The Crewe Collection: The Silver Shadow
“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.” William Shakespeare –
The Silver Shadow was launched in the autumn of 1965 beginning an exciting new legend. I remember them well as a young lad. The Silver Shadow is astonishingly beautiful…sophisticated…and every inch a Rolls Royce. This all-new motorcar felicitously synthesized epochal Rolls Royce virtues with contemporary ethics. During the 1960s, automobiles transitioned from over-embellished, chrome-laden land yachts to a sleeker, more restrained and unpretentious look.
The Silver Shadow’s trim, elegant, and highly refined design retains styling cues from the notoriously world-famous Rolls Royce Silver Cloud and adds its own unique au courant panache. The Silver Shadow maintains the poised dignity which is the hallmark of every Rolls Royce. This is one of the most successful production runs in the history of the brand. It was built from 1965 until 1980 in various forms. It is so well-loved, its famous design continued with the formidable Corniche series until 1995.
1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III
1969 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Series I
It’s a supreme achievement in motoring, supremely satisfying to own…and is supremely satisfying to enjoy. It precludes the restless quest for something to replace it. The Silver Shadow was the first all-new Rolls Royce introduced in a decade at the time. Development required 10 years of rigorous testing and research.
Rolls Royce had fallen behind the times with innovation and technology; the Silver Shadow brought the brand up to date fashionably. A car of such prodigious reputation has a tradition to uphold…at Rolls Royce there is no room for compromise. It is in fact the democratized Rolls Royce designed for the owner who prefers to take the wheel. It shuns ostentation with an understated splendor.
Evolving from a heritage of distinguished predecessors, the Silver Shadow showcased the latest technical advancements for the day. It’s the first Rolls Royce to use monocoque construction, fusing the bodyshell and chassis together as a single rigid entity. This type of unitary constructions eliminates squeaks and rattles.
Its extra rigid construction maintains the famous Rolls Royce ride. Since there is no chassis intrusion, there is more efficient use of space in the luggage compartment and more legroom in the cabin. The Silver Shadow is 7″ shorter and 3.5″ narrower than the Silver Cloud, yet it offers increased passenger and boot space.
The Silver Shadow is a fusion of coachbuilt eloquence…its glamour makes an exquisite first impression. It’s a dramatic departure from the past. The architecture is timeless and contemporary. The svelte lines of its understated elegance made it an immediate success.
The signature radiator grille and the Spirit of Ecstasy adorned an all-new motorcar establishing new standards in refinement and sophistication. It was built from 1965 until 1976 as Silver Shadow Series I, and as the Silver Shadow Series II from 1977 until 1980. This is a significant model for Rolls Royce…it holds the highest production volume of any other model in the history of the brand. The Silver Shadow is still among the most popular collectible automobiles with enthusiasts world-wide.
Like its predecessor the Silver Cloud, there is no deviation or gaudy, trendy, superficial styling to render it redundant. The Silver Shadow retains its original look with minor cosmetic revisions throughout its production run. For the 1974 model year, the wheelbase was extended, it received wider tires, and flared wheel arches.
The only noticeable exterior variation is the aluminium polyurethane-faced impact absorbing bumpers that replaced the chrome plated originals for models exported to the US in 1973 and 1974 forward for the rest of the markets. Rolls Royce would have never opted for such had it not been for the USA mandated 5 mph energy-absorbing requirement. The rest of the markets received the same look for styling continuity except they didn’t include shock absorbers to yield upon impact. Rolls Royce wanted a unified presence in all markets.
1973 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
Note the styling continuity from 1965 until 1973
Notorious comfort and convenience is paramount with Rolls Royce. The Silver Shadow features a spacious and highly refined cabin with an ambiance of luxurious understatement. There’s no bling…no fancy frills, no useless bells and whistles – just classic simplicity. The Silver Shadow continues the legendary Rolls Royce eloquence in its own distinguished manner. It follows Rolls Royce tradition with its exclusive heads-up seating for passengers.
The fully reclining front seats are electrically adjustable with dual folding center armrests. The Silver Shadow cradles its passengers with a deep-seated luxury which rivals the comfort of luxurious lounge chairs. An aromatic scent from the hand-stitched leather by Connolly Brothers excites the senses. The warmth of hand-crafted mirror-matched wood veneers, plush Wilton hand-tufted carpet, and lambswool rugs augments the cabin with the look of fine home furnishings…
Note the elegant mirror-matched veneers for the door garnish rails. This pattern is the exclusive Rolls Royce cross-banded design where the artisan uses two patterns creating an unusual one-of-a-kind design which no two Rolls Royce motorcars will share…
Who would have thought the Bentley badged variants would become even more valuable than their Rolls Royce sister models? The Bentley T Series is a highly sought collectible world-wide. This is a 1970 titled model.
