“Love all, trust a few…do wrong to none” William Shakespeare –
The last Rolls Royce models built at the historic Crewe facility in the UK precludes an illustrious heritage in ultra-luxury motoring. It is the finale to the dedication and the labor of love from the artisans who created automotive masterpieces. These men and women did what machines cannot replicate…by the experienced hand and the skillful eye. The talent and expertise they utilized was inherited through generations. This was knowledge that on the job training programs cannot provide.
1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I
The dedicated tinsmiths, cabinet makers, sheet metal workers, seamstresses, and engineers worked in harmony to handcraft motorcars of the highest quality. These artisans would not compromise their craft…nor would they mitigate their talent. The Crewe built Rolls Royce is a legacy to be cherished.
The highly bespoke superlatives created at Crewe will always be remembered for exemplary craftsmanship. The last of the impeccably crafted Rolls Royce models are the Silver Seraph and the Corniche V. Part I of this tribute is dedicated to the Silver Seraph saloon. Part II will follow in a separate tribute as a farewell to the formidable Corniche series.
The Silver Seraph’s presence is quietly authoritative. It is the contemporary rendition of a time-honored classic. The exclusive world of Rolls Royce became even more so…the Silver Seraph, as with all Rolls Royce motorcars presents an elegant understatement. Nothing is designed to render it redundant. In this harried mass-produced world, designs change so fast, many of the competitor’s offerings are outmoded before they reach the end of the assembly line while in theatre.
A Rolls Royce is a thing of beauty which becomes lovelier and more valuable as it ages…like fine art. The Silver Seraph combines technology, new levels of comfort, and dynamic ability with all that has been tried, tested, and true. It’s an exciting and innovative expression of traditional enduring Rolls Royce principles.
The elegant Silver Seraph saloon was handcrafted at Crewe from 1998 until 2002 and only 1,570 were built. They are one of the most expensive regular production four-door saloons to motor out of Crewe at a hefty $220,695. It continued the Rolls Royce dynasty with an eminent tradition of excellence. The Silver Seraph redefined Rolls Royce virtues building upon its illustrious heritage evolving into a totally new, completely individualized motorcar of distinction.
The Silver Seraph’s clean contemporary architecture remains timeless…yet classic. The aerodynamic construction features an all steel monocoque design with high torsional rigidity. Its all-new design is 65% stiffer than previous models in order to compensate for the increased torque-thrust from the mighty V12 powerplant. The construction incorporates 6,500 spot welds. It has impact-absorbing body sections front and rear. Color keyed front and rear bumpers resist minor impact. It is the second Rolls Royce to incorporate aerodynamics in its design.
Rolls Royce Silver Spur
The Silver Spirit and Silver Spur introduced entirely new body lines designed to cleave the air efficiently as no previous model ever had before. The Silver Seraph built upon these principles to become even more aerodynamically efficient. Its sculpted fluidity of form sweeps from nose to tail in one continuous appraisal.
The lower waistrail of the architecture ends at both extremes with just a hint of the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. The contoured front wings are reminiscent of the Silver Shadow. There are no dangerous protuberances anywhere around the bodyshell as introduced by the Silver Spirit. A Rolls Royce motorcar is the result of evolution…not just the whim of a stylist’s pencil –
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
The iconic Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III
The elegant Silver Seraph is the first contemporary Rolls Royce to be powered by a V12 engine since the 1939 Rolls Royce Phantom. BMW hand-built the engine making the Silver Seraph a thoroughbred; it’s highly unique among its predecessors. The potent 5.4 litre 24-valve SOHC V12 engine has a crankshaft running in seven main bearings with 12 counterweights to increase operational smoothness.
This light alloy engine delivers 322 hp @ 5,000 rpm with 490 Nm of peak torque @ 3,900 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in just 6.9 seconds with a top speed in the 140 mph range. The engine is mated to a 5-speed ZF automatic transmission which includes electric gear actuation and adaptive shift management.
