You know the world has gone off-kilter when one of the finest objects ever made on these shores, a leather, walnut and lambskin-lined sanctuary, propelled by a silent giant and hand-crafted by men in coats, that once cost as much as a row of terraced houses, is suddenly available to any Tom, Dick or Harry for a fraction of the price of the flimsiest tin and plastic shopping car.
Launched in 1965, the Silver Shadow was not only the first 'modern' Rolls-Royce with a monocoque body, aluminium doors, boot and bonnet and no separate chassis, it was also the closest thing yet to a stately home on wheels.
Squat and purposeful on the outside, decadently luxurious on the inside, it was perfectly timed to attract the nouveau gentry of the Swinging Sixties who were more likely to have made their money from business, pop or fashion than inheriting it from the ancestors.
Even today, to slip behind the wheel of a well-kept Shadow is to enter a different world where every journey is an occasion and the feelgood factor is off the scale. Beautifully crafted, technically advanced and good to drive, it sold like no Rolls-Royce before or since with 37,000 examples rolling from the Crewe production line before it was replaced by the Silver Spirit in 1980.
Over 2,000 improvements were made along the way, the most important being the introduction of the 6,750cc engine and GM three-speed ‘box in 1970, radial tyres in 1972 and the launch of the Shadow II in 1977, though this rather lost the looks of the earlier car with chunky rubber bumpers in place of the slim and elegant chrome. So sought after was the new Rolls-Royce that demand could not be met, and for a long time there was a two-year waiting list for the sensational Silver Shadow.
This stunning Masons Black example was ordered new by Lady Gladys Nellie Russon of Glan-y-Mawddach, Barmouth, from Henleys of Chester in May 1972. Correspondence on file shows that she had to wait until 9th January 1973 before the car was finally delivered. She was to keep the Rolls right up until her death in 1995 at which point ownership transferred to her favourite nephew in whose name the car is still registered today.
Whenever the Shadow was due a service it was picked up by Rolls-Royce and taken to the Pym’s Lane factory in Crewe, where it was serviced five times up to 52,990 miles, with one other service by Jack Barclay of London while Lady Russon was on a visit to the capital.
When her nephew inherited the car in 1995, he entrusted it to the supplying dealer, Henleys of Chester, for a blank cheque overhaul at a cost of over £7,000 (only a little less than the price of a brand new Mini at the time). Since then it has covered fewer than 3,000 miles (the odometer currently showing some 68,500 miles) with a wad of receipts to show ongoing maintenance, including a recent brake overhaul to address the one advisory on the MOT which runs until 31st August 2017. Equipment includes air conditioning and cruise control.
All in all, a superb example of a beautiful black Shadow which drives as its makers intended. It comes with all its large and small tools, all its original handbooks in the original wallet, Radiomobile operating instructions, advice on radial tyres and many recent receipts.
Just remember, every piece of glass in a Shadow was hand-polished with the same powdered pumice used for making optical lenses and the gearbox components were hand-finished not with jeweller’s rouge (which was too coarse) but with fine-ground oak husks.
There is no way that these magnificent machines can stay at this humble level for much longer and this one-family-owned, low mileage aristocrat deserves a new keeper who can truly appreciate its manifold qualities.
Please note that the private plate shown is not included and will be replaced by the age-related Shrewsbury number, EAW 751L, prior to the sale.