The Silver Shadow is available badged as the Bentley T1 built from 1965 until 1976 and the Bentley T2 from 1977 until 1980. The only visual difference from the Silver Shadow is the radiator grille and the bonnet. Bentleys have always been tuned for more spirited performance. Long wheelbase variants were available, however; these are extremely rare. Clients preferred the Silver Shadow over the Bentley for the longer wheelbase model.
The Bentley is also available as a Corniche coachbuilt fixedhead coupé (only 63 were built from 1971 until 1981) and drophead coupé models (from 1971 until 1984). The drophead coupé was renamed Bentley Continental in 1985 and was in production until 1995. A turbocharged version of the Continental drophead coupé was built from 1992 until 1995.
1969 Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward coachbuilt coupé
The Silver Shadow became available as a two-door fixedhead coupé for the 1966 model year. There are two coachbuilders who built these exclusive limited production models. Mulliner Park Ward is the primary coachbuilder and there are 50 extremely rare examples built by James Young (35 badged as Rolls Royce and 15 badged as Bentley models). Mulliner Park Ward crafted exquisite hand-built two-door drophead coupé models beginning the 1967 model year.
Both of these coachbuilt models were renamed Corniche in 1971 and were built until 1982 when the fixedhead coupé was discontinued. The drophead coupé was built until production of this world-famous model ceased in 1995. The Rolls Royce Corniche remains pre-eminent in the world of ultra-luxury automobiles. Mulliner Park Ward crafted Rolls Royce two-door coupé models exclusively for the brand making each highly desirable to collectors and enthusiasts world-wide.
1972 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow long wheelbase saloon
Rare 1967 Silver Shadow long wheelbase saloon
There are only 10 of these built for the 1967 model year
A long wheelbase variant became available in 1969 for the US and 1970 for the rest of the markets. There are 10 extremely rare long wheelbase versions built in 1967. One was built for HRH Princess Margaret. These 10 are very, very special saloons. The regular production models for 1969 forward have distinctive signature exterior features.
They have a luxurious roof covering in Everflex with a unique closed-in limousine-style rear window treatment which affords added privacy for rear seat passengers. “RR” badges adorn the sail panels identifying them as exclusive Rolls Royce limited edition saloons. The larger rear doors anonymously incorporates the added length. The long wheelbase saloon is identical in every manner to the regular production versions.
The cabin is also identical to its sister model. Its additional length equates to 4” of extra legroom for rear seat passengers. Upholstery, trim, carpets, and veneers are all exactly as its twin. Rolls Royce never makes a fuss over amenities – chic understatement is the norm. The classic simplicity of the elegant long wheelbase variants is rich and rare.
The 6.2 litre V8 engine
Power for the Silver Shadow is derived from two versions of the Rolls Royce V8 engine. The earlier models from 1965-1970 use the 6.2 litre 16-valve 380 CID naturally aspirated V8 engine that produces 188 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 480 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 13.1 seconds with a top speed in the 109 mph range.
The 6.75 litre V8 engine
The 6.2 litre V8 engine was bored out to become a 6.75 litre 16-valve 412 CID naturally aspirated V8. It produces 217 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 530 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds with a top speed in the 115 mph range. This version was used from 1970-1980.
These hp ratings are estimated based upon hp ratings for the Bentley T Series, when Rolls Royce was quizzed regarding horsepower ratings their reply was “adequate.” This was like ancient Chinese secret to them. When such a prodigious automobile is concerned, this type of inquiry is crass. Both versions of this engine have aluminium alloy blocks and cylinder heads. My personal preference is the 6.75 litre V8 engine; it is designed to produce fewer emissions and is more fuel-efficient.
The engines are mated to GM 400 Series Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed and 4-speed automatic transmissions. The export versions to the US features the GM Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission. Earlier versions from 1965 – 1967 have the GM 4-speed automatic transmission which is not as smooth as the 3-speed versions; and is more expensive to repair.
The 4-speed cannot be easily swapped out for the 3-speed…I should mention, it is not an easy bolt-on process so kids do not try this at home. Make sure to check out the earlier versions carefully. Transmission fluid should be changed every 12,000 miles with a new filter. Check the lines for leaks and corrosion.
The Silver Shadow is endowed with a sophisticated high-pressure hydraulic system. A dual master cylinder provides fully independent operation of front and rear braking systems. There is an easy way I found out to detect pressure problems with this hydraulic braking network. Turn on the engine and allow the vehicle to reach operating temperature and all warning lights are off. Then turn off the engine leaving the key in the ignition in the “on” position. Then pump the brakes with your foot. If you get to 35-40 pumps the two hydraulic warning lights should glow.
Should these lights begin to glow before reaching the 35-40 pumps chances are there are existing low accumulator pressure issues. AND…if the two brake warning lamps do not light up at all…someone has disconnected them to hide brake issues. This hydraulic network is obscenely expensive to repair or restore. Then check the master cylinder for leaks, check the fluid level in the two little windows on the reservoir. If there are pressure issues and or leaks, take it to a reputable mechanic. You want to purchase a car that has been regularly driven and its maintenance schedule followed to the letter.