1915 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
The Silver Seraph has a sophisticated electronic network masterminded by the Bosch Motronic 5.2.1 engine management system which maintains all functions optimizing overall operational efficiency. The system is equipped with electronic fuel injection and electronic throttle control to ensure effortless transfer of power under all driving conditions. Microprocessors constantly monitor data regarding engine, transmission, steering, brakes, and suspension.
Electronic intelligence enables this highly intuitive saloon to identify different driving styles adapting itself accordingly. For examplen; an accelerometer determines if the vehicle is ascending or descending an incline. It sends data to the transmission to hold a lower gear for acceleration or engine braking as required. Engine torque is decreased at the precise point of gear shifting providing imperceptible progression from one gear to the next.
In-city operation at slower speeds, allow softer earlier upshifts to provide greater fuel economy aiding overall operational refinement. Electronics govern the braking system, steering, automatic stability control, adaptive ride control, and the electronic leveling system. Rolls Royce had finally caught up with the rest of the automotive industry in technology. This made the best car in the world even better…
The Rolls Royce Silver Seraph is a large front engine rear-wheel drive saloon. It has the luxury length of 212.2” and is 76” wide riding upon a long 122.7” wheelbase. It has a double wishbone independent front and rear suspension. Its computer controlled adaptive hydraulic damping system recalibrates itself within 1/100th of a second. Electronic level control adjusts to compensate for uneven pavement regardless of load to keep the Silver Seraph at optimum ride height maintaining its poise; it even adjusts the headlamps to be perfectly aimed at all times.
Its excellent ride quality is due in no small part to a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Automatic Stability Control (ASC) reduces engine torque via sensors located at each wheel to keep this luxury saloon on an even keel regardless of road conditions. This system may be disabled by the driver when performance without intervention is desired.
The rear wheels are set-up to brake simultaneously aiding stability when traction becomes an issue. The power boost braking system is equipped with a 4-channel anti-lock feature and hydraulic servo. Its 4-wheel disc brakes are ventilated to dissipate heat rapidly for safe, fade-free operation at all times.
“A Rolls Royce…is a Rolls Royce.” Luxury is not an afterthought. The Silver Seraph is crafted with a cabin fashioned with the traditional elegance associated with the brand. There’s no bling…no useless bells and whistles…nor anything that would render it redundant in a short time like many so-called luxury cars.
The designer’s mission is to create an ambiance of relaxed control. The Silver Seraph features the formidable Rolls Royce “heads-up” seating. These are the most exclusive seats in the industry. The front seats are placed higher to give an excellent view of the world ahead. The rear seats are also positioned slightly higher than regular luxury cars to provide a greater view.
The cabin is luxuriously embellished continuing the grand Rolls Royce tradition…the meticulous hand-finishing makes the difference. No other ultra-luxury automobile can match the elegance of a Rolls Royce motorcar.
The deeply padded and contoured lounge seats are handcrafted using the finest leather available by Connolly Brothers. These elegant lounge seats are scalloped, curved, and fluted with different degrees of resilience. This provides anatomically correct levels of comfort for the shoulders, back, base of spine and thighs.
The front seats have four-way electrically adjustable operation with four memory positions. The electric rake adjustable steering wheel is equipped with an automatic entry/exit feature. All four seats feature dual stage heating and lumbar support. The aroma of the glove-soft leather, the hand-polished veneers, polished metal, and plush carpets gives an air of exclusivity.
The experienced artisans at Crewe crafted the wood work for the Silver Seraph slowly and patiently, taking days to create. The beautiful unbleached veneers are cut by hand and matched by sight; therefore, the whorls and patterns are unique to each vehicle. The unbleached method enhances the wood’s natural color and grain. Multiple coats of lacquer are applied by hand…air dried, hand-flatted, then polished by hand to an amber glass-like luster. This is the reason why the wood accents in a Rolls Royce gleams with the look of fine home furnishings.
