1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Saloon
It’s hard to believe the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, with Crewe’s first ‘modern’ car unveiled at the Paris Salon in 1965. Employing unitary construction for the first time, the Silver Shadow’s elegant shape, styled by John Blatchley’s talented team, has stood the test of time remarkably well. The Silver Shadow broke new ground for the Crewe Company in a number of key areas, from the sophisticated fully independent suspension with an advanced self-levelling system to four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. The only major components carried over from the Silver Cloud III were the excellent all-aluminium 6.2-litre V8 and four-speed automatic transmission with fluid flywheel, the latter replaced by GM’s excellent 400 three-speed box in October 1968 while the engine was enlarged to 6.75-litres the following year. Although no power output was ever divulged by the company, merely described as ‘adequate’, the Silver Shadow’s superior aerodynamics meant the car was perfectly happy cruising the motorway at speeds of up to 200 km/h. Inside, the Silver Shadow combined traditional materials and Old World craftsmanship with modern fittings like electric windows. 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. Each Silver Shadow employed 20 electric motors, powering everything from the radio antenna to adjusting the individual front seats. Air conditioning remained an option (except in America where it was made standard), but a clever heating and ventilation system ensured occupants were kept comfortable at all times, while safety was another key improvement and seat belts became standard equipment. Build quality on the Silver Shadow remained unsurpassed, each taking no less than 12 weeks to build from start to finish. Another important breakthrough for Rolls-Royce saw the company return a profit on a new model for the first time in 50 years and thanks to strong demand around the world, no less than 16,717 built (along with a smaller number of Bentley T-Series variants) before the revised Shadow II was launched in 1977.