Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

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Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
1972 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (North America)
ManufacturerRolls-Royce Ltd (defunct 1973)
Rolls-Royce Motors
Parent companyVickers plc
Also calledSilver Wraith II
AssemblyCrewe, England
PredecessorSilver Cloud III
SuccessorSilver Spirit
Body style(s)4-door saloon
2-door saloon
2-door cabriolet
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)6230 cc Rolls-Royce V8 (1965 - 1970)
6750 cc Rolls-Royce V8 (1970 - 1980)
Transmission(s)4 speed automatic
(1965 - 1970)
3 speed automatic
(1970 - 1980)
Wheelbase119.5 in (3035 mm) [1]
Length203.5 in (5169 mm)
Width71 in (1803 mm)
Height59.75 in (1518 mm)
Curb weight4,648 lb (2,108 kg)
Fuel capacity24 imp gal (109 L; 29 US gal)
RelatedBentley T-series
ManualsService Manual
File:'69 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (Hudson).JPG
1969 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (North America)
1972 Silver Shadow, interior view
File:Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 4-Door Saloon 1974.jpg
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 4-Door Saloon 1974
File:Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith II (Orange Julep).JPG
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith II (North America)
File:'75 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (Hudson).JPG
1975 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (North America)

The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is a luxury car produced in Great Britain in various forms from 1965 to 1980. The car was the manufacturer's response to claims that it was falling behind the times, and had lost contact with modern developments. It was the first Rolls-Royce to use a monocoque chassis, and to date has the largest production volume of any Rolls-Royce.


Following in the manufacturer's tradition of building luxury vehicles, the standard wheelbase Silver Shadow measured 5.17 metres, or more accurately, 17.00 feet, in length, weighed 4,700 pounds, and had a base price of 19,700 dollars in the first year of production.

The Silver Shadow was produced from 1965 to 1976, and the Silver Shadow II from 1977 to 1980.

Design and engineering

The design was a major departure from its predecessor, the Silver Cloud. This was the first single bow Rolls-Royce, in contrast to its predecessors' double bow designs. The cars exterior design was by Rolls-Royce's chief designer, John Polwhele Blatchley. Aside from a more modern appearance, the Silver Shadow introduced many new features such as disc rather than drum brakes, monocoque construction, and independent rear suspension, rather than the outdated live axle design of previous cars.

The Shadow featured a 172 hp (128 kW) 6.2 L V8 from 1965 to 1969, and a 189 hp (141 kW) 6.75 L V8 from 1970 to 1980. Both powerplants were coupled to a General Motors-sourced Turbo Hydramatic 400 transmission, except on pre-1970 right-hand-drive models, which used the same 4-speed automatic gearbox as the Silver Cloud (also sourced from GM).

The car's most innovative feature was a high-pressure hydraulic system licensed from Citroën, with dual-circuit braking and hydraulic self-levelling suspension. At first, both the front and rear of the car were controlled by the leveling system; the front levelling was deleted in 1969 as it had been determined that the rear levelling did almost all the work. Rolls-Royce achieved a high degree of ride quality with this arrangement.


Silver Shadow II

In 1977, the model was renamed the Silver Shadow II in recognition of several major changes, most notably rack and pinion steering; modifications to the front suspension improved handling markedly.

Externally, the bumpers were changed from chrome to alloy and rubber starting with the late 1976 Shadows.In 1979 a limited number of Silver Shadow II cars were made to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the company and were fitted with Red RR badges.

Long wheelbase variant

A long wheelbase variant, some 4 inches longer to provide additional rear seat legroom, was available from 1969. Some long wheelbase models were fitted with a privacy glass divider and are now highly sought-after by collectors.

Silver Wraith II

Initially, the long wheelbase model did not have a separate name, but in 1977, with the introduction of the Silver Shadow II, the longer car was dubbed the Silver Wraith II.

The Wraith II is identified by all of alterations found on the Silver Shadow II and additionally an Everflex covered roof (also available as an option on the Silver Shadow II), a smaller rear opera-style window(some customers deleted the smaller back window: for example Jo Bamford of JCB) and different wheel covers. Some Silver Wraith IIs were also fitted with electric divisions which took up the extra four inches of leg room in the rear. Vehicles fitted with the division are now considered highly desirable.

Corniche and Camargue

A two-door fixed-head coupe or FHC model was introduced in 1965, (there are two different versions for this model, the Mulliner Park Ward and the very rare James Young version) followed by a convertible in 1967. In 1971 these cars were given the separate identity of Corniche, and eventually went on to outlive the Shadow with production lasting until 1982 for the coupe and 1996 for the convertible.

Another coupe variant on the Shadow platform was the Camargue, with bodywork designed by the Italian firm Pininfarina, and production running from 1975 to 1986. The Camargue had the distinction of being the most expensive Rolls-Royce, with a base price even higher than the Phantom VI limousine.

Bentley models

A Bentley version of the Shadow, known as the Bentley T (and Bentley T II from 1977), was also made. It was mechanically identical and differed only in the badging and design of the radiator shell.

The long wheelbase version of the Bentley T did not have a separate identity and was simply called T long wheelbase or T II long wheelbase.

All two-door cars were also available as Bentleys, however, only one Bentley Camargue was ever produced.

Shadow-based Phantom VII

Rolls-Royce considered offering a Phantom VII model, based on the Silver Shadow, but it ultimately didn't happen. The proposed car never made it beyond the drawing board and no prototypes were built.[2]

Production statistics

The Silver Shadow was the most successful model ever produced by Rolls-Royce, with a total of more than 38,000 cars built (including all editions and Bentley variants); a remarkable number for such an expensive automobile. In comparison, its predecessor had a production run of 15,362 cars between 1955 and 1966.

Model Rolls-Royce Bentley
Shadow I,
16,717 1,703
Shadow I long wheelbase,
T I long wheelbase
2,776 9
Shadow II,
8,425 558
Wraith II,
T II long wheelbase
2,145 10
Coupe FHC 607 115
Coupe Convertible 505 41
Corniche FHC 1,108 63
Corniche Convertible 3,239 77
Camargue 525 1

Sources and further reading

  1. Cardew, Basil (1966). Daily Express Review of the 1966 Motor Show. London: Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd.