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The Silver Shadow, and its mechanically identical twin the Bentley T, were manufactured from 1965 to 1980 as a direct challenge to claims that the manufacturer was no longer responsive to modern automobile customers. The Silver Shadow line went on to become the best selling model of Rolls-Royce vehicles, spawning a line of 2-door and 4-door saloons as well as a convertible that have become classics.

The Silver Shadow was the successor of the Silver Cloud III, and was almost named the "Silver Mist" until the marketers realized that "mist" translated in German was the word for manure or quite literally, crap. Reconsidering the name avoided a major marketing embarrassment.

The Silver Shadow was the first model to use a monocoque construction. The wheelbase covered 17 ft and it weighed in at 4,700 pounds. The asking price the first year of production was US $19,700.

To distinguish the new line of cars, Rolls-Royce's chief engineer, John Polwhele Blatchley, fashioned the Silver Shadow to have a single bow design that reduced the width and length of the car while increasing space for passengers and their luggage. To further modernize the line, disc brakes and independent rear suspension were integrated and a 172 hp, 6.2 L V8 engine was included in the original models. By 1970, the engines were uprated to a 189 hp 6.75 L V8. By far the most innovative aspect was the improved ride quality created by integrating the Citroen high-pressure hydraulic system that provided front and rear leveling abilities and put the Silver Shadow into a class above. Actually, the front leveling was disabled in models after 1969 once it was determined that the rear levelers were doing all the work and the front ones were redundant.

In 1977 the craftsman at Rolls-Royce introduce the Silver Shadow II, which shifted the model to rack and pinion steering and made modifications to the front suspension to improve handling and performance. There was also a variant of the Silver Shadow II that offered a longer wheelbase, extending it four inches and offering a privacy glass divider between the occupant and the driver. This type of model has become a choice collectors item.

The longer version of the original Silver Shadow did not have a separate name, but once the Silver Shadow II was introduced, it began to be referred to as the Silver Wraith II, which was identified by the addition of the Everflex covered roof, the small opera-style rear window and unique wheel covers. There were even some versions that came fitted with an electrical divisions box (which took up 4 inches of leg room) and have also become highly prized by collectors.

In 1966, Rolls-Royce introduced two-door, fixed head coupe models, quickly followed by a convertible version released in 1967. Originally under the Silver Shadow moniker, the sports models were available in two different styles, the extremely rare James Young version and the more common Milliner Park Ward model. By 1971, this line of cars was distinguished from the Silver Shadow line and became referred to as the Corniche, and this model actually stayed in production until 1982, two years after the Silver Shadow was retired.

From 1975 to 1986, there was yet another variant to the Silver Shadow line, which become the most expensive Rolls-Royce manufactured until that time, called the Camargue. The body was designed by Paolo Martin from the Italian firm Pinifarnia, making it the first post-war model that was not designed in-house.

There was quite a bit of controversy when the Carmargue was released and the New York Times reported that the car was priced significantly more in the United States than in Britain. The reason given for the discrepancy in prices arose from complying with the safety and pollution standards in the US for a relatively small number of cars (about 30 per year). The coupe featured a split-level climate control system that was revolutionary for its time. It was also the first Rolls-Royce vehicle that was designed to conform to metric dimensions. During eleven years of production, five hundred and thirty Rolls-Royce Camargues were sold, as well as a special order Bentley Carmargue.

Today, this best-selling Rolls-Royce of all time (sales of 38,624 for all variations combined) is the quintessential Rolls-Royce for many baby-boomers and Gen-Xers. While the Silver Shadow/II and Bentley T have suffered considerable depreciation in value and many have been left to languish without proper maintenance, well-kept models should see considerable appreciation in coming decades as their numbers shrink and their most admiring demographic ages.
 

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Just one quick note, the Camargue's bodywork/coachwork was designed to metric standards, but the mechanical underpinnings of the car are straight out of the Shadow series.

Camargues are probably the only cars from RR that have fasteners from all of the past and present standard measurement systems that had been in place up to and including that time.
 

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Silver Shadow

Nice background on the Shadow. I have posted a small article on this model on my website (enthusiast site for lovers of old British cars) called:

www.OldLeatherandChrome.com

You may want to take a look at it, and I would appreciate any feedback, including checking for any inaccuracies (I try my best). My post is a take on the Shadow from a cultural and sociological perspective, and its place in the RR lineup. It's the post with a picture of Bill Allen (Corniche designer) standing in front of a Corniche.
 

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Anyone who is really interested in the Silver Shadow & its derivatives and their history really must take the time to thoroughly look through Marinus Rijkers' Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow website, available in English or Dutch.

It is exhaustively researched. The animated descriptions of the hydraulics system are worth their weight in gold!
 

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In 1966, Rolls-Royce introduced two-door, fixed head coupe models, quickly followed by a convertible version released in 1967. Originally under the Silver Shadow moniker, the sports models were available in two different styles, the extremely rare James Young version and the more common Milliner Park Ward model. By 1971, this line of cars was distinguished from the Silver Shadow line and became referred to as the Corniche, and this model actually stayed in production until 1982, two years after the Silver Shadow was retired.

Just one point regarding the corniche, the convertible was still in production into the 90's, fixed head coupe possibily stopped production in '82
 

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Thanks for the tip on the Marinus Rijkers' site. It is great. So many great pictures of Shadows and well organized.
 

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Hi,


I have recently be offered a SS1 1965-8 (not quite sure of year) 4 door. Now the owner has told me that this car has MPW monogrammed carpets and MPW monogrammed dashboard. I am confused as I was led to believe that MPW only built 2 doors? is this true? could some one have added this at a later date? ( it also has picnic tables if that is any use?


Can any one help?


Dan
 
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