Saturday, April 26, 2014

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1977 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II

The Silver Shadow is still on my short list of favorite Rolls-Royce models. Really, it is a short list. Rolls hasn't made many cars that personally interest me in their illustrious 100-plus year history. Theirs is a reputation for quality, luxury, smoothness and silence. They build cars to a standard, not a price, and as a result the price is quite high - at least when new from the factory. Old Rollers are quite a bit cheaper.

The Silver Shadow is the most common of all Rolls-Royces, with a fifteen-year production run and perennial popularity. How did they do it? Licensed components, for one. GM built a pretty good automatic transmission, and Citro├źn built a pretty good hydraulic system with self-leveling suspension. The craftsmen from Crewe did the rest, with a lazy 6.75 liter V8, independent rear suspension, disc brakes and a handcrafted wood and leather interior. The 1977 Series II cars received rack and pinion steering and a better-handling suspension than prior models. A total of 8,425 Silver Shadow IIs were built between 1977 and 1980.

Most Rolls owners keep their cars clean and well-maintained. That's just a given. You don't want to be the only person in town with a Rolls-Royce and have it be a rusted-out hoopty you picked up for a song at the auto auction, that smokes and has parts falling off. (I saw a Corniche at the local auto auction preview once; someone stole the grille off of it.) This car is a fine example of a first-year Series II, finished in a nice pearl white with an beige Everflex roof. White with beige roof was the most popular color combination on the Silver Shadow. It's a very straight and pretty car embodying all the best qualities of the Shadow except the early models' small chrome bumpers. These cars are quite affordable even in good condition, and even the later models have classic looks and a luxury pedigree. Would I own one? Probably not. I'd be scared to pay for the maintenance services. But they sure do look good.

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