・A joy to drive, with proven continent-crossing prowess
・Comprehensive documentation file
・Desirable colour scheme with a truly lovely interior
When Rolls-Royce launched the Silver Spirit in 1980, it represented the first of a new generation of models for the brand. The box-fresh saloon carried over the basic design of the long-running Silver Shadow, including its 6.75-litre V8 and GM-sourced transmission as well as the Citroën-licensed hydropneumatic suspension, but as the first model in the new internally-designated ‘SZ’ series its influence was long-reaching and broad. A sister car, the Silver Spur, had a longer wheelbase, while the related Bentley model wore the Mulsanne badge. This all paved the way for the Flying Spur, Silver Dawn, Corniche, Brooklands, Azure, and various other models to share this revered platform.
The Silver Spirit was also the marque’s last all-new model to be developed by Rolls-Royce before the dawning of the Volkswagen era in 1998. So this is a car with a huge amount of heritage tied up within its tasteful three-box lines… and with the market values as they are at the moment, this model could well be the best-value Rolls-Royce available today.
This Silver Spirit was supplied to its first keeper by Jack Barclay Limited of London, and it was they who continued to maintain and service it all through the eighties. In 1990 it went up to Nottingham, before coming back down to Hanwell in ’91 for a few years. In 1995 the Rolls was taken over to the Isle of Man. It stayed on the island until 2012, being regularly serviced and maintained but covering very few miles overall as the owner retired to Spain, before returning due to ill health. Following this, the Silver Spirit was sold to an owner in Germany, where it lived until January of this year, when it was driven back to the UK by its current keeper.
There’s a huge and thoroughly documented history of this car, starting with all of the original manuals and books in their correct wallet. The service book is fully stamped, and the delivery slip from Jack Barclay Limited is present, showing the original registration number to be LYM 122X. All of the period specification sheets are here to prove the originality of the spec, and there’s a broad variety of receipts and invoices for servicing and maintenance work carried out over the years. There’s a certificate to prove that the car was entered in the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club’s international ‘Wheels on Road’ event in 2007. And crucially, there’s all the correct documentation from the Silver Spirit’s time in Germany – reassuring indeed, as the annual TÜV test is more stringent than our own MOT, so we know that the car has been properly looked after.
The interior of a Silver Spirit is a thoroughly pleasant place to be. There’s a clear list of reasons why Rolls-Royce owners choose the cars that they do, and the quality of the interior ranks very near the top; as you can see from the photos of this Spirit’s cabin, it’s an exercise in class and taste rather than overt excess, and the quality materials and construction ensure a decent level of hardiness too. The seller informs us that the drive back to Blighty from Germany was carried out in one blast and in impeccable comfort, with everything working as it should. The air-con is ice-cold and works instantly, and the electric seat adjustment is fully operational. The digital dashboard is functioning but non responsive. It displays but doesn’t change and the passenger electric seat does not work and the drivers arm rest is slightly lose on the underside.
The leather hide is in lovely condition throughout, with just a little gentle patination and some minor wear to the front armrests. The headlining is excellent, as are the carpets throughout, and there’s a set of optional lambswool overmats lurking in the boot and ready for use if required. The dash is in very good condition, with no damage or marks to the wood, all the correct switchgear in place, and the gauges working correctly with no warning lights illuminated. The door cards are complete, the vanity mirrors have functional lighting, and there’s nothing missing. A well looked-after interior that’s supremely comfortable and eminently usable.
The bodywork of this Silver Spirit is all original-spec and unrestored. There’s a little gentle patination to the Garnet paintwork here and there, but it’s all honest and true. Every panel is straight and the panel gaps are even and proper throughout. All of the correct chrome trim is in place and in good condition, and the bumpers are free from parking damage. The light lenses and window glass are all in great condition, and of course the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy takes pride of place atop that imposing chrome grille.
The car wears 15” steel wheels with matching hubcaps in superb condition, and they’re shod with the correct Avon Turbosteel tyres which have plenty of tread. The Silver Spirit wears its years with honesty and grace, and drew many an admiring glance as we cruised through South London for our photoshoot.
The venerable 6.75-litre V8 is a Rolls-Royce icon, and owners earn the right to refer to it as a ‘six-and-three-quarter’ in casual pub chat. A Rolls-Royce ought to be smooth, near-silent and free of vibration or resonance, and that’s precisely how this one behaves; the mighty engine fires on the first spin of the starter motor and settles into a subtle idle. The column-shift transmission ’box shifts cleanly, the torque-rich motor providing the appropriate levels of waft, with all of the hidden urgency you may require just a throttle-blip away. We know that this Roller has always been comprehensively maintained, and that’s born out by the way it drives today. What’s particularly interesting to note is that after the current owner imported it in January, it sat unused in storage while the long and drawn-out process of sorting out the paperwork was completed; on our photoshoot, however, you’d never have known it. The car behaved as it should, dealing with the heavy London traffic on one of those rare scorching UK summertime days with casual aplomb. Which is exactly what a Rolls-Royce should do.
This Silver Spirit really does look like astonishing value for money. It’s got a huge history file that traces every chapter of its life right back to the very beginning, and we can see from the extensive service history that it’s never wanted for love and attention. The specification is exemplary, and the condition of the car throughout speaks of a machine that’s always been properly looked after. We know from recent evidence that it’s equally happy crossing continents or coping with gridlock in 30-degree sunshine, and it drives absolutely superbly. Where else can you find this amount of car for this amount of money?
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