1978 ROLLS-ROYCE Shadow II

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1978 ROLLS-ROYCE Shadow II


Narrower and shorter than the Silver Cloud it supplanted, the Silver Shadow was the first Rolls-Royce to feature a monocoque bodyshell, disc brakes and independent suspension. But, before the traditionalists close this browser tab to find out where they can watch some VSCC racing this weekend, we should remind you that the Silver Shadow was still largely hand built at the time, something that isn’t the case now that RR merely assemble cars from crates stamped ‘BMW 7-series’…

Hydropneumatically suspended using Citroen’s engineering genius, the Silver Shadow introduced the world to the idea that luxury should neither be heard nor felt. In this it succeeded, and a properly maintained example still stuns you with its almost complete lack of NVH, even today. A Tesla might have it beaten, but a modern Royce certainly won’t.

You see, the sort of Rolls-Royce that built the company’s reputation wasn’t about offering vulgar finishes, no matter how beautifully they might be applied. It was about creating cars using the finest engineering standards that man could achieve, and then cloaking it in a body that drew admiring glances rather than attention; no-one has ever posted a video of a Silver Shadow wafting through London, which is exactly as it should be.

The Vehicle

First registered in October 1978, this wonderful Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II has been in the same titled hands for the past 38 years. Only the car’s third owner, she’s barely used it in that time either, racking up a total of just 45,000 miles although many of those miles involved transporting royalty and heads of state, including *redacted* and *redacted*.

As a Silver Shadow II, it benefits from rack-and-pinion steering and modified front suspension, both of which contribute to the car’s improved handling. Presenting very well, this is a Shadow that’s as much of a driver’s car as it is a visual treat. Indeed, while its owner employed a chauffeur for the times when the Silver Shadow was being used for ‘official’ business, she tells us that she drove it herself whenever she could.

Finished in Acrylic White (none of your Twilight Purple or Tuscan Sun nonsense from RR back then…) with a black leather interior, it’s being offered with no reserve, so will sell from the very first bid.

On the Outside

While some modern Rolls-Royce models are astonishingly vulgar, the Silver Shadow whispers Old Money like little else. Upright and boxy, its steadfast refusal to bow to the whims and vagaries of transient trends means it has never, and likely never will, go out of fashion.

Not that it’s a dull design because nothing could be further from the truth. The huge hand-formed chrome radiator grille is as much a statement of intent as it is protection and while the Spirit of Ecstasy might be a bit of a cliché these days, there’s no denying its quality when you see one up close.

The headlamp wipers are brushes rather than the more usual rubber, for example, and you get into the vehicle using stout, chromed door handles that probably sent the accountants into paroxysms back in the day but still feel wonderful in your hand half a century later.

The chrome and rubber impact bumpers might get a hard time in classic car forums but we think they blend in much better than the naysayers would have you believe. Mind you, the full-length chrome strip along the Shadow’s flanks helps shrink the car a bit, too.

The tyres are Avon Turbosteel 235/70R15 tyres, and while a couple of them (#226 and #228) are showing some age-related cracking to the sidewalls and could do with being replaced, we still think that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.

As to its condition, the Silver Shadow has aged gracefully, refusing the lure of a tip ‘n’ tuck to tidy it up. It’s gently patinated and all the better for it. Nothing so vulgar as a dent or damage you understand, just the odd dink and mark and minor touch-up here and there.

Like a well-cut suit or a Dior dress that’s given decades of service, the Silver Shadow is so much better for having been a part of someone’s life for so many years. It’s not perfect but then nor will it embarrass you and its flaws just makes it all the more adorable.

The only bits we’d probably sort out are the wheelarches (#83 and #88, for example), and the sills (i.e. #188, #189 and #205), both of which are starting to show some light corrosion. It’s not bad and no colour is easier to match than white.

On the Inside

The interior is wonderfully patinated. If you have a hankering to trade your significant other in for a younger model then this isn’t the car for you but if you look at your partner and think they’re as beautiful now as they were in their twenties you won’t find a nicer car than this.

There is a little wear where you’d expect it – and almost none where you wouldn’t. For example, the black leather front seats (trim code VM8500, in case you’re wondering) might be a bit creased and cracked but they’re still firm and undamaged.

The rear seats, on the other hand, are really rather good and the headlining is unmarked. The walnut veneer is excellent, as are the lambs’ wool overmats and removable rear footrests.

The switches and dials are all bright and clean too, and it’s still got its original Blaupunkt twin-spindle radio and a separate cassette player from the same manufacturer, both of which are a charming touch.

The tool kit looks to be unused.

Issues are few. There’s what looks like paint on the offside front door card (#107) and the nearside map light is missing (143).


As you can see, the Silver Shadow fires up readily and settles into the sort of distant hum you more usually hear from a large capacity marine engine. It revs well too, at which point that distant hum becomes more just a tad more assertive. Never anything as vulgar as aggressive, it just reminds you that its good manners don’t mean it won’t snarl if provoked…

And, the engine bay is as glorious as the exhaust note.

The chassis plate, for example, is a cast metal plate rather than the thin, stamped jobbie you get in inferior cars. The quilted under-hood insulation is still there as well and another indication of just how well engineered these cars are. It’s an engine you fettle with hand tools rather than a laptop.

Yes, if it were ours we might be tempted to tidy up the hydraulic brake fluid reservoir but aside from that it’s really very good and needs nothing other than a gentle valet.

The underside is as well engineered as anything Brunel constructed. Probably as solid, too.

Oh, and there’s an electrical cut-out switch to stop the battery draining when it’s in your garage.

History Highlights

Its paper trail includes old MOT certificates and tax discs plus some recent invoices for maintenance and repairs to the brake system, including having four calipers rebuilt. It also has its original book pack including the owner’s handbook.

The Shadow doesn’t have a current MOT certificate, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have it MOT’d at the earliest opportunity. The cost of an MOT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic vehicle, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the car’s condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

That said, its MOT history is actually pretty good and the last certificate only expired in September 2020. Why not contact us to make an appointment to see it to judge its condition for yourself?

What We Think

If you’ve ever wanted to own a Silver Shadow (and if you haven’t then you need to have a strong word with yourself…) now is the time to step up to the plate and put your money where your dream is because this example is fully sorted with only a few minor cosmetic issues to sort out.

With all this in mind we expect the Silver Shadow to reach between £15,000 and £25,000, at which price point it offers more car per pound note invested than almost anything else you can buy for the same money without having to take a disproportionately risky punt on something with a railway-arch history.

Because this is, you’ll recall, a car that’s given faithful service to its owner for the past four decades – and she’s got such faith in her car (and you lot…) that’s she agreed to offer it with no reserve, so it’s going to see from the very first bid.

So, if you have ever fancied buying one of the automotive world’s true legends, we have to ask: if not now, when?

NB: We’re selling her Mercedes-Benz 500SL too, and that’s just as gloriously Old Money as this.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 45091
  • Chassis Number: SRH35349
  • Engine: 6750
  • Gearbox: Auto
  • Steering position: Right-hand drive
  • Colour: White
  • Interior: Black Leather
  • Estimated Price: £15,000 - £25,000

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