The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was introduced in 1965 at the Paris Auto Show. The product of more than ten years of development, this car was to be the future of Rolls-Royce Motors, bridging a gap between the traditional Silver Cloud buyer and the next generation of Rolls owners. The Silver Shadow, in addition to being a rather shocking break from Silver Cloud styling, at least to Rolls traditionalists, also saw the change from a solid rear-axle suspension to an independently-sprung one. Produced from 1965 to 1976, the Silver Shadow was the best-selling Roller to date, with 16,717 units sold during a twelve-year run.
The Silver Shadow II was introduced in 1977, and was a bridge to the Silver Spirit that followed it in 1981. Technological advancements were made to the 6750cc V8 engine to counteract power-robbing and increasingly stringent smog regulations. The engine continued to feature an aluminum-silicon cylinder block with cast iron wet liners and aluminum alloy heads. Because of the exceptionally smooth engine, notices were posted at the factory stating, "Beware of silent cars."
The greatest improvement was the addition of rack-and-pinion steering which replaced the outdated recirculating-ball system of the Series I. Linked to the independent suspension with coil springs front and rear and a hydraulic rear self-leveling system, the Silver Shadow II offered a superb ride, far superior to that of earlier Rolls.
During this time, a small number of Silver Wraith models were built. They can be identified by a smaller rear window and an Everflex top, in addition to a 4" longer wheelbase for increased rear passenger leg room.
Excellent examples can be found in the low to mid twenty-thousand-dollar range. Higher miles and a need for TLC can make the price fall backwards in a hurry. A Rolls-Royce can be very expensive to restore, and a poorly reconditioned vehicle is extremely difficult to resell. Buying a low-mileage car from an owner who kept it in a heated garage next to his Ferrari 275 GTB and Bentley Speed Six is reassuring; finding one that has been repo'ed by a bank, with the front seats redone in vinyl and a piece of red plastic glued over a broken taillight lens, as at a recent McCormick auction, might cause you to wonder about the kind of care it has received.
Routine maintenance costs about the same as any other luxury car. Remember, a Rolls-Royce does not break down, "it simply fails to proceed." Fitted with many General Motors parts, from the air conditioning compressor to the GM400 transmission, the drivetrain is fairly dependable. The electronic components, as well as the brake system, should be your greatest areas of concern. A mineral brake fluid is mandatory, and if a careless mechanic has put regular brake fluid into the reservoir, you can kiss $20,000 or more goodbye in a heartbeat. Avoid cars that sit too high or too low, or that have evidence of brake fluid leakage anywhere.
Granted, the Grey Poupon jokes may get old after a while, but take comfort in the fact that when you are behind the wheel of a Rolls, even a $25,000 Shadow II, the world assumes you're a millionaire.

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