A touch of class…
The pride of the UK…envy of the world
The highly successful Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was produced in various forms from 1965 until 1980. It was offered as a standard saloon and a long wheelbase saloon. One such version was built as a long wheelbase formal limousine with factory privacy division. The Silver Shadow was the next generation of the Rolls Royce motorcar during its tenure. It was completely different from any previous offering with styling that looked clearly to the future.
It holds the title of having the largest production volume in the history of the brand. The formal saloons with power division are extremely rare. The long wheelbase variants were available beginning the 1969 model year for the USA, and 1970 for domestic customers. Ten test pilot LWB saloons were built in 1967. The Silver Shadow was the most significant model since the Silver Ghost. Its development took 11 years of testing and many upgrades and technical refinement.
1967 Silver Shadow LWB saloon
The car was a major leap ahead of its predecessors. All power and every luxury such as a silky-smooth automatic transmission that changed gears imperceptibly, power windows, power seat adjustment, air conditioning, power fuel filler door, and power antenna were all-electric.
Rolls Royce built ten long wheelbase variants as a test in 1967. They were referred to as Silver Shadow LWB saloons. One of these special saloons was purchased by Princess Margaret. With their rarity, these are highly sought by collectors all over the world. These are considered the epitome of Rolls Royce…
The Silver Shadow LWB saloons provided four inches more legroom for rear seat passengers. It was the most formal saloon offered. The added length was anonymously added into the rear doors in order to maintain the Silver Shadow’s original design. These spacious saloons usually had a roof covered in Everflex with the “RR” badging on the rear sail panels. The opulent roof styling is augmented by French seams and an elegant rear limousine-style opera window. This discretely crafted window enhances privacy and adds distinction. This is one high-profile not to mention classy saloon. The Silver Shadow LWB was built officially from 1969 until 1976. From 1977 until 1980 it was renamed “Silver Wraith II.” Less than 5,000 long wheelbase variants were built between 1969 and 1980.
1977 Silver Wraith II
The Silver Shadow has styling that looks as contemporary today as it did from its inception. It has a timeless appeal, the architecture is elegant and luxurious. The integral steel construction is fitted with aluminium alloy doors, boot lid, and bonnet. It’s an automobile for the driver with exceptional taste. The pristine example shown, a 1971 long wheelbase saloon retains the poised dignity that is the hallmark of every Rolls Royce. The highly polished stainless steel augments its timeless architecture. The massive chrome front and rear bumpers with their imposing guards adds a distinguished air of aristocracy. The Silver Shadow LWB is a formal saloon and a rare prize to the avid collector.
The gleaming steel and aluminium bodyshell was built by some of the most uncompromising craftsmen on the face of the earth. For three days they do nothing but search for flaws and imperfections before its first coat of primer. They use a special highlighting fluid, ultra violet lighting, and fingers as trained as a concert pianist to detect the tiniest imperfections they eye could never find – Each and every flaw is eliminated before the first coat of primer. The paintwork alone can take up to three weeks. Every square inch is hand polished after each one of the fourteen to twenty coats of primer, filler, and top coats. This is why a Rolls Royce shines with such depth. The coachwork is formed mostly by hand using techniques that date back to an era when elegance was an obsession and living, a fine art. A Rolls Royce…is a Rolls Royce –
An interesting option available was the power glass partition. It does add privacy; however, it uses up the additional 4” the long wheelbase added. These LWB saloons are highly sought by collectors today. Cars outside of North America fitted with this option have a separate air conditioning unit located in the boot. North American safety laws made this impossible because the fuel tank would have to be relocated.
A formal interior of understated elegance cossets its passengers in first-class luxury. The rear compartment of the featured car is equipped with the rare privacy division. It can be raised and lowered electrically. The rear compartment is equipped with controls for the radio and air conditioning. The power windows and locks are also among the rear seat controls for convenience. Carpeted footrests and reading lamps complete the limousine experience. The Silver Shadow LWB saloon provides the kind of satisfaction only a carefully made and individually crafted work of art can give.
The upholstery of this formal saloon are of English leather hand-crafted by Connolly Brothers, the masters of the craft. Each hide selected for a Rolls Royce are out of 500 set aside just for perfection. The rejected hides end up as high-end leather goods. Every stitch, every pleat and tuck are done meticulously by hand. It takes between eight to ten perfectly matched hides to upholster the cabin of a Rolls Royce.
The wood veneers of the dash and door garnish rails glows translucently. This is the result of numerous clocked hours of hand-rubbing. The lacquer used yields a glass-like appearance. And upon closer inspection you will see the subtle pattern is mirror-matched to the opposite side of the interior. This method has been used by fine furniture craftsmen for centuries.
Hand-tufted individually fitted Wilton 100% wool carpets trim the cabin floor and the boot compartment. As a luxurious option, one could select lambswool rugs to accent the cabin. These are just a few of the myriad niceties that makes a Rolls Royce a Rolls Royce. It is a completely bespoke automobile that makes it the pride of the UK…and the envy of the world –
The Silver Shadow was a dramatic departure from the past. It retained styling cues from its RR heritage. It was like no other model in the history of the brand. From 1965 until 1969 it was powered by the 6.2 litre V8 engine that produced 172 hp. The block was bored out to 6.75 litres for the 1970 model year until the end of production in 1980. This engine, the 412 CID 16-valve V8 produced 217 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 530 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm.
These figures are based upon the Bentley “T” series because Rolls Royce never gave horsepower ratings…when asked their reply was “adequate.” The engine is fitted with two SU H58 carburetors and mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic THM-400 3-speed automatic transmission. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 10.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 36.3 seconds, with a top speed of 114 mph. It does the ¼ mile @ 79 mph in 17.7 seconds. The 6.75 litre was more spirited than the old 6.2 litre V8.
The Silver Shadow is the first in the brand’s history to be built using monocoque construction, fusing the bodyshell and chassis together as a single, stronger entity. The benefits from this type of build yields more interior space, a lower center of gravity, and eliminates squeaks and rattles. Four-wheel independent suspension was introduced by the Silver Shadow. The standard wheelbase is 120” and 124” for the long wheelbase variants. The LWB measures 207.5” in length with a 71” width. Four wheel disc brakes stops the Silver Shadow effectively.
An innovative feature for the Silver Shadow is its high-pressure hydraulic system. The cam operated hydraulic system was high-tech for its day. It managed a dual-circuit braking system and a hydraulic leveling system. The braking system facilitated independent operation for both front and rear systems. Should one fail, the other halts each wheel independently.
The hydraulic leveling system controlled both front and rear suspensions but discontinued the front system in 1969. The rear system did the majority of the work anyway. The leveling system is so sensitive it adjusts the vehicle as gasoline is used up from the tank. The Silver Shadow was the most significant model for Rolls Royce since the introduction of the Silver Ghost. A Rolls Royce does everything for its driver…all one has to do is steer and operate the accelerator and brake pedals…
Since 1906 Rolls Royce has been officially and formally established, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. “The quality will remain…long after the price has been forgotten” is a part of the brand’s advertising. There are only a few tangible commodities in life that remain true to form…without gimmicks and deceit. Rolls Royce is one of these.
A Rolls Royce must be seen to be believed, driven to be fully appreciated, and owned for complete satisfaction. A Rolls Royce precludes the restless quest for something better to replace it with – the 1971 Silver Shadow long wheelbase formal saloon is proof – good taste never becomes outmoded…once you have driven a Rolls Royce no other automobile even comes close.
“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it. Accept nothing nearly right or good enough.” Sir Frederick Henry Royce
Special thanks to Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum, caretaker of the brand