Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Buyers Guide

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Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow standard saloonWhen buying a Shadow it is important to decide what image you want to project. Avoid wedding car white examples with gold Flying Ladies and cheap private plates unless you want to be mistaken for Bernard Manning. Gunmetal or maroon always lends the shape some added dignity especially if combined with some white-on-black plates for full ‘old money’ effect. Pundits said the silver Shadow was too square and boxy to be a proper Rolls-Royce when it appeared in 1965 but it went on to be one of the most enduring of all luxury saloons, produced until 1980. At 34 years old, it now seems as dignified a patrician as any of its ancestors. By Crewe standards, the new car – also available as the T-series Bentley – was an orgy of innovation: here for the first time on a Rolls were monocoque construction, independent rear suspension and disc brakes – at one swoop silencing critics who said RR was behind the times. This was a new kind of Rolls-Royce for the tycoon who liked to drive himself, although the interior with its fine veneers, armchair seats ad impeccable detail was a luxurious as ever. A Shadow II version appeared in 1977, with vulgar rubber-faced bumpers and a chin spoiler, but for the purpose of this buyers guide we will concentrate on the chrome bumpered original. This was a silent gentle-natured car which, in its earliest form, drove like a greased blancmange in deference to US tastes. But these early cars(pre-’69) had the nicest innards of all – the pre Federal deep dash unencumbered by crash padding. 1977 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow IIGradually driver appeal increased with the change over to radials, compliant suspension and quicker – but still super light – steering. There was a better three-speed auto transmission to replace the old four-speed in ’69 and a 6.7-litre V8 supplanted the original 6.3 in 1972. But even then the 115mph Shadow was swift rather than fast, wafting along on a huge rush of torque. The owner-driver appeal of the Shadow invited unflattering comparisons with less expensive status symbols but while any XJ12 was quieter, and any V8 Mercedes quicker, neither had the soothing qualities of the Shadow with its smooth-acting controls and beautifully wrought cabin. Travelling in a Shadow was always more of an event than in other luxury cars. Body/Chassis: Check the sills (inner and outer), the valances and the areas behind the wheelarches. The front is especially vulnerable to stone chips, while rust can begin behind the clips that hold the sill trims in place. On the alloy door, bonnet and boot panels rot can begin around the door handles and brought trim. You may find cracks in the lead-filled screen bases although this is largely cosmetic. Chrome is generally good but the rear quarter bumpers can suffer. Underneath, the main areas to watch are the rear spring pans in the actual trailing arms: if they have corroded through they need to be replaced for the MoT. On the bad cars, the front floor wells can rust through too. Interior Obviously you want to see supple, splint-free leather (a few Shadows had cloth Parkertex seats, which aren’t very saleable). What you don’t want is leather that has been over-Connollised and is biscuit-dry. Early cars didn’t have headrests but if you find them they are desirable, as are lambswool over-rugs. Headlining was PVC with leather as an option. The wood on the door capping can suffer as the lacquer peels, the metal seat belt clips can damage the leather on the seats over the years. Check the front carpets for dampness – the screen rubber could be leaking. Check the motorised air conditioning flaps under the dash, which can become detached from their servo motors and blow cold air on to your feet. Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow IRunning Gear The biggest problem with a Silver Shadow is its braking system, particularly on cars that are little used. The light on the dash should go out quickly and there should be no vibrations through the pedal. They can suffer from brake seizure – not an ideal prospect in such a weighty machine. Engines are virtually indestructible but can suffer from head gasket problems. The hydraulic tappets aren’t always very quiet even when warm. Gearboxes are strong and reasonably cheap to service, but check for whines form the differential. Examine the shock absorbers, they can leak and rattle. A full service history, preferably fro cognised Rolls garages, is vital of course. What are its strengths? Since smoothness and a surprising turn of speed. A Shadow leaves its driver - and passengers - totally relaxed and pampered after a long journey, in fact, every journey in the Shadow seems like an event. Then there's the intrinsic quality of the car: not just the superficial gloss of the wood or thickness of the carpets but the way everything - even in the most obscure and rarely looked - at corners- is so well finished And its weaknesses? Image. Rolls' owners are used to the jealous stares and sneers of other motorists. That famous bonnet badge still brings out the worst in people - even if they paid rather more for their Scorpio. On the road, soggy handling and a lack of feel in the feather-light steering are either irritating or endearing depending on your disposition. Expect to pay royally for servicing and repairs. And when putting the petrol in. What's it heritage? I'll spare you the complete history lesson. Suffice to say that Rolls-Royce earned an unrivalled reputation for quality - if not ground breaking design - and reliability from the Edwardian era onwards, most famously with the 40/50hp Silver Ghost. The Silver Dawn of the immediate post-war years, with its fixed-head straight six engine and rather austere up-right styling, was the first Rolls-Royce to have standard factory suppiled bodywork. The Shadow was only the third new Rolls-Royce since the end of the war, with only its all-alloy V8 engine carried over from the Silver Cloud ll and lll. Which is the best version? For most people the last ' flared arch' Shadow Mkls that came in from the 1973 are the best, combining the bigger 6.7-litre engine and GM400 transmission with wider rubber (hence the flared arches) and bigger brakes. Having said that, the early cars with their more traditionally interiors (much less crash passing on the dash) have their followers. To be honest, there's not much to it. Is it practical? If you find a good car with good history and have it regularly maintained by a good specialist then there is no reason why a Silver Shadow shouldn't be a practical proposition. Those brakes are the thing most likely to give you problems but using the car regularly is probably the best preventative maintenance - so many Shadows simply suffer from a lack of use. They will also tolerate quite a lot of abuse, which is why there are so many bodged-up Shadows. Which bits are most costly? It's unlikely the engine will fail, unless you run it out of oi or water. it's easy to spend £3-4000 getting the brakes up to scratch with discs, callipers, pads and accumulators. A noisy differential is an expensive lump to replace, too- around £2000. Major body restoration is expensive in terms of man-hours on any car, although panels from specialist Rolls breakers are surprisingly affordable. Rolls Royce Silver ShadowAre there ways to improve these cars? The main thing owners do is fit one of Harvey-Bailey's handling kits, which improves the handling beyond recognition without sacrificing the ride quality. If you are running an early car on crossplys then fitting radials is always a good idea in the interests of adhesion and improved rates of wear - the Shadow goes through tyres quickly at the best of times, particularly town-driven examples. Who should I contact? Probably not your local Rolls-Royce dealer who will charge you £60 an hour and like as not recommend you replace large sections of the running gear at the first service. You can't apply modern car standards to a 30-year-old classic. Royce Motor Services, Gloucestershire, supplied the information for this guide and do top quality work. RR and B Garages at Bromsgrove, Worcs work on the cars, as do Wristes of Northampton. In London, the Chelsea Workshop is one of the better-known specialists as is Frank Dale and Stepsons. How hard are they to find? There are usually half of a dozen in Classic Cars, although it might be a good idea to join the RREC and check its Members' Cars For Sale section. What image does it convey? Hmm. Be Careful here. Prices are low and the rough ones have tended to drag the image of the good ones down a bit. You want to look sharp in your Shadow without appearing to be a git - difficult one this, so make sure you go for the right colours ( no wedding car white) and the right details (no cheap private plates or gold Flying Ladies. A Shadow will always make a statement, so you don't buy one if you want to blend into the crowd.Tags: