…”Nil fato relinquemus”
The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten
“Whisper…tick…soar…the loudest sound you will hear in a Rolls Royce is the beating of your heart.” It was the first all-new Rolls Royce since 1955. The Silver Shadow was introduced in 1965 and built until the 1980 model year. The 1980 Silver Shadow II had over 2,000 refinements through its evolution. It took at least four months to build “the best car in the world.”
If one has never driven a Rolls Royce they are in for a number of delightful surprises. When the key is switched on the engine doesn’t ‘roar’ its existence…it whispers its presence. When the gear shift lever is shifted to drive it does so imperceptibly. The car drives straight as an arrow…without waiver gripping the pavement with precision. When the brakes are applied…it halts each wheel independently.
This car has a secret…
The Silent Motor Car continued with the Silver Shadow II. It was a masterwork of classic grace and timeless beauty. They look as good today as they did in 1980. From the classic profile to its silent engine, this remarkable automobile is at home anywhere in the world. The 1980 Silver Shadow II was the last in this impressive series.
The painstaking process during its four-month build included endless hours of shaping, fitting, tuning, testing, painting, and refining to become the Silver Shadow II and Silver Wraith II. They both embodied the depths of modern technology and embraced the heights of ageless artistry. The Silver Shadow II and Silver Wraith II were built from 1977 until 1980.
The Silver Shadow II echoed an impressive past yet clearly reflected a contemporary, democratized silhouette. Its hand-shaped monocoque bodyshell had doors, boot, and bonnet made from lightweight aluminium.
The Series II wrap around bumpers had polyurethane impact inserts and were energy-absorbing yielding upon minor impact to protect the sheet metal. Euro versions had an air dam on the front valence available for grand touring appeal. It required two weeks to paint and, depending upon the color at least twelve coats of paint.
There are a limited number of men to possess the ability to make the iconic Rolls Royce radiator grille. It is built entirely by hand and then polished five hours to make the stainless-steel gleam as silver.
Each grille column appears to be perfectly rectilinear but they are slightly bowed. The process is called entasis. The ancient Greeks used this process for the pillars of the Parthenon. This produces a frame of enormous strength. It takes 10 days to construct the radiator grille.
The radiator grille’s crowning glory is the famous Spirit of Ecstasy designed in 1911 by Charles Sykes. It was designed to combat the widespread fad of attaching grotesque little figurines by aristocracy. The manufacturers wanted the Rolls Royce to have a distinguished and uniform appearance. They wanted every square inch of the automobile to reflect beauty.
The method of casting the “Flying Lady” was discovered about 4,000 years ago by the Chinese “lost wax process.” A figure is surrounded by a refractory material that when hardened the wax is melted leaving an impression. The metal is poured in. Once the metal has hardened the refractory material is chipped away leaving a perfect replica. The Spirit of Ecstasy earned considerable acclaim from the day it was produced. It won a first prize gold medal in a 1920 world competition for the best motorcar mascot.
A Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was built to protect itself from theft. The only way a Rolls Royce may be stolen is to lift it off its four wheels upon a dolly and towed. The locks were designed based upon a 4,000 year old Egyptian design from the tombs of pharaohs.
The locks are pick-proof, with a power centralized locking system. The odds are 24,000 to one against the possibility of a duplicate key being forged. If the intruder did manage to get inside he couldn’t go very far…once the key has been removed from the ignition the transmission locks and cannot be released without its original key.
This car belonged to someone very special…
Step into the lap of luxury, it didn’t stint on elegance. There were Circassian walnut and Lombardian walnut veneers for 1980. Each half of the veneers were mirror-matched to the opposite side.
The Silver Shadow II used the Circassian walnut and the Silver Wraith II used the Lombardian walnut. The veneers were lacquered and hand-polished to a glass-like shine and then tempered in slow ovens for longevity. One could stub a cigar out on it and not leave a trace…
The scent of luxuriously sumptuous natural grain leather by Connolly Brothers wafts through the cabin. The selector for these hides patiently rejected some 500 before he found one fine enough for the best car in the world. The rejects end up as expensive leather goods.
