Roy Fellows

                                                Me and My Shadow - 1978 -1981 ish

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The Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was introduced in 1966 powered by the light alloy 6.25 litre V8 taken from the previous Silver Cloud 3. The Silver Clouds were introduced after the end of the Second World War, the first being powered by a 4.5 litre straight six. The Mark 2 saw the introduction of the alloy V8 which had most likely been based on Rolls Royce's experience in producing the famous Merlin engine. The Mark 3 was similar but noticeable in that it sported twin headlamps. These were possibly the last cars to be produced on a separate chassis and with a top hinged bonnet. The bonnet with the centre strip and silver lady at the end gave the driver a unique perspective of the road ahead and was carried on into the Silver Shadow although the bonnet was hinged at the rear.

Regardless of its very traditional, and possibly by then unique design, the car was very advanced. It had 4 wheel independent suspension and disc brakes on all wheels. The brakes were very sophisticated having twin callipers on each front wheel and three independent braking systems, two of which were powered by stored hydraulic pressure generated by twin pumps on top of the engine. The engine was exceptionally smooth and quiet, but was not a power producer compared to other V8s. I had previously owned an Iso Rivolta powered by a Corvette Stingray engine of 350 BHP. Problem was noise and vibration, totally unacceptable in a Rolls. However the Rolls auto transmission was by American General Motors.

It also had electric windows and power steering, but driving the Mk 1 was like steering a boat by modern standards.

My Shadow was a 1971 model, and by then the engine had been enlarged to 6.75 litres and refrigeration as they called it was standard. I used it as an everyday car and it gave about 16 mpg, but a day out in Wales it returned 22 mpg, I was pleasantly surprised.

A few years earlier a friend of mine, the late Peter Boynton, a motor dealer from Cannock, had a 1972 model. Later he sold it and bought one of the Silver Shadow 2s brand new, now one of the best classic cars you can own. Big thing about these is the rack and pinion steering and suspension improvements, it drives like a modern car.

The situation in the late 1970s was weird. At that time anybody who was anybody drove a Rolls Royce. This meant heavy demand with an 18 months waiting list for new ones and second hands soaring in value. What goes up has to come down, I learned a bitter lesson as I lost a packet on mine when I came to sell it after the bubble had burst.

In those days driving one attracted attention, I soon got use to people staring into the car to see who I was driving it. I used to go out clubbing in it, in those days it was the disco craze. Yes, OK, I was a dedicated pick up merchant, the last dance, can I take you home, and then the reaction on the car park. One would not get into it, she was scared to death.  Surprisingly, I never got the gold diggers. I got one who initially thought me below her class until she saw the car, and then I went with her for a while, and she actually turned out to be a very nice person. I rather think the 'snobbery' was due to her looks and who she was, yes a bit of a celeb, meaning that every bloke under the sun would try his luck.

Going anywhere always produced a lot of attention, just stopping for pint once had people coming out to greet us. I was treated with deference even by the police who were especially polite. See in those days people knew their place. LOL.

I used to go buying at British Car Auctions Measham and sometimes a few of us, Peter Boynton and others, would stop on the way back for meal at "The Dog" at Whittington. One day there was group of lady's at an adjacent table and of course, there was some 'cross talk'. Eventually we all finished our meals and drifted out onto the car park to 2 Rolls Royce's, a Cadillac, and a Mustang. The women went into a sort of daze and lost the thread of their conversation.

Running it wasn't too bad. From memory, a set of front brake pads, I fitted them myself, yes, to the absolute shock of a visitor to my garage when he found out it was my car. Electric window motors, a persistent nuisance, and a brake pump. Easily fitted as they are mounted on top of the engine and in two parts, the outer removable by a circlip and sealing by O rings. With the outer removed you can get a long socket onto the inner. Then its just bleed the system down. That was it over 3 years bar oil changes etc. Mind it wasn't that old at the time.

Another nuisance was vandalism, inevitable considering my life style. Having a motor company I obviously had a paint shop, which was a boon. Every time I went out in it I would inspect it when I got home and it became a habit. One night someone parked next to me had really done a number on one of the back doors, must have used a screwdriver, it was down to metal, I wonder if he achieved orgasm. Did I hate whoever did it? No, I pitied them, what a pathetic looser.

Do I now regret the money I lost on it? Not a bit. Life is a one way ticket and you have to get the most out of it that you can, but try and learn your lessons along the way.

Today, where I live near Cannock UK, I never get to see a Rolls, except of course my own. I could probably count on my fingers the ones I have seen in my life, and 2 of them owned by me.

I have the book "Rolls Royce Silver Shadow" by John Bolster, and there is a photograph of the Crew factory in the 1970s with the workforce leaving at the end of the day, all either on foot of on bicycles. The thought occurred that these people were craftspeople who worked producing "The best car in the world" but regardless of their labours would never be able to afford the cars that they were producing. Somehow it doesn't seem right, but has anyone ever said that life is fair.

An interesting variant on the Shadow was the Corniche. Introduced in 1966 along side the ordinary Shadow it was sold as the "Silver Shadow H J Mulliner Coupe", and then re badged in 1970 as the Corniche. It went on to be produced until 1995 with various changes but overall enjoyed a 29 year production lifespan, but later models only available as a convertible.