Rolls Royce is synonymous with luxury, it's a name that defines comfort and build quality worldwide. The Silver Shadow, powered by the silky smooth, ubiquitous 6.75L V8, wafted its occupants from where they were to where they wanted to be on a cloud of comfort, provided by its class leading self-levelling suspension and sumptuous, armchair seats.
Our Silver Shadow however, has seen better days. Originally purchased in 1975, it was later bought from proceeds of the Brinks Mat robbery, which explains the fact that it has a genuine 41,000 miles on the clock and only covered 300 miles since the 80s as the owner wasn't available to enjoy it...
The car has spent the last 10 years moving from workshop to workshop, spending several years outside before we rescued it. However, it's with us now and it will be stripped, repaired, rebuilt and restored and in a few short months, there will be a transformation showing on this site.
The low mileage of the car, while not evident in the body, reflects in the engine, which is in remarkably good condition; the interior, whilst seemingly poor has issues only skin deep and won't take a lot to bring it back up.
This car comes with some incredible paperwork, including a series of MoTs proving the mileage, a good set of receipts, but the jewel in the crown isn't just the original dealership order and receipt, but the complete set of factory build and test sheets, documenting its entry into the world.
We are at the beginning of this project, but we will be posting updates and pictures as we progress, so check back to see how things are going.
The chassis is in remarkable condition in general, the main chassis struts are solid and show no rust, the floor pans are in excellent condition and the only sections that need attention are the sills, the rear suspension turrets and the boot floor, an incredibly small amount of metalwork, given it has been outside for so long.
We will begin stripping this soon, which may reveal more, but the real test will be when we cut away the known rot, which often reveals hidden treasures.
As with all of our builds, the suspension will be stripped, all metal work shotblasted and powder coated, all bushes replaced, new springs and shocks fitted (which for this beast is no mean feat!) and everything rebuilt better than new.
The differential has been leaking for some time and will need to be stripped and inspected, but no significant play can be felt, so it may just require a good service, replacing bearings and seals, rather than needing anything more serious.
The tank like crossmember that holds the differential will be removed, shotblasted and powder coated and the unit itself will be cleaned and painted; the underside will, as always, look as good as the bodywork.
The gearbox is a bullet proof unit and while there is the usual rear seal leak, the fluid level in the box is good and is a lovely bright red, indicating that it should be in good condition. This too will be removed and inspected as a matter of course though.
The drive shafts and propshaft are in good condition, with no cracks or rust, they will be stripped, shotblasted, powder-coated and rebuilt with new universal joints.
The 6.75L engine is a true icon and the longest running unit ever used in a production car, with its inception in 1968 and the last variant rolling off the production line in 2020.
They have their issues, the hydraulic pumps used for the suspension and brakes leak, the head gaskets let go with predictable regularity every 80,000 miles or so and you need to keep on top of maintenance or large bills come your way, but at 41,000 miles, this engine stands a good chance of still being in excellent condition.
The engine will be tested in-situ at first, to ascertain the cylinder condition, then it will be removed, stripped and assessed, before being rebuilt.
Cooling wasn't a huge issue on this engine, the large water jackets contain an inordinate amount of coolant, which runs though a large radiator and given the low stress and general sedate nature of its use, temperatures were usually kept pretty well in check, however....
We don't like the cooling systems of this era and with any of our builds, we always upgrade this element to make sure things never get too warm.
A larger radiator will be fitted to allow for greater coolant flow and thus exposure to the increased cooling fins, taking more heat out of the fluid. This will be coupled with an electric water pump, replacing the standard unit, electric fan and an intelligent controller, completed with waterless coolant.
Mechanical pumps have the main issue that they only run at engine speed, meaning that when the car is stationary, or slow moving, the pump is turning at engine tick-over, when the coolant may be rising in temperature and in need of more rapid cycling. The electric pump enables flow to be as fast or as slow as needed.
Likewise the electric fan can be run whenever is required at whatever speed is deemed appropriate, which is often much faster than a mechanical fan at idle, when the car isn't moving.
Controlling these elements will be an intelligent module that reads engine temperature and runs the fans and pump as much as is needed to maintain a constant temperature.
This controller has the added advantage of being able to slow the use of the pump when the engine is cold, allowing a quicker warm-up and reducing emissions and fuel usage. Equally, when the engine has been stopped and the engine bay temperature rises (the bay acts like an oven, when the engine stops, the latent heat is no longer being removed and the insulation of the bay causes the temperature to rise for a time before it dissipates), the pump and fans can be run for as long as is needed to reduce the temperature. This greatly improves the longevity of the engine.
Waterless coolant is used in all of our builds. Containing no water it prevents oxidisation and thus no rust forms in the channels. Additionally, it has a higher boiling point, meaning that even in hot weather, with the engine under load, there is no risk of gas being released from the coolant and creating hot-spots.
The other main advantage of these fluids is that they gain and release heat more quickly than standard coolants and thus draw the heat from the engine more efficiently and release it via the radiator in the same manner.
All in all, this combination of elements tames the heat of this incredible engine and makes for a more reliable, more enjoyable car.
The body is generally in good order, while the sills are gone, the doors, boot, bonnet, apertures and floor pans are devoid of rust.
The roof, at one point in its life was given a sunroof, which was later removed. This latter work was poorly completed and while the plate work itself was well done and water-tight, the metal wasn't treated and surface rust formed, cracking the filler used above it.
This will all be stripped back, the plate work will be re-done and finished correctly, treated and then painted with the rest of the car.
The car left the factory coated in Regency Bronze and was at some point in its life repainted, quite badly, in the white you can see today. We will be changing that again, but the colour won't be revealed until it is done, but the car will regain its sense of style and ceremony, befitting a Rolls Royce.
The interior looks very sad and neglected, but when you peer deeper, it's not as bad as it would seem. The wooden trim, whilst loosing its veneer is solid without cracks or rot and will only need to be rubbed down, treated and re-veneered.
The seats are mostly in good condition, with the leather just needing an in-depth regimen of feeding and restoration, although the passenger seat will need the attention of our trimmer to repair as some of the stitching has come away.
Where possible we prefer to retain the original leather, it's not always possible, but if we can we do, because old leather is incredibly comfortable and it retains its originality.
The carpets will need to be replaced and the lambs wool mats are missing, which is a shame, but can easily be replaced, however the roof lining is pretty much perfect and will only require a clean.
This beautiful piece of English heritage deserves to be restored, it is an icon of the 70s, a revered worldwide example of how luxury should be done and we will bring it back to life.
Check back soon and we will update this page with progress photos and details of the restoration.
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