The quality remains tangible throughout the car and with this one showing just 29,762 original miles, it remains extremely well preserved.
This 1977 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II is what you get when you give aircraft engineers an unlimited budget and tell them to build the finest motorcar in the world. While there are certainly jokes to be made about how ridiculously complex and over-built these cars are, the truth is that they do indeed simply work better. Looking at engine components, there are ten fasteners where GM would have made do with three. The braking system uses multiple hydraulic pumps, pressurized nitrogen, and two calipers on the front brake rotors, just like an airplane. And the quality of the interior is beyond reproach. With a Rolls-Royce, you always get your money’s worth.
That remains especially true today, where you can own this 1977 Silver Shadow II for about 10% of its original sticker price (adjusted for 2017 dollars). The quality remains tangible throughout the car and with this one showing just 29,762 original miles, it remains extremely well preserved. It was originally purchased by an elderly lady here in Cleveland and she used it until after her passing a few years ago and, perhaps most significantly, never used it in the winter as she spent the snowy months down in Florida, so the car is quite clean. It was maintained from day one by authorized Rolls-Royce dealers, first Qua and later Crestmont, and upon her passing it was Crestmont that acquired the car from her estate. They serviced the car and sold it to only its second owner who enjoyed it for a few years, driving it an additional 5000 miles or so in that time.
As such, it’s still in very good overall condition, particularly for a car that has just celebrated its 40th birthday, a testament to Rolls-Royce quality. The silver paint polishes up nicely with a gentle shine that’s indicative of old, hand-rubbed finishes and all four doors close with the kind of solidity that you probably haven’t experienced before. Panel gaps are where the magicians at Crewe set them four decades ago and the hood pivots forward for excellent access to the mechanicals. There’s plenty of brightwork on the Shadow, not the least of which is the towering Rolls-Royce grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, perhaps the most universally-recognized symbols of wealth and quality in the world. There’s a lovely strip of bright trim along the flanks, and that is highlighted by a red pinstripe, which is undoubtedly original, as it shows some lightly faded areas where it’s been polished just a little too much. The big rubber bumpers that the US government insisted the cars wear are in excellent shape with no cracking or UV damage and there’s a light tint on the windows that was reportedly to help keep it chilly for the first owner, who apparently liked her A/C set on “meat locker.”
Speaking of the interior, it’s full of beautiful burgundy hides done in Connolly leather that is still fragrant even after all these years. The lower cushions on the front seats appear to have been replaced in the not-too-distant past and the match is quite good—the flash used in our photos magnifies the difference beyond what you will see with the naked eye. This car was also ordered with the extraordinarily plush lambskin floor rugs and dark burled walnut dash, which make it feel especially opulent. It still carries its original two-spoke steering wheel, which seems incredibly simple compared to the rest of the car, but it’s correct and offers fingertip control of the big Rolls. Simple Jaeger instruments monitor all the engine’s vitals, including a button that switches the fuel level gauge to an oil level gauge. The only notable change is that the original 8-track was removed and a Panasonic AM/FM/CD stereo head unit was installed in its place at the bottom of the center stack. The original AM/FM radio remains in place, albeit deactivated, but the instrument panel retains a proper look. Everything inside the car is designed to operated with just your fingertips, from the steering to the electric selector for the transmission to the precise-feeling switches for the windows, locks, and seats. Rear seat occupants are treated to expansive leg room and their own foot rests under the front seats, as well as vanities in the sail panels and a fold-down armrest. If you can’t get comfortable here, then there is likely no car that will satisfy you. There’s also a massive trunk (or boot, in the traditional parlance) which is upholstered to match the interior and includes compartments for the spare tire, tools, and battery, all tucked out of sight.
Mechanically, this Rolls uses the same six-and-three-quarter litre OHV V8 engine that has been in place under Rolls-Royce bonnets since the ‘50s and is still in use today. If that isn’t a testament to its quality and design, I can’t imagine what would be. Horsepower is “adequate” and we are extremely impressed by how quickly and easily this one starts, even after sitting for a few days. One gentle press of the throttle to set the choke and then turn the key. The big V8 springs to life instantly—so quickly that you may not even realize that it’s running, and it idles smoothly and whisper-quiet, even when it’s cold. There are many signs of recent maintenance under the hood, including a switch to R134a refrigerant for the Frigidarie A/C system and recently rebuilt carburetors. The critical braking system, which will deliver full power assist even without the engine running, is fully operational and the nitrogen-filled spheres that manage the system are intact and functioning properly. Of course, everything was standard equipment, including rack-and-pinion steering that lends a bit more precision to the Rolls’s on-road performance, as well as the massively powerful 4-wheel disc brakes.
As many of you may know, Rolls-Royce used a GM TH400 3-speed automatic transmission in the Silver Ghost, the only automatic transmission at the time that could withstand the big V8’s torque. The good news is that it’s shockingly easy to maintain and parts are inexpensive, but the smoothness and good manners never betray its humble origins. The underside of the car, while showing the usual signs of use, is in excellent order and offers more proof that this car was not used extensively in winter weather. It appears that even the original exhaust system is still in place, complete with protective shields and multiple mufflers for just the right sound. There’s also evidence of recent brake service work, including new proportioning valves and lines, and it sits on a recent set of 235/70/15 whitewall radials with traditional Rolls-Royce hubcaps.
This is an incredible amount of luxury car for the money. It takes a dedicated owner to maintain a car like this in peak condition, but the rewards are worth the experience. Nothing else we’ve ever driven cuts through traffic like a big Rolls-Royce and the feeling of opulence and precision from behind the wheel really is unmatched by anything else. These cars feel special from behind the wheel and everyone who sees such a machine will assume that the driver is at the top of his game. Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone just how affordable this car really is. Call today!