cruising capabilities a good Shadow (or Bentley T) provides is still hard to match, almost half a century on. Only Corniches with their added power (turbocharged on the last of the line cars) have performance that can be called quick but no one really charges around in a Roller because things glide uphill you know!

BEST MODELS

All have their own following, but we’d seek out a Shadow II as these are friendlier to drive in modern traffic. If you must have a chrome bumper model, avoid pre-1969 models as they had a poor four-speed gearbox and were never set up to run on radials, which many now ride on. Shadow II best driver but some Rolls-Royce experts claim that late 1976 cars are most wanted.

PRICES

These cars used to be picked up cheaply about a decade ago but now values are rising for really good ones boasting a proper service history. Yes, you still see them for Mondeo money (and there’s been a fair few at auctions recently) but they will be tired and need lots of money to make them reasonable. A restoration is possible but hardly economic and these remain complex machines to work on for the untrained. A pristine early Shadow of 1976 vintage is more than £15,000 in today’s market. And you can add another ten grand for Corniches, where the last of the line models cost between £60-£100K plus, Bentley or Rolls? It appears that the prices are pretty similar for the saloons as condition counts the most. By employing the services of a good specialist, owning one is not that much dearer than running a Jaguar XJ or a big Yank.

VERDICT

The Shadow is the last of the real Rolls- Royces, which is why they are still well loved. Full of culture and class (especially the Corniches) they are fine value for money and certainly not over dear for what was once the best car in the World.

FIVE TOP FAULTS

1. CONDITION Don’t buy the first you see. There are many tarted up cars around that look good but aren’t. Get help from owners clubs or a specialist if unsure. Watch for converted Bentleys as they were cheaper

2. BODY Don’t fall for the old two-tone spray dodge as it can hide horror stories. Similarly, ‘over rugs’ can mask a manky interior

3. RUST Sills, arches, floor pan are the main worries. Lift the carpets in the front to check for damp damage

4. ENGINE Manifold gasket failure, oil sludging and lack of use are main woes

5. HYDRAULICS Hydraulic service at 90,000 miles will set you back £2000 but must be done for safety’s sake – yet many skip this



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