A gorgeous 1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II with a story to tell
Search Driven for Rolls-Royce for sale
Tell us about your 1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II.
In 2013 I started looking for a Rolls-Royce, preferably around the 1970s age. After an impatient search I bought a 1993 Bentley, which was a sportier car, made by Rolls-Royce at that time. But I still wanted a Rolls-Royce with the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot.
I found this 1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II for sale in Christchurch. It appeared in good order, but had been idle for 10 years — not good for a car with complex hydraulic systems. I flew to Christchurch from Hamilton, where I was living at the time, with my 6-year-old daughter in tow.
After a brief test drive, I bought the car and then drove to Hamilton. Indeed it did need some attention: I spent around $4000, mainly on its brakes, due to it having sat idle for so long.
What is special about these luxury saloons?
The cars stand out, everyone recognises their unique grille and mascot, which is still used although a bit more stylised in the cars now made by BMW. The truly UK-built cars, hand-assembled in low numbers, taking around three months to make each car, are special. They cost as much as an average house in Auckland when new, but are affordable second-hand. But they need to be driven regularly, and well-maintained. I have driven this car on many trips of four hours or more, and you hardly even know you’ve been sitting down when you get to your destination. They are a bit like driving a luxury sofa around.
Tell us about the interior.
All upholstery is leather which comes from parts of Scandinavia where there are few insects and no barbed wire fences, so the leather surface is as good as it gets. They have quality Wilton carpets, adjustable footrests in the generous rear of the car, and all the fascia is walnut veneer with metal control knobs and switches.
Is it expensive to run?
Very expensive! It has a 6.75L V8, designed for cruising, not speed, with little thought given to petrol consumption. It runs best on 98 octane, so can cost as much as 50c/km driving around town. The tank costs about $200 to fill from empty and will get you from Rotorua to Wellington on a tank.
How much work have you done?
I have not had to do much serious work over the six years I have been its keeper — a couple of radiator leaks, a power steering pump needing replacing, and a few other small matters. The car has travelled over 200,000km from new.
Do you enjoy other luxuries?
The only other luxury item I aspired to from a young age (I think I wanted a Rolls-Royce from about age 8, and I am 54 now) was a Rolex watch. I bought a new one while at a conference in Hong Kong, and it is on my wrist every day.
Does it fit your personality?
I hope not! I think I am a down-to-earth, average person. I only bought my first suit earlier this year for a black tie dinner. I am a jeans and polo shirt guy, even at work.
How often do you drive it?
I try to drive it every three weeks. I drive it most years to events at Whangamata and Auckland, and to Wellington. I’d drive it more often if fuel was cheaper!
Do you drive differently when you’re in a Rolls-Royce?
You definitely behave well on the road; you are conspicuous, especially in an older car, but people always let you in to traffic.
What do you always keep in your Rolls-Royce?
Just the factory tool kit and manual, and a home-made coffee cup holder, as they weren’t standard in 1978.
Who else drives it?
My wife does not like driving it, she thinks it’s too big, but it is smaller than a modern ute. My oldest son is 13, and he wants to learn and do his driving test in it when he is 16. I have a few other collector cars, including a 1977 Mercedes-Benz with a soft top, and my wife drives that regularly. She just does not like the bigger cars, except for our Bentley, which she likes, possibly because it is very fast.
If you had to describe the Rolls-Royce as a well-known person?
Winston Churchill. They are both British, a bit posh and not to everyone’s taste?
What was your first car?
A 1967 Ford Cortina Mk2, which I sold and bought an Alfa Romeo. That led to owning many Alfa Romeos. I regret selling two of the Alfas, that first one, a 1974 GTV 2000 couple, and later a 1976 Spider 2000 I had for more than 12 years. Since buying the 1993 Bentley, the 1977 Mercedes-Benz and this 1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I have added a few more, and I won’t sell them. The additions are a 1929 Essex Super Six, a 1959 Bedford J1 truck, an early 1968 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and a 1933 Rolls-Royce 20/25 limousine. The latter two have been challenges to own, with servicing issues, so I have slowed a bit on adding to the garage (other than a 1975 Rolls-Royce which was in a poor state.)
Your dream car?
Probably an unobtainable Alfa Romeo, such as a Stradale from the 1960s, or an obtainable, but beyond-my-means Rolls-Royce, such as a 1980s Camargue or a early 1960s Silver Cloud coupe with “Chinese eye” headlights.