The Silver Spirit was the next generation of the Rolls Royce
The Rolls Royce Silver Spirit replaced the highly successful Silver Shadow series. This is the first use of aerodynamics by the brand. It is designed for the contemporary world in a trim, new style. The Silver Spirit heralds a new era in the history of Rolls Royce. A modern motorcar with enhanced comfort and convenience; is immediately recognized as a classic design in the Rolls Royce tradition.
The Silver Spirit MK I was built from 1980 to 1989 with only 8,129 built. MK II was built from 1989 until 1993 with 1,152 built, MK III was built from 1994 until 1995 with a mere 234 built, and the MK IV was built from 1996 until 1997 with only 145 built. The more popular Silver Spur, was the long wheelbase variant and was built until 2000. The 1997 model year was the finale for the Silver Spirit. The clean new look is meant to attract younger buyers. The legend becomes a lifestyle…
All-new production facilities and assembly methods were introduced for the Silver Spirit. A great deal of money was invested into its introduction. More planning and preparation was devoted to this model than any of the previous models. The Silver Spirit represents a tremendous achievement in overall design. It was also a major success in automotive engineering, design, construction of the production theatre, jigs, tooling, and dies that enabled components to be made and assembled accurately and efficiently. The total Silver Spirit experience was geared towards the 21st century evolution.
The Silver Spirit is lower and wider than its predecessor. The iconic radiator grille is also lower and wider. The lower front valence is designed to increase downforce. The rake of the larger windscreen and beveled front wings reduces the drag coefficient. This design increases stability at high speeds by keeping the nose of the car down and moving the center of pressure to the rear.
Deflectors at the “A” posts keep the front side windows clear of rain/slush. A channel across the top of the bonnet carries water away that is channeled downward by the wipers. The channel in the “A” posts handle water removed during the wiper’s upstroke. The aerodynamics provides a means of draining away water that collects after it has been swept away by the wipers.
Research for the Silver Spirit began in 1973. No Rolls Royce model stems from a blinding flash of inspiration. Features which create drag at high speeds are rejected. Computer aided design and wind tunnel testing were used to improve the Silver Spirit’s aerodynamic efficiency. This also yields significant advances in directional stability. Styling is more than just a means of giving shape to an automobile. Form and function, serviceability, and long-life are important to the designer as well. It is the responsibility of the design team to ensure that the unique features that give a Rolls Royce its identity are recreated with great subtlety in each new model.
The Silver Spirit’s form & function follows through its design. The bumpers conform to USA regulations; the position, shape, and strength of them are acceptable all over the world. Few other countries enforce such strict bumper laws. The headlamps and taillamps can be modified to be driven in any country. Universal lamp housings permit interchangeability allowing fittings to comply with any country’s regulations regarding the disposition, shape, size, and brightness of the rear lamps, fog lamps, and reflectors.
Every Rolls Royce radiator grille is made by one of a team of craftsmen. After it is meticulously constructed, it is then hand-polished for up to five hours. The crowning touch is the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy Flying Goddess; the symbol of motoring excellence. The Silver Spirit is the first Rolls Royce to feature a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy grille ornament. She sinks into the radiator shell should she become dislodged from her position.
Balmoral UK is the pride of the UK
The Silver Spirit – as with all Royce models – presents a sumptuously luxurious interior. Wilton 100% wool hand-tufted carpet luxuriously lines the interior and the floor of the boot. The aromatic scent of leather augments the air-conditioned atmosphere. The Comfortable contoured power seats are just as comfortable as your favorite arm-chair. Up to 260 square feet of the finest leather is hand-sewn and tailored in the Rolls Royce tradition by Connolly Brothers. The hides are carefully matched for color and texture. The very best portions are cut for the seating surfaces. The door panels, dash, and other non-wearing surfaces are trimmed with the rest.
The woodwork requires days to complete, all cut and matched by hand and eye. Each pattern is unique to each car. Three coats of lacquer are applied to the veneers and air-dried for three days. The veneer is so durable; a Cohiba Esplendido may be stubbed out in the finish without leaving a trace. As driver or passenger, the Silver Spirit will enable you to travel with more comfort and less fatigue.
