It never ceases to amaze me how affordable the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is. For those who don’t know, the Silver Shadow is the model with the largest production volume in the brand’s history. In other words, Rolls built more Silver Shadows than any other model ever. It ran from 1965 to 1980 (if you count the Silver Shadow II, which we are) and a little over 30,000 of them were built.
Okay, so it’s an old Rolls-Royce sedan. So what? Well, it’s become an unbelievable luxury car bargain on the used market, that’s what. As of this writing, there are 32 examples of the Silver Shadow on Classics on Autotrader and you might be blown away by the prices. A lot of these things have asking prices of less than $20,000, some are under $15,000, and the cleanest ones you can buy are still less than $40,000.
That means if you’re in the market for a car, you’re forced to ask yourself: Would I rather have a new Honda Civic or a used Rolls-Royce? After a little bit of looking around at listings for this Rolls, it seems insane to spend $15,000 to $40,000 on any vehicle that isn’t a Silver Shadow. But before you get too excited like I currently am, let’s look at some of the quirks and features, if you will, involved with living with a 40-year-old Rolls.
Every Silver Shadow is powered by a Rolls-Royce-Bentley L-Series V8 engine — a variation of which is still in production to this day and powers the Bentley Mulsanne. Linked to that engine is my favorite quirk of the Silver Shadow: a General Motors transmission. That’s right, this Rolls Royce used a GM Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission which also saw duty in countless GM cars and trucks, the Humvee, the Ferrari 400, some Jaguars, some Jeeps and many more.
The Silver Shadow in many ways brought Rolls-Royce into the modern automotive arena at the time with advancements like a unibody design, disc brakes and independent rear suspension. It also had a high-pressure hydropneumatic suspension system borrowed from Citroën. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how much I would trust an old French hydropneumatic suspension system in an old British car. I don’t know if there are a lot of known problems with this specific suspension setup, but it sure sounds like something I wouldn’t want to live with. However, my understanding is that it does make for outstanding ride quality when it’s working properly.
The Silver Shadow evolved into the Silver Shadow II starting in 1977, for the last few years of the car’s production. Like many cars in the 1970s, it got ugly rubber bumpers due to safety regulations — but it also got a lot of good things, including rack and pinion steering and an update to the front suspension that improved the handling. If you want a more modern driving feel, you’ll want a Silver Shadow II — but if you’re more interested in classic British styling, you’ll probably like the original car more.
So there aren’t really any glaring reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. However, any time you buy a classic car, you’re buying a project car in one way or another — and it’s always going to need more love than a modern car. Add the fact that it’s an old British luxury car and it becomes more of a gamble. If you’re not planning on driving it often, a Silver Shadow would be quite a cool luxury car to add to a collection. Find a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow for sale