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Car of the Month - April  2001
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I, 1975, #SRX21961

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I

The first Rolls-Royce from the post-war period incorporating radically new features was the Silver Shadow I. The previous model Silver Cloud III certainly had been a car of truly conservative design with a separate chassis, drum brakes and rigid rear axle. When in 1965 the Silver Shadow I was launched the new model featured a monocoque chassis, all-independent self-leveling suspension and disc brakes all-round. Numerous other details did show that most advanced ideas had found their way into this car's design, too.

As a result of Rolls-Royce's traditional process of continual improvement the model underwent many modifications. Some of these perhaps appear insignificant to a casual observer. Important changes were in 1968 to substitute the old 4-speed Hydramatic gearbox by the GM400 gearbox with 3 speeds (this one had been fitted previously on cars for certain export markets, e.g. the USA) and in 1969 refrigerated air-conditioning was adopted as standard. Air-conditioning had been an option previously. The engine's capacity was increased from 6.25 to 6.75 litter in 1970 and thus not only low-speed torque was improved but maximum speed as well. Road holding was on a par with the more powerful engine because radials had substituted the old cross-ply tyres having been fitted hitherto. American owners were delighted with the soft springing of the Silver Shadow whereas owners in other markets were less enthusiastic. Hence Rolls-Royce decided for the home market and Europe on a stiffened suspension providing a firmer ride. It is little known that for those countries where road surfaces were notably rugged "colonial suspension" constituted an even firmer suspension setting...

Even the younger Silver Shadow I motor cars are now approaching an age of some 25 years. Surprisingly perhaps: there are not many discussions among enthusiasts, whether or not the early versions are less desirable than the later ones. Shadows from the start of the production period are neither considered to be better nor worse than those from later years. They are different, in that the technical standard from a certain time is reflected - the standard as acceptable for a Rolls-Royce motor car that is. So it is depending on the demands of the connoisseur what features on a Silver Shadow are considered to be of vital importance. No doubt the first modern Rolls-Royce of the post-war period has gained the status of a true classic car.

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