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    Buying Guide Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow/Bentley T-series

    Posted in Cars on Tuesday, 24 December 2019

    Six steps to buying a Rolls Silver Shadow The Shadow and its Bentley brother offer hand-built opulence and supreme wafting. Words Richard Dredge. Photography John Colley.

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    CAR: #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Shadow-LWB / #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Shadow / #Rolls-Royce /

    Name Paul Capper
    Age 46
    From Winchester
    Occupation Funeral director
    First classic 1977 Jaguar XJ6
    Dream classic R-R Phantom VI
    State Laundaulette or a Corniche Convertible
    Daily driver Bentley Mulsanne
    Favourite driving song Mascara Negra (from Crewe-supplied 8-Track tester tape)
    Best drive Bilbao to Alicante in a day

    NELLIE, QUEEN OF THE TRUNK ROAD

    Anyone who knows me will readily confirm that I have been a Rolls- Royce and Bentley enthusiast all of my life. Growing up in the 1970s when the Silver Shadow and its derivatives were at their height, and from the first Matchbox models, I was hooked. I bought my ’1975 Silver Shadow in 1997 and, while the car was attractive from a distance, she was a million miles away from her current condition. I say ‘she’ because the Shadow is known affectionately as ‘Nellie’ throughout the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club and the Gay Classic Car Group.

    When I was about to embark on the purchase, I remember a wise old club member advising me that, once all of the rough white Shadows had gone and been broken for spares, the good cars that were left would rapidly rise in value. Well, 16 years on, the prices of the best ones are definitely on the increase.

    My interest in Nellie was further enhanced because she is one of the rarer Long Wheelbase versions built without a central division, but extended 4in from the B-post.

    An LWB option was intended from launch, but the pressure of preparing the standard saloons for the Paris Salon launch in 1965 – as well as developing the two-door models – meant that any stretched variants were delayed longer than had been anticipated. It wasn’t until the spring of ’1969 that production of Long Wheelbase models began.

    A pilot batch of 10 cars was made during 1966/’1967, however, including one built specially for HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. This particular example had several styling touches to suit the princess. It was finished in dark green with bespoke matching hide and pale green carpets.

    Now 4in may not sound like that much, although it did provide a notable increase in space in the rear. Once the floorpan and sills were cut, the body received longer rear doors and roof panel, which was always covered with Everflex vinyl that some say was to hide the join, while a smaller back window gave an extra measure of privacy. An electric glass division was all well and good in the Phantom V and VI state limos of the day, but it was of little use in the Long Wheelbase Silver Shadow – and would have stolen any extra rear room.

    When Nellie came into my possession she had a mere 65,000 miles on the clock, but was riddled with rust in the wings, peppered with cigarette burns in the woodwork and had a tired-looking cabin.

    Now, 53,000 miles later, the car has been fully restored to day-one showroom glory. It recently landed three top awards – including First in Class and First in Elegance, plus The Dr Shu Shahid Memorial Trophy for Best Silver Shadow – at The RREC Concours d’Elegance at Rockingham Castle, Northants.

    The Shadow is ideal for continental touring. It has been driven extensively through France and behaved faultlessly on a run from Bilbao to Alicante in 12 leisurely hours. Driving her in a straight line at speed is truly wonderful. Having said that, bends and roundabouts – if not negotiated properly, as a jaunt around the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans vividly proved – can make your journey feel more like The Poseidon Adventure. And you expect Shelley Winters to float past your window at any minute!

    Nellie was pressed into service and looked her very best when she regally conveyed my 92-year-old grandmother – along with my then partner’s 90-year-old grannie – to Windsor Castle as part of a display For HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th-birthday celebrations, on an event organised by the RREC.

    All in all, if you ever get the chance to own a Silver Shadow, go for it. If you get the right car, it will give you many hours of motoring enjoyment and is just like driving your favourite armchair. And, as with any prospective car purchase, shop around, buy the best that you can afford – and attend one of the RREC’s technical seminars on how to look after them properly.

    Clockwise: cheeky photo at Buckingham Palace; in Alicante; Cathedral of Murcia; parade for Prince Philip’s 90th-birthday do; gongs galore at concours.

    ‘The Shadow behaved faultlessly on a glorious run from Bilbao to Alicante in 12 leisurely hours’
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    CAR R-R Silver Shadow II / #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Shadow-II / #Rolls-Royce / #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Shadow

    Name John Leighton Age 56
    Occupation Consultant
    First classic This one Dream classic This one, too
    Daily driver Mercedes-Benz E-class convertible
    Best trip Any journey in the R-R except the one to France!

    FOR THE LOVE OF A FLYING LADY

    Little could I have known what lay in store when a friend asked if I’d like to go to the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club meeting at Harewood House in 2014. I was immediately captivated and, inexplicably, was drawn in particular to the Silver Shadows, of which there were quite a few. Then, the penny dropped. In the early 1980s I worked for Heron Motor Group in Newcastle, and at that time the Shadow II was Rolls-Royce’s current model. I decided that my first classic should be one. After all, I reasoned, interest rates are so poor right now, why not have the best car in the world.

    What could possibly go wrong? From my younger days, I knew a technician, Alan Fearon, who had been my contemporary at Heron and who now had a garage locally. I asked whether he would be happy to look after a Shadow for me, and when he reassured me that he could easily take care of a 35 year old (the car, not me) I began searching for the Rolls-Royce of my dreams.

    I found one in Northampton with reasonable service history and good provenance. Spookily, it was identical to a car that had languished for months in the Heron showroom while I was working there, and I soon discovered more coincidences. It had originally been sold by Heron’s Halesowen dealership within a couple of days of my 21st birthday. It was clearly a sign that we were meant to be together. Once I got it home, I arranged with Alan – who was about to become my ‘new best friend’ – to give the car the once-over. After a few days, during which time he replaced the ignition system and some suspension parts, she was ready for the road. Then followed a period of really getting to know her.


