The Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit – and its long-wheelbase sister car, the Silver Spur – represent an interesting chapter in the iconic marque’s history. Being at once the start and end of two distinct eras, the launch of the Spirit/Spur in 1980 showcased the first of a new generation of models for Rolls-Royce, paving the way for the Flying Spur and Silver Dawn – and, of course, during this era there were equivalent Bentley models being built in parallel, so the Spirit platform also informed the Bentley Mulsanne. In addition to these blossoming beginnings, the Spirit/Spur also heralded the end of an era in that it was the last all-new model to be developed before the Volkswagen era began in 1998.
For the launch-model Silver Spirit and Silver Spur, retroactively dubbed the ‘Mark One’, Rolls-Royce 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. The facelift of 1989 was comprehensive enough to create the model we have for auction today: the Silver Spur II. Refinements included the introduction of ‘Automatic Ride Control’, a fully automated real-time damping adjustment system, along with bringing in Bosch MK-Motronic fuel injection and ABS. The Spur II also received a tastefully smaller steering wheel and a variety of detail changes to the exterior. The model may not have enjoyed the runaway success of the ubiquitous Silver Shadow, but it is – in every sense of the word – a significant refinement of the formula. Sumptuous luxury, impeccable reliability, ample power, and a fabulously comfortable ride. And in the larger Silver Spur form, there’s all the more room to relax…
The current owner has had the car for a few months, having taken it in a part-exchange deal. Prior to him, it was owned by a very fastidious garage owner who kept the car for over ten years, maintaining it fastidiously, as the sheaf of accompanying paperwork from specialists proves. Don’t go thinking that this is just a quick flip on the part of the current owner though – he’s very recently taken it to a Rolls-Royce/Bentley specialist for a no-expense-spared check-up, totalling over £1,800, along with a fresh MOT. So everything’s been taken care of, it’s been fully valeted, it’s HPI clear, and it’s ready for its new owner to enjoy. The car comes with two keys and two alarm fobs, along with an outstanding spec and a complete history file.
Specialist cars require specialist care, and it’s reassuring to note that this Silver Spur II has been lovingly maintained throughout its life. The car comes with its original handbook, delivery manual, and service book, the latter of which has stamps dating right back through its history; indeed, we can see that its first owner was servicing it twice a year, despite covering very few miles! There are 16 service stamps up to 60,000 miles; following that it was serviced by the former owner’s own garage with any specialist work undertaken by the Rolls-Royce/Bentley specialist Harvey Wash Ltd.
The history file includes numerous detailed invoices from Harvey Wash, an outfit who know the car well. It was here that the current owner took the car, for the sake of consistency, for its thorough check-up. The bill came to £1,831.69, with the work including a full service and MOT, repairing the seat ECU to ensure the electrics were operating correctly, repairing the screen washers, welding in a new spring cup, lubricating the underbody linkages, depressurising the hydraulic system, spraying the underside with a protective wax, renewing the boot gas springs, and bleeding the braking and height control systems. Everything that’s been done to this car is thoroughly documented.
The interior of this car is in fabulous condition, and very well specced with everything working as it should. The seats are trimmed in sumptuous Parchment hide with blue piping, and they wear their years well; there’s a little patination to the leather on the front seats, but nothing a gentle feed wouldn’t solve to bring it up to a perfect standard.
The car was specced from new with lambswool overmats, and these are all in excellent condition; the carpets beneath are similarly excellent. The rear passengers have footrests to enjoy, as well as an original and working Motorola phone hidden inside the armrest (something that’s very much sought after and of considerable value to owners club members!). The hide headlining is in great condition, and the walnut burr trim is perfect across the dash, door cappings and rear picnic tables. All of the seats are electrically adjustable, with the ECU for the fronts have recently been overhauled. The boot interior is in good condition, with a decent carpet and a poppered flap at the top edge which hides a complete and original Rolls-Royce toolkit. The gas springs to hold the boot open have also been replaced. There are two non-standard additions to the interior: the steering wheel is an aftermarket item, with wood finish to match the car’s trim, and its horn push has recently been fixed to operate correctly. There’s also a Navsure single-DIN head unit, which features a pop-out full-size touchscreen with maps updatable via SD card.
Resplendent in Rhapsody blue, this tasteful shade really accentuates the crisp lines of the Silver Spur II. There’s no evidence of any parking dings or accident damage, with every panel being straight and perfectly aligned. The retractable Spirit of Ecstasy falls and rises as she should, and all of the lights work. There’s a little orange tape stuck to the corner of each rear cluster – it looks as if the nearside has been cracked and the tape is bridging the gap, while the offside has simply been stuck on to make the car symmetrical, although we didn’t peel it off to check.
The bodywork is largely free from corrosion; there are two small areas of surface rust bubbling beneath the paint on the tailgate (below the Rolls-Royce badge on either side), and a bubbling on the nearside C-pillar at the lower edge of the quarter-light. Aside from these small areas, everything appears to be totally rust-free and solid. The paintwork is generally in fine condition, save for a few minor chips here and there, and the inevitable age-related stone-chips on the nose. All of the glass is good, the windows operate as they should, the chrome is all in place and well presented, and the bumpers and mirrors are free from scrapes. The car is very solid underneath with no evidence of accident damage or structural corrosion. The ‘480 PPO’ private plate comes with the car.
The mechanicals of this Silver Spur II are impeccable. With just 77,000 miles on the clock, it’s enjoyed very gentle usage over the last twenty-nine years, with regular servicing by reputable marque experts. So as you’d expect, the venerable 6.75-litre V8 is working absolutely perfectly, firing up instantly and idling as quietly as you’d expect of a car of such inherent refinement. The transmission is in excellent working order, and the notoriously complex suspension system is faultless, having recently been bled and checked over. The brakes are in good working order, although the recent check-up highlighted that the rear discs are slightly corroded and the rear parking brake pads are starting to get low. The alloy wheels are all unmarked, and have recently been treated to a new set of Avon Turbosteel whitewalls at a cost of £960.
As Silver Shadow values continue to climb, the Silver Spur is looking like an increasingly canny purchase these days. The profile of the design is immediately recognisable even before you’ve clocked the imposing trademark grille. (And, incidentally, this model was the first Roller to feature a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy.) The sublimely judged form has aged very well, looking classic without seeming outdated; it exudes class from every angle. And with the magic carpet ride of the hydropneumatic suspension, and the effortless GM transmission mated to the eerily quiet and wonderfully torque-rich V8, it behaves exactly as you’d expect a Rolls-Royce to.
This is an honest and trustworthy example of the Silver Spur II, with an excellent history and a wonderful specification. A beautifully equipped cruiser which is ready for jaunts to the Riviera or the Costa; conversely, it’d also be a sublime machine for the commute or the school run, making an interesting alternative to the similarly-priced hatchbacks on the market! Whatever the intended purpose, this is a dependable and high-quality machine exuding an obvious yet understated aura of class.
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