1968 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Drophead Coupé by Mulliner Park Ward
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・In the ownership of just two families from new
・In the Middlesex/Berkshire area its whole life
・Cosmetically renovated around 15 years ago
・Full of luxury fittings
The Silver Shadow was the car that marked Rolls-Royce’s transition into the modern age. Introduced in 1965, as the first Rolls-Royce to use unitary construction it was lower and sleeker than anything that had gone before it, and it embraced new technologies so Rolls-Royce could no longer be accused of falling behind the times. As a result of its unitary construction, it was able to provide more passenger space than its predecessor, the Silver Cloud, despite being 3½ inches narrower and seven inches shorter. Other new features for a Rolls-Royce included disc brakes and independent rear suspension. The 6.2-litre V8 produced 172bhp and, with a General Motors Hydramatic automatic gearbox as standard, it made for effortless driving on motorways and around town. Also of note was the advanced self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension system made famous in the Citroën DS.
Priced at £6557 at launch, it was every bit as expensive as one would expect a Rolls-Royce to be, but that didn’t matter. The updates proved to be just what the company needed, and the Silver Shadow was a hit. Rolls-Royce sold more Silver Shadows than any other model to date, and their survival rate is high so they are very well supported for spares and maintenance.
Silver Shadows only left Rolls-Royce’s Crewe factory as four-door saloons, but the example offered here is a bit more special, being a two-door drophead coupé. These were built in very low volume at the body-building shop of Mulliner Park Ward, Rolls-Royce’s own coachbuilding firm, in Willesden. These boasted a ‘Coke bottle’ waistline and a highly advanced electronically-operated roof which, when raised, gave the appearance of a fixed-head coupé. As the Silver Shadow drophead, it remained in production until 1971, when it was renamed the Corniche, under which guise it would continue being built until 1995.
The Silver Shadow offered was sold new through Mead of Maidenhead and delivered to Percy Myers, Esq., at Portland Place, London W.1. CRH5027 was finished in Ming Blue with blue leather upholstery and was originally supplied with a Radiomobile 980 radio, Dunlop tyres, Sundym glass, refrigeration, a hood bag, side repeater lamps, rectangular wing mirrors and safety belts. To have used a Portland Place address, Percy Myers must have been an important figure, and he made sure people knew it by purchasing the private registration PM 15.
When not in London, the Rolls-Royce lived with the Myers family at their home in Bray, Berkshire, and in the 1990s it made several visits to Mead of Burnham for routine maintenance and upkeep. When Percy Myers passed away in 1999, his wife did not want to drive it so handed it down to their nephew, one T. D. Lea, but he only drove it for a month before parking it in a barn on his farm in Denham, where it languished for a time before the vendor bought it in 2005.
The vendor proceeded to renovate the car cosmetically, painting it in an eye-catching red and reupholstering the interior in black leather with red piping. Sadly, the PM 15 registration had been transferred to another vehicle, so the D.V.L.A. issued the Shadow with an age-related plate. Since then, it has benefitted from occasional use and was last MoTed in 2018. He is now offering it for sale as he has decided the time has come to downsize his car collection.
The Silver Shadow comes with a modest paperwork file which, in addition to the V5, includes multiple invoices issued by Mead of Burnham in the 1990s, the latest MoT certificate from 2018, correspondence from the D.V.L.A. concerning the car’s registration and a letter from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club detailing some of the car’s history and supplying a copy of the original build sheet.
Some original factory literature is also to be sold with the car, including The Handbook of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow/Bentley T Series 2-Door Saloon, a manual for the torque converter transmission in right-hand drive cars and the Lubrication and Maintenance chart.
Having been upholstered some 15 years ago, the interior presents very well but is starting to show its age in places. The upholstery is not damaged in any way to speak of, although there are a few marks and creases in the leather which testify that the car has been used. The carpets are in good order and the rear seats appear to have seen little use. The walnut dash is in very good condition and retains its attractive shine, but the wooden capping strips which run along the top of the doors have not fared so well and may require the services of a skilled professional to make them look a bit more presentable.
The hood is quite remarkable feature which would have been more or less unheard of in 1960s Britain. The electric motors allow it to be raised and lowered very quickly and quietly, and the whole assembly is so well-made and substantial that, when raised, the car really does assume the appearance of a fixed-head coupé. Unfortunately, the headlining is starting to rot in a few places and will require a degree of restoration, and we did notice that one of the electric windows cannot quite be opened fully. The car may also benefit from new rubber seals between the door and the windscreen frame.
The original seatbelts and radio have been removed at some stage for more modern replacements.
From the outside, the Rolls-Royce makes for quite a spectacle with its sweeping, graceful lines and vivid red paint set off with cream coach lines. The paint is all in good condition, but there are some visible runs and it has picked up some blemishes over the years. The chrome is all excellent and we suspect everything was rechromed as part of the car’s renovation. Details are all important on a Rolls-Royce, of course, and typically uncomplicated accoutrements like door handles are, on this car, surprisingly elegant, although one door handle has some paint drips on it. The centrepiece, that imposing radiator, is superb, and the wheels reflect the rest of the car, i.e. very good but with light cosmetic wear. The glass is all very good, although there are some scratches on the rear light lenses.
The original Ming Blue paint is visible in a few patches inside the door frame, which is perhaps not a bad thing if you would be interested in returning the car to its original specification, as it should make it easier to find the correct paint.
As this car has only ever been cosmetically renovated and never restored, bidders will note that the effects of the British weather have started to make themselves felt on the underside of the car. We believe this car to be fundamentally solid and, certainly, the front and rear valances seem to be in perfectly good condition, but some corrosion has set in on the sills and bidders might be advised to resolve this as a priority.
We are quite satisfied that this Rolls-Royce is in good mechanical order, having seen it run and drive. For a V8, the engine is almost unbelievably quiet but, of course, silent running is a longstanding hallmark of Rolls-Royce engineering. The automatic gearbox obviously makes for easy driving, and our representative commented that the power steering is the lightest he has ever experienced.
When the Shadow was last presented for an MoT in 2018, it passed easily with just the solitary advisory note that there was ‘an oil leak, but not excessive’. When we inspected the car, we did observe a slight fluid leak but we believe it is suspension fluid rather than oil.
In the 1960s and ’70s, there really wasn’t a better way of letting people know you’d arrived than buying a Mulliner Park Ward-bodied Silver Shadow, or a Corniche as it was later known. Seemingly everyone who reached the top of the tree in either business or celebrity had one, from Aristotle Onassis to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. They are as classy today as they were then, whether you be arriving for a meal at the Savoy or speeding through the Massif de l’Esterel, so if you want to enjoy the VIP motoring experience, this is the car to buy.
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1968 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Drophead Coupé by Mulliner Park Ward
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