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Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow - Proudly British, Effortlessly International

July 14, 2016

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow - Proudly British, Effortlessly International

Few vehicles can muster an intensity of emotion and devotion to match the Rolls-Royce's Silver Shadow. As a symbol of delicate elegance and grand magnificence. they effortlessly garner respect wherever they may go.

For car enthusiasts, the prestigious British craftsmanship is irresistible. Its powerful 6L V8 engine purrs warmly, but capable of roaring up to 120mph. It provided unparalleled comfort for its era, with both superb road handling and a rich leather interior teeming with luxurious detail. Cutting-edge vehicle technology including independent rear suspension and disc brakes sets it apart from its contemporaries.

Yet as a timeless British classic, it exudes an intoxicating charm that is universally appreciated. It soon rose to become a symbol of glamour, of which even Hollywood starlets would uncurl their high-heeled legs as they graciously arrived on the red carpet.

Feted by the glitterati, businessmen, politicos, the rich and the famous, the Silver Shadow was truly the car of its time.

The Spirit of Ecstasy - Rolls-Royce Legend

One of the defining features of the Rolls-Royce is the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, better known as the Silver Lady. This unique ornament elegantly adorns the bonnet of all Rolls-Royce cars, from classics to moderns. 

Although unknown to many, there's a tragic love story surrounding the prestigious symbol. The designer’s model for the mascot was one elegant, yet impoverished beauty, Emily Thornton. She was embroiled in a clandestine love affair with the married Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, an early motoring pioneer.

Their love was kept from all but their closest circle, but ended in tragedy as the ship they were sailing was devastatingly torpedoed. Emily perished immediately, whereas the Baron was found floating, distraught and alone a few days later. A sad tale indeed, but it marked the beginning of the Rolls-Royce legend nonetheless.

A Swinging 60’s Icon From Rolls-Royce

The Silver Shadow legacy began in 1965, as a revitalizing rework of its noble predecessor the Silver Cloud. It was initially going to be named the “Silver Mist”, until an eagle-eye noticed “mist” meant “rubbish” in German which wouldn’t have been an auspicious start!

As it was, the Silver Shadow was an immediate hit and crowds of the wealthy and upper-class flocked to place orders. Rolls Royce entered mass production, but cleverly, they managed to retain its sense of rarity and otherworldliness.

Owning a Silver Shadow soon became the mark of truly “making it”. The flurry of famous Silver Shadow owners included Andy Warhol, a man so inextricably linked with the zeitgeist of the decade. Then there was Vidal Sassoon, very much the modern man about town of his time.

This cascade of famous endorsers fanned the flames of the Silver Shadow’s popularity all the more. The Diamond Decades were exciting times for Britain and Rolls-Royce played its part in it.

Silver Shadow’s Era Ends but the Love Goes On

The Silver Shadow remained in production in various guises until 1980. However, changing of tastes and tightening safety standards finally forced the hand of Rolls Royce to conclude this sublime model.

Since then, the Silver Shadow has far from fallen into obscurity, instead going from strength to strength. Even today, this sumptuous model continues to be held in incredibly high regard as an "ultimate classic".

Thanks to Rolls-Royce’s prolific production schedule, there are fortunately still plenty of Silver Shadows available on the resale market. The build quality of these classic luxury vehicles is second to none; most have stood the test of time very well. Silver Shadow prices are also becoming more accessible, so a slice of those golden years may now be within your grasp.

Whether behind the wheel or travelling as a passenger in a Silver Shadow, it’s an unforgettable experience. More than three decades since the last car rolled off the production line, it still demands attention, draws eyes and manages to make you feel pretty special along the way.

Photos Source: RM Auctions
Photos Credit: FLUID IMAGES and Tom Wood





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