    ‘Given the complexity of the Shadow, the first weeks were spent worrying that something might go wrong’

    Given the infamous complexity of the Shadow, the first weeks were spent sitting on the edge of the seat, worrying that something might go wrong. But summer went without a hitch, and soon autumn arrived.

    Alan worked his magic once again, preparing the car for the winter. Jobs included various fluid changes, leaks addressed, new hoses, antifreeze, a carburettor overhaul and handbrake pads. Oh yes, and a good dose of Waxoyl. And so to bed, metaphorically, for the winter, with the occasional run on dry days to keep things moving. In the spring it was time to hit the road again, but not before hitting the workshop for further repairs. This time it was to replace the water pump and overcome the new problem of the brakes binding, as well as replacing the suspension and brake flexi pipes. Surely that was it, I thought – but not before fitting a couple of new Avon Turbosteels.

    I was excited to discover that there was a large classic car rally planned in northern France in May, so decided it would be the ideal opportunity to tackle something a little more ambitious. In preparation, Alan repaired a leaking hydraulic cooler and a window lift. Unfortunately, on the way to the ferry the car ‘failed to proceed’ – the fan having gone through the radiator. Thankfully, Alan was once again at the ready and feeling a bit sorry for me! Fortunately, the rest of the summer was a breeze, with some delightful drives wafting up the Northumberland coast and around the Yorkshire Dales. Let’s hope this year the car will let me pay my debts!

    Clockwise, from above: ‘failing to proceed’; on show at club event; sybaritic cabin; R-R in good company; timeless John Blatchley styling.

    A happy owner poses proudly alongside his 1980 Silver Shadow II.
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    1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II £19,995. In 36 years you’d expect most cars to cover more than 46,000 miles - so this is special. Richard Gunn.

    It’s always reassuring when a marque specialist selling a car has known it for some time, and in the case of this Silver Shadow II, London-based Hanwells has been familiar with it for ten years. The Crewe-cut leviathan boasts an extensive paperwork file, despite its minimal mileage. The last service was 1000 miles ago.

    Low mileage plus conscientious care have certainly paid dividends. You have to look long and hard to find any real flaws with the exterior, such as minor tarnishing to the front and rear bumper tops and a slightly perished seal at the top of the rear window. The plastic bumpers themselves have some light scuffs on their rear quarters, but the fronts have escaped any grazing. Imperfections on the body are confined to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it patch of missing paint on the border between the two colours on the nearside front wing.

    The quartet of whitewall tyres aren’t of uniform make, with Avon Turbospeeds at the front and Mastercraft and Cooper rears. Still, they’re all in very good order, as are the wheeltrims.

    Under the bonnet, attention has been paid to detailing, and the only cosmetic flaw is rust around the edges of the brake fluid reservoir top, no doubt due to past spillages.

    Open the doors and you’re treated to pure, indulgent Rolls-Royce luxury, with acres of wood and nicely seasoned leather.
    As with the rest of the car, effort has obviously been expended to keep it looking fresh and clean, and the cream leather (with contrasting black piping) and carpets are free of grime. However, the driver’s side carpet is getting threadbare around the plastic mat. There’s some lifting of the wood veneer around the auxiliary gauge apertures and rectangular warning panel, but that’s it.
    Everything electrical functions as it should (aside from the slightly sporadic seatbelt warning light), including the clock - usually one of the first items to stop working on Shadows. A period radio and Blaupunkt cassette player look at home in the centre console. A working immobiliser is fitted, but there are the remains of a previous security device, in the form of a small numerical keypad, dangling from the driver’s side of the windscreen top.

    Nothing is amiss with the driving experience; it’s the expected and usual wafty and cossetting silky ride, where the driver provides the very minimum of effort. The genteel nature is disturbed only by the sharp brakes and kickdown, prompting the otherwise imperceptible automatic gearchanges to poke the lazy V8 into some very un-Shadow-like behaviour.
    Cheaper Silver Shadows are available, but you can spend a small fortune putting little niggles right. Given this car’s lack of real issues, we believe it represents decent value.

    CHOOSE YOUR ROLLS

    ► The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow supersedes the Silver Cloud in 1965, with the badge- engineered Bentley christened the T-series.

    The Cloud’s 6230cc V8 is carried over, but the monocoque construction and square-rigged lines are radical advances for traditional customers.

    ► Two-door saloons are introduced during 1966, built by James Young and Mulliner Park Ward. The latter also builds a convertible the following year.

    ► The GM400 three-speed automatic transmission is standardised in 1968, a year before long-wheelbase models are debuted. Two years after this, the V8’s capacity increases in displacement to 6750cc.

    ► The MPW convertibles receive a few tweaks and are renamed Corniches for 1971. There’s a change to the ‘standard’ saloons in 1974 when wider tyres require flared wheelarches.

    ► Series 2 cars come out during 1977, with plastic-faced bumpers, a front spoiler, new facia and split-level air conditioning. They persist until 1980, although the Corniche and its Bentley Continental sister continue through to 1995.

    SPECIFICATION

    Price £19,995
    Contact Hanwells Bentley & Rolls-Royce, Hanwell, London (hanwells.net, 020 8567 9729)
    Engine 6750cc. V8
    Power 200bhp@4000rpm
    Torque 290lb ft@2500rpm
    Performance
    Top speed: 120mph;
    0-60mph: 10.2sec
    Fuel consumption: 14mpg
    Length: 5372mm
    Width: 1824mm
    INSURANCE £217
    COMPREHENSIVE, 5000 MILES PER YEAR, GARAGED CALL: 01277 206911
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