F.H. Royce was an industrialist and an engineer by trade, and his firm was a successful maker of heavy electrical equipment and cranes before he made his first car. The Honourable Charles Rolls was an aristocrat and ardent supporter (and dealer) of automobiles. Their union was formalized as a legal entity when Rolls-Royce Limited was incorporated in 1906, and at that time the firm was producing five chassis: a 2-cyl. 10 hp, a 3-cyl. 15 hp, a 4-cyl. 20 hp, a 6-cyl. 30 hp and a V8 20 hp. All of these gave Royce the engineering experience to then produce his masterpiece: the 40/50 hp “Silver Ghost”—the envisioned success of this car caused the company to discontinue all its other models and concentrate its engineering and production efforts to build this one car. After chassis 60551 endured a 15 thousand mile trial without breaking down, the Rolls-Royce was called: the best car in the world. Rolls-Royce marketed its cars for most of the 20th century under that slogan.
Arguably the most dramatic change in Rolls-Royce automobile manufacturing came with the introduction of the Silver Shadow, launched at the Paris Motor Show in October, 1965. The closest resemblance to the Silver Ghost of more than 50 years earlier was the proportions of its classic radiator, and of course, the iconic “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot, still making this new model instantly recognizable as a Rolls-Royce. For all its history, Rolls-Royce made an automobile chassis, and coachbuilders made and mounted exquisite bodies on those chassis. After WWII, the factory introduced standard body designs for their cars. With the introduction of the Silver Shadow, Rolls-Royce departed from that approach, introducing a monocoque body; commonly referred to as “unibody construction”—this approach made the body and the chassis one very strong, singular element; and this greatly increased body rigidity while making the Silver Shadow’s interior even more spacious than it’s otherwise larger predecessor: the Silver Cloud.
This RHD car, chassis SRH20082, was produced for the British market and delivered new on February 5, 1975 by dealer H.A. Fox (Wadham Stringer) Ltd., London W1, to B.R. Miles, thought to have been a descendent of a founder of Milnes-Daimler—George F. Milnes—which developed a double-decker bus in 1902. This Silver Shadow features the later 6,750 cc V8 engine. Rolls-Royce never published horsepower ratings, simply stating that the horsepower was “adequate”—but the engine was thought to produce in excess of 189 hp.
Though advanced, many components of the Silver Shadow are easily serviceable. The air-conditioning was originally fitted with a GM compressor, as was the GM Turbo Hydra-Matic three-speed automatic transmission. What was unique to the Silver Shadow was its hydraulic leveling system, which also provided the power for the brake system, specifically using Castrol’s “RR363” hydraulic brake fluid. The system was based on the Citroën high-pressure system (though not identical to the Citroën system in some material ways, Rolls-Royce did have a licensing agreement for the design).
This car had a complete engine service and most importantly, it had its brake and hydraulic system overhauled. The owner also reports that the transmission shifts flawlessly, the exhaust system was replaced with stainless steel tubes, the air conditioning blows ice cold, and the power windows, locks, radio antenna, and power steering are fully functional. Completing the Rolls-Royce mystique is the Silver Chalice color, interior sports blue Connolly leather, and light burled wood throughout.
From the start, a Rolls-Royce was built to last a lifetime. The next owner of this car will continue to benefit from a car that was meant to offer comfort, convenience and safe modern motoring. As F.H. Royce would say: “The quality remains long after the price is forgotten.”