These hides come from animals pastured in fields with electrified fences as opposed to barbed wire to guarantee a hide would be completely free from scratches and blemishes. Luxurious Wilton hand-tufted wool pile carpets were luxuriously under foot. That even lines the boot completely. Mouton rugs were available to add a decadently luxurious touch of elegance…
Rolls Royce even had “tips” for owners. Any classic clothing would be suitable to ride in the brand. They suggested good woolens, furs, cashmere etc. In keeping with the times, it is ok to wear jeans as long as they are designer styled. Men could wear hunting jackets, the type with a leather patch on the shoulder that serves as a gun rest. NO ONE should be caught wearing shorts, evening clothes before five p.m. or polyester –
This car’s owner was an actor…
The 1980 Silver Shadow II was powered by the 6.75 litre 16-valve V8. The engine block was made from high silicon content aluminium alloy with cast iron wet liners and aluminium alloy cylinder heads. It used a hardened steel crankshaft that ran in five main bearings. The water pump had a 7-bladed fan with electric booster fan in front of the radiator.
The engine was equipped with electronic ignition, dual exhaust system with stainless-steel silencers, twin catalytic converters, and Air injection system with exhaust gas recirculation. Two SU HD8 carburetors with automatic mixture enrichment, automatic choke, Pierburg fuel pump, and fuel evaporative loss system, made up the fuel delivery system.
Its crankshaft was made of nitride hardened forged chrome molybdenum steel. The oil pump had helical displacement gears with integral relief valve which fed high pressure oil to the crankshaft, connecting rods, crankshaft bearings, and engine gears. A 23.5 US gallon gas tank was positioned to prevent rupture or fuel loss in an accident.
Self-adjusting hydraulic tappets were assembled in a paraffin bath to avoid dust that would eventually cause wear and noise. To guarantee freedom from vibration, the eight pistons were weighed and matched by pairs. The engine was tested for the equivalence of 150 miles on a test bed before being installed into the car. The engineers listened with a stethoscope for imperfections. There were three silencers on the engine, each tuned to eliminate a different frequency.
GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission with torque converter was mated to the engine. It had an electronic gear range selector. The propeller shaft was one piece with hypoid bevel final drive. The transmission had 3- forward gears and reverse with over-riding hand and kick-down change control.
The Rolls Royce belonged to Paul Newman
The 1980 Silver Shadow II had an independent front suspension with lower wishbones and compliant controlled upper lever, coil springs, telescopic dampers with anti-roll bar mounted on front subframe. Its design incorporated anti-dive geometry.
Its rear suspension was independent with trailing arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers, and anti-roll bar mounted on rear subframe. The rear incorporated anti-squat geometry. It was set-up for automatic leveling. Automatic height control was operated by an engine-driven hydraulic pump to maintain proper ride height regardless of load. It rode upon a 119.5” wheelbase, was 207.5” in length and 71.8” in width.
A long wheelbase variant, the Silver Wraith II had a longer 123.5” wheelbase and was the more formal saloon that could be equipped with a power glass division for privacy. The negative aspect of this was the fact it took up the added inches that the stretched wheelbase provided. An Everflex roof covering with RR badges affixed to the sail panels were signature distinguishing exterior features. The added inches were incorporated into larger rear doors retaining the car’s original design.
The 1980 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II was the last in this illustrious series for this highly successful model. It had over 2,000 refinements through its evolution. It was a masterwork of classic grace and timeless beauty. The Silver Shadow II was a large powerful saloon.
The Rolls Royce 6.75 litre V8 engine had more than adequate stamina to cosset its passengers in first-class comfort. Hand-rubbed veneers, Wilton carpets, and only the finest hides in the industry hand-stitched by Connolly Brothers were the fortuitous luxuries that were the hallmarks of the brand. It took four patient months to build the Silver Shadow II. Whisper…tick…soar…the loudest sound you will hear in a Rolls Royce is the beating of your heart-
Special thanks to Rodd Sala and Daniel Schmitt