The Silver Spirit is built on the Silver Shadow platform using the same engine & transmission. Since performance specifications aren’t available for earlier Rolls Royce models, I am using the specs from the 1984 Bentley Mulsanne since it is a badge-engineered Rolls Royce anyway, for this example which is a 1984 Silver Spirit. The engine is lightweight and more efficient. Its block is made from aluminium-silicon alloy while the cylinder heads are made from aluminium-silicon magnesium alloy.
The crankshaft runs in five main bearings. It has 16-valves in the overhead configuration. The Bosch fuel injection system and two fuel pumps make up the fuel delivery system. The engine uses self-adjusting hydraulic tappets and cast iron wet cylinder liners. The smoothness, silence, and refinement of the Rolls Royce engine are legendary. Every possible source of noise and vibration has been reduced to an absolute minimum.
The 6.75 litre V8 produces 256 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 550 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. The engine is mated to the GM Turbo Hydra-Matic THM-400 3-speed automatic transmission. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 26.1 seconds, 0-110 mph in 37.3 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 85 mph in 16.5 seconds.
The Silver Spirit, like its predecessor was built as monocoque construction. It is a large saloon with the luxury length of 207.4”, riding upon a long 120.5” wheelbase, and 74.3” in width. It has two subframes. The front suspension is independent with lower wishbones, upper stabilized lever, and an anti-roll bar. Coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers are fitted to both front and rear. The rear suspension uses independent semi-trailing arms; anti-roll bar, auxiliary gas springs, and struts. The gas springs further refine the ride. The rear suspension is also set-up for the automatic ride height control.
With the Silver Spirit’s new suspension system, there was a major change in the medium of lubrication. The hydraulic circuits for the front and rear suspension systems and braking systems now use mineral oil. Hydraulic System Mineral Oil (HSMO) has many benefits; it reduces friction between moving parts in the leveling and braking systems. It also prolongs component life with better vibration and damping properties resulting in better shock absorption.
Mineral oil isn’t corrosive such as brake fluid, and is less liable to damage hydraulic components. Unlike conventional brake fluid, it doesn’t encourage water to seep into hydraulic systems via hoses and seals. Ingress of water can create “vapor lock” brake fade. Another benefit of HSMO’s non-hygroscopic properties is that by reducing the possibility of water seeping into the hydraulic system, thus, it reduces the possibility of water-induced corrosion and contamination.
The Silver Spirit’s handling and secondary ride are further enhanced by placing the suspension dampers in a lower position on the trailing arms. The dampers are part of the suspension struts. The springs were modified to allow the new “Girling” self-leveling system to be installed. This uses each rear damper as a strut by connecting it via column of hydraulic oil to gas springs. Two valves keep the car level by adjusting the level of oil in the dampers when the body of the car is not within proper ride height.
Eleven inch diameter ventilated discs are fitted to all four wheels. The patented Rolls Royce dual braking system facilitates independent operation of front and rear braking systems. Should one system fail, the other system will still halt each wheel independently.
The power assisted braking system uses a foot pedal that is ergonomically designed for the most comfortable application; it follows the natural motion of the leg and foot downward towards the floor. The parking brake is foot operated with a vacuum release when the transmission is shifted to a drive gear. It doubles as an emergency brake since it will not lock with the engine running and car in gear.
The Silver Spur is the long wheelbase variant of the Silver Spirit. The 124.5″ wheelbase is 4″ longer providing added rear passenger room. Subtle signature exterior features are the luxurious roof covering in Everflex with “RR” badges affixed to each rear sail panel, upgraded wheel covers, and “Silver Spur” badging on the bootlid.
Special thanks to Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum
The Silver Spirit and Silver Spur are the first Rolls Royce models to use aerodynamics in their design. It took engineers eight years to develop the Silver Spirit. The all-new styling is aimed at a younger buyer. The 6.75 litre V8 engine responds swiftly and positively. The three speed automatic transmission and electric gear range selector are quiet and smooth.
The interior offers a world of almost total silence. Supple natural grain leather is hand-tailored to perfection. Its hand-crafted veneers rival that of fine home furnishings. The Silver Spirit leaves no room for compromise – from the hand-sculpted radiator grille to its matched veneers – it is built according to principles laid down more than 100 years ago by Sir Frederick Henry Royce. “The quality will remain long after the price has been forgotten.
A rare Silver Spirit two-door coupé with coachcrafting by Hooper
A dream with a little bit of fantasy…
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