1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II Saloon
Launched at the 1965 Paris Salon, the Silver Shadow heralded a new era for Rolls-Royce, employing unitary construction for the first time, with elegant, modern styling by John Blatchley’s team. In fact, the Silver Shadow saw numerous firsts for the Crewe Company, gaining fully independent suspension with an advanced self-leveling system and ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels. The only major components carried over from the Silver Cloud III were the excellent all-aluminium 6.2-litre V8 and Rolls-Royce’s own four-speed automatic transmission with fluid flywheel, the latter was replaced by GM’s excellent 400 three-speed unit in October 1968. The Silver Shadow’s cabin was a successful marriage of traditional materials and British craftsmanship with modern luxury equipment, including power windows and electrically adjustable front seats. No less than eight individual Connolly hides were used to trim the interior of each car and the standard of finish on the upholstery, rich Wilton carpets and burr walnut veneers was impeccable. Another breakthrough for Rolls-Royce was the fact that the Silver Shadow was the first model in 50 years to turn a profit and production was relatively high, with no less than 16,717 built (along with a smaller number of Bentley T-Series variants) before the revised Shadow II was launched in 1976, with deliveries beginning in February the following year. The updated model incorporated a host of refinements, including a new facia, still in walnut burr veneer but with new gauges, while the Camargue’s advanced split-level air conditioning was another big improvement. Power assisted steering was adopted, with a smaller steering wheel and revised front suspension geometry meant less body roll. A twin exhaust system and SU’s latest HIF7 carburettors boosted the power output whilst reducing fuel consumption and there was an additional cooling fan in front of the radiator. External changes were kept to a minimum: new deformable bumpers with rubber inserts helped avoid low speed damage and a front air dam improved high speed stability. Rolls-Royce built 8425 Shadow IIs, plus a further 2135 long-wheelbase Silver Wraith II variants and 568 the equivalent Bentley T2 and today they are regarded as the most refined and best Shadows to live with day to day.