High Roller a new

era for Flying Lady

Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

IN the early 1960s strange beasts were seen in the highways and byways of Cheshire.

I know because I saw them. In my first years after passing my driving test nothing gave me greater pleasure than exploring these roads,whereI had myfirst encounter with one of these monsters. And it certainlyhad me guessing.

All I could say with any certainty was that they were huge and left my little VW Beetle in a cloud of dust.

And at a lunch stop at one of the pubs in a village near toCrewe I was assured that they emanated from the nearby Rolls-Royce factory.

Just the beer talking I thought, but I saw more of these cars and it transpired they were the early, disguised test runners for what would be the most radical departure for Rolls-Royce for nearly 60 years.

When the wraps were finally thrown off the Silver Shadow the world stepped back in amazement.

You have to understand that the Roll-Royce mainstream model previously had been the monumental Silver Cloud built on a traditional chassis and many believed that it just could not be bettered.

But there were suggestions of the Shadow's three box styling in some coachbuilt Rolls-Royce cars of years before, but the fact that this was the company's first chassis-less car took a little time to settle. No previous car from the company had even suggested that monocoque construction was the way ahead, but in 1965 there it was.

With all-independent self-levelling suspension, disc brakes, high-pressure hydraulics, electric seat adjustment and gear range selection this was a car for the future and it lasted, albeit with minor alterations, until 1980.

The car was so successful that 37,000 were built, a huge number for Rolls-Royce, outselling any previous model.

Here was a car that withstood the test of time. Even today they look impressive and desirable, even when parked next to some of the world's most expensive wheels.

The Shadow had that air of modernity mixed with true class and good taste and so many are still around, mainly in the hands of collectors and those of a certain age who are just living the dream.

On its introduction, the Shadow possessed a technical specification that was second to none making the car easily the most technologically advanced in the world.

The Silver Shadow is a very special model to me as it was the first Rolls-Royce I drove and the memory of letting the power of its 6,230cc V8 surge ahead, feeling the ratios of the original Rolls-Royce four-speed automatic transmission slip in with silky smoothness remains one of the highlights of my career as a motoring journalist.

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