The Silver Seraph is endowed with myriad amenities for comfort and convenience in the formidable Rolls Royce tradition. Front and rear seats are electrically adjustable. All four doors lock automatically when the engine is running and the transmission is shifted to drive. Headlamps are activated when the windscreen wipers are in the “on” mode. The Rolls Royce navigation system uses global positioning satellites with voice commands and a 6.5″ display screen located in the top of the instrument panel. It stows away neatly when not in use.
The boot lid has a power feature which includes a button to automatically open it and a special automatic “pull-down” mode to close it. Its cruise control feature is steering wheel mounted for convenience. The six CD auto-changer not only has sound which rivals a concert hall but also includes a remote control for rear seat passengers. The glass is loaded with a ferrous compound to prevent direct sunlight from heating the cabin.
The fabulous Silver Seraph is designed to take care of itself. Security is paramount with any Rolls Royce. A programmable alarm system will immobilize the engine management system and the starter motor. The transmission locks automatically when it is shifted to “park” and the key is removed from the ignition.
Perimetric sensors monitors the security of the doors, bonnet, and the boot lid; it also includes a “glass-break” feature. The highly sophisticated security system includes central locking and a “dead-lock” feature. A Rolls Royce is the automobile thief’s worse nightmare…
With every Rolls Royce…form must derive from its fitness of purpose. Every detail must also have its function. As only fitting for a Rolls Royce motorcar, all systems obey, anticipate, and assist…but never dictate. The electronic intelligence enables the entire car to react as a single entity. Per Crewe: “To cover ground swiftly, but never feel hurried. To be distanced from the outside world…yet not isolated from it. To appreciate the fine details of craftsmanship and design…without being distracted by them. These are the qualities that you are entitled to expect of a Rolls Royce motorcar…”
Personal commissioning and Rolls Royce are one in the same. This is the reason why no two Rolls Royce motorcars will ever be alike. The highly bespoke nature of the Silver Seraph was extended to a near infinite degree by Park Ward coachbuilders at Rolls Royce. They helped to create a completely individual motorcar for the client.
The basics started with 22 water-based colors and 23 hide colors. The proverbial sky was the limit. Park Ward also offered unique paint and hide colors tailored to personal requirements. Each Silver Seraph motorcar is a very, very special creation…they are the last Rolls Royce saloons to be hand-built at the historic Crewe facility.
The Silver Seraph is a captivating manifestation of Rolls Royce art. It’s an incomparable blend of exemplary craftsmanship, advanced technology, and elegant refinement. From a long line of distinguished predecessors, the Silver Seraph combined the latest technical thinking with legendary Rolls Royce principles resulting in a strikingly individual motorcar of distinction. The Silver Seraph inherits the traditional painstaking attention to the tiniest details continuing the relentless pursuit for perfection by the dedicated artisans at Crewe. Its timeless beauty will challenge the years gracefully…as with all Rolls Royce motorcars.
The magnificence of this elite Flagship is augmented by its V12 engine which moves it with aplomb. The Silver Seraph is the last four-door saloon to motor out of Crewe ending an illustrious heritage of the traditional handcrafted Roll Royce motorcar. Only 1,570 were built…170 of which are dubbed “The last of the line” with exclusive red Rolls Royce badging to commemorate this historic end of a legend. The exclusivity and supremacy of the Rolls Royce motorcars built at Crewe can never…ever… be replicated. They take their place in automotive history among famous Rolls Royce superlatives –
Special thanks go out to Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum: http://www.parkwardmotors.com and Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars: http://www.schmitt.com for the use of these beautiful photographs. For all of your classic car needs whether it be sales or service, I highly recommend these two. They are among the finest caretakers in the industry. Tell them Greg Morgan sent you!
Here’s a photo tribute to the Crewe-built Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III, the epitome of elegance
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III Mulliner Park Ward drophead coupé
1973 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI drophead coupé by Pietro Frua
The opulent Rolls Royce Silver Wraith II saloon
The rare Bentley Mulsanne “L” long wheelbase saloon
The rare 1967 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow long wheelbase saloon
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The Rolls Royce Silver Seraph saloon is NotoriousLuxury