This high-pressure hydraulic system not only maintains the braking system but the self-leveling system as well. The Silver Shadow has an automatic ride height control designed to maintain optimum poise regardless of road conditions or load. Both front and rear suspensions were equipped from 1965 until 1969. Chassis # 7404 forward is set up for the rear suspension only since it does most of the work anyway.
This sophisticated hydraulic system is complicated. It’s divided into three systems: the pressure generating circuit, the braking circuit, and the ride height system. The pressure generating circuit consists of three elements: fluid reservoir, hydraulic pump, and accumulator assembly. The hydraulic pump is the most important part of the system. The accumulator regulates and restores pressure to the system as a whole.
The fluid reservoir needs to be flushed every two years. There are two types of fluid used: chassis # 1001-49,999 uses Castrol-Girling RR363 brake fluid; and chassis # 50,000 onward uses Castrol-Girling mineral oil fluid. The two types are NOT interchangeable; should contamination happen this MUST be undertaken by a professional to resolve and believe me…this is HORRIDLY expensive!
Fluid levels may drop over time but this should not happen if the maintenance schedule was followed. EVERY low-fluid situation should be investigated: brake lines, height control valves, and the fluid level window seals on the reservoir itself.
1977-1980 Silver Shadow II
The Silver Shadow II is highly refined success. Rolls Royce motorcars are under constant evolution in their relentless quest for perfection. The Silver Shadow II, Silver Wraith II, and the Bentley T2 were in their final revision ending a long and distinguished tenure. Through evolution came refinement with all Rolls Royce motorcars. Nothing emerged from a blinding flash of inspiration.
The engine was increased in displacement from 6.2 litres to 6.75 litres and a central locking system were introduced in 1970. The suspension was modified in 1972. A foot pedal operated parking brake and ventilated front disc brakes were added in 1973. Electronic ignition was introduced in 1975 and the limited edition Rolls Royce Camargue emerged built upon the Silver Shadow platform.
Power assisted rack and pinion steering was added in 1977. By the time the Silver Shadow became Series II in 1977; it had received over 2,000 refinements differentiating it from the original Silver Shadow introduced in 1965. If you are in the market for a Silver Shadow II, Silver Wraith II, or the rare Bentley T2 saloons, the 1977 through 1980 models are the ideal candidates for your search. They are everything Rolls Royce inspired the series to be. The Bentley T2 and the Silver Wraith II are the prizes from this genre…happy hunting!
There was very little change with the Silver Shadow II
1977-1980 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith II LWB saloon
The luxurious Silver Wraith II is the Silver Shadow long wheelbase saloon in its most eminent form. They qualify as personal limousines. The Silver Wraith II was built from 1977 until 1980. These elegant saloons were also available as extended wheelbase ‘double-cuts’ or stretch limousines.
The Silver Wraith II has exclusive signature features that sets it apart from the Silver Shadow II. It has an elegant roof treatment covered in Everflex with a distinctive limousine-style closed in rear window. “RR” badges are affixed to the rear sail panels. Unique stainless-steel wheel discs adds the finishing touch of elegance…
The “Silver Wraith II” badge on the boot lid identifies this as a Rolls Royce limited edition motorcar. Its 4″ longer wheelbase affords rear seat passengers more leg room. Carpeted rear seat footrests are trimmed with the same Wilton carpet. Less than 2,200 Silver Wraith II models were built making them attractive to the collector. These opulent saloons remain the epitome of luxury and elegance on the grand Rolls Royce scale.
The Silver Wraith II as with all Rolls Royce long wheelbase saloons is the formal model appropriate for chauffeur driven occasions…but then, why waste this exhilarating machine on a chauffeur?
The 1977-1980 Bentley T2 saloon
The famous radiator shell and Flying “B”
The cabin is identical to its Rolls Royce sister model
Special thanks to Rodd Sala and Park Ward Motors Museum, the finest caretaker of the marque in the Midwest. Go see Rodd for all of your Rolls Royce needs whether it be servicing, veneer restoration, a full restoration, or if you are in the market to purchase, tell him Greg sent you!
It’s a shame we will never see another Mulliner Park Ward coachbuilt Rolls Royce, nor the dedication artisans at the historic Crewe facility in the UK put into the illustrious Rolls Royce motorcars they hand-crafted…
This is a 1965 aluminium bodied coachbuilt coupé by Mulliner Park Ward. It is one of the last of the breed…
The Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is a legend in its own time. It brought the brand up to date retaining the distinguished demeanor which is the hallmark of the brand. This is one of the most popular models having the highest production volume of any Rolls Royce motorcar in the history of the brand.
It’s the first Rolls Royce motorcar to incorporate monocoque construction in its design. From 1965 until 1980, the Silver Shadow epitomized Rolls Royce luxury and elegance. They are among the finest automobiles hand-crafted at the historic Crewe facility. The Silver Shadow is the pride of the UK…and the envy of the entire world –
The Crewe built Rolls Royce IS NotoriousLuxury…
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