(first posted 11/4/2015) Not your everyday Sedan…
But still an interesting read from R&T’s 1979 November issue:
0-60 in 11.3, 9.5 MPG. We’ve come a long ways.
And a 7.3 to 1 compression ratio needing 91 octane gas. With twin SU 1 bbl carbs. At a time when VW ( and many other European cars) had port fuel injection on all it’s models.
The 91 octane requirement was most likely the RON rating. I am not sure when the octane rating shifted over to AKI.
VW may had some car’s with port fuel injection, but mostly they operated with carbs and tbi long into the 90s.
There were a few early ’79-’80 Westmoreland built non California 49 state stripper Rabbits that had 1 bbl carbs. They were very rare. Air cooled engines all went to FI by ’75. By ’77 all (except for the rare strippers) water cooled were FI. I know in Europe carbs were still used into the ’90’s. Never had TBI in the US. Was talking US models.
Yes. Yes, I’ll take one. In blue, if I may.
Those sure were the days! You can’t get a Mercedes E class for that price today! Not that in the day, $74,000 wasn’t “a kings ransom”! But, it just shows how high prices have gotten on our vehicles. It’s not uncommon to drop over 50 grand on a CUV these days! Of course things were all not perfect back then. Did you see that 11.4 sec. 0-60 time. Today, something as mundane as a Chevy Spark, or Nissan Versa, could blow that off the road. As for our high power, premium and super premium luxury vehicles, most of those will do 0-60 in somewhere between 3.0-5.0 sec., depending on the model! My, my, how times have [indeed] changed!
$74,000 in 1979 is $242,000 in today’s money.
From what I can find the cheapest Rolls today is a Ghost and it starts at $263K. Not bad considering how ridiculously better today’s car is, doing 0-60 in 4.4 seconds.
I definitely agree with you on that point! Too bad an average midsize family sedan is now running over 30 grand! Back in the day (’79), you could have gotten an average midsize (then called intermediate) sedan was about 5 grand. Yes, todays cars are better in every way: Handling, braking, efficiency, comfort, safety, luxury content, etc.! That said, it was so much easier for a family to afford a basic 5 (or even 6) passenger car back in 1979! Today, many people needing a roomy, 5 passenger vehicle, are forced to turn to the used car (now called the more “pc” name of “pre-owned), which are not always in the best condition, as dependable, or safe, as a new vehicle. So, I suppose there is good and bad to be said for either era!
Cars have never been cheaper than they are today, especially when on factors in the very cheap financing that is around.
Growing up in the 70’s, one of my parents’ friends was in sales at a southern California RR dealer. Knowing that I was a car buff, he invited me over to the dealership on a couple of occasions and took me back into the service area to see some truly beautiful older models being serviced and some cool classic cars that people had traded in when buying a new Rolls.
At the time this dealership was the #2 store in the world behind the factory showroom in London. Our friend told me that 60% of their new car “sales” were leases to corporations that were getting the car for their CEO’s. Price wasn’t an issue. The corporations wrote it off as a business expense and the CEO reaped the tax free benefit of driving the car.
Yes, you need to “convert” between back then prices and today’s prices. It makes no sense to directly compare an old $5,000 family sedan with a $30,000 one today because a circa 1973 dollar could buy a lot more than a circa 2015 dollar can.
Yes, there has been a lot of inflation in the past 36 years since 1979! But, in 1979 the base price of a Chevrolet Corvette was just about $10,200! That was a shocking price at that time, as many were outraged that “America’s affordable sports car”, had risen in price to over $10,000! Now a base Chevrolet Corvette in 2015 (not 2016, that will be even more), is just under $55,000! Start checking the very extensive and expensive option list, and you can tip the scale over 75K! I won’t even discuss the stratospherically priced Corvette Z06! With a base price of at least 79K, you can easily hit 100K, once you start with those pricey options! As I’ve said, you can’t even compare the quality , ability, and content of today’s cars, compared to anything available in 79. Only thing is, somebody has to pay for all of today’s “goodness”! That “somebody” is the consumer!
The base price on the Chevrolet Caprice was about $6,000. With some options (and everything was optional) it would probably run more than $6500.
The CPI in 1979 was about 73 (inflation was hot then) and now it is about 238 (and decreasing).
$6,000 in 1979 would be $19,664 today.
2015 Impalas start at $27,060.
Of course the base Impala today is much better equipped than it was then, so it’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
True, the ’79 Caprice was around $6000.00! That 6 grand, bought you a large, comfortable, 6 passenger, full size car. Many considered the Caprice to be “a poor man’s” Cadillac Deville. You got virtually all the room, comfort, smooth ride, and quality of a contemporary Deville, for a fraction of the price! Truth be told, that has not changed even today. The 2015 Chevy Impala, is “a poor man’s”, Cadillac XTS. Again, you get nearly everything the XTS has to offer, for a lot less money Only thing is, you sure can’t get a 2015 Chevy Impala for 6K!
The Impala does not offer AWD or the Driver awareness package. The Buick Lacrosse does offer the awareness package (or part of it).
I didn’t realize that the most important consideration in a luxury car is its acceleration!
Better? The new Ghost is better only in the sense that all modern cars are better. and it’s certainly nothing to do with acceleration, which you seem to think is all important. The ride quality of these old cars way surpasses the new—maybe not in terms of cornering, and other performance things, but an RR is not about performance. It’s about a state of being that those, of whose assessments about cars, lack the slightest awareness. The superior build quality of the car itself and the pleasurable ride it offers is still unsurpassed.
Who cares? Rollers should be unobtainably expensive.
For the rest of the car landscape, just buy used if costs get to you, I hear cars are more reliable than ever now a days, so no worries.
Back when GM was such an engineering powerhouse that Rolls Royce was unashamed to use one of the General’s transmissions.
It was likely the most trouble free part of the car. 😛
I’m sure I read Rolls Royce took a big block Buick and their V8 was heavily based on it. Not my cup of tea thanks, even if I could afford to buy and run one I’d be scared of some scrote keying it or worse.
Packard popped into my head, but a quick search brought up the link below. It makes sense that an aluminium block, wet liner engine could not really be based on a cast iron US engine. No doubt Rolls Royce kept up to date with what was going on, but the claim that they did not need to copy anybody else makes sense to me.
The RR V8 was 100% Crewe designed and based on the WWII RR Merlin engine. Forget the nonsense about being a GM derivative. It’s the other way around.
Rolls used Buick hydraulic lifters, at least during the development of their V-8. No one in England could make them so precisely. GM churned them out by the gazillions.
Rolls had considerable trouble with cam/lifter wear during development.
Duh. Buick Nailhead lifters have no crown, Nailhead camshafts have no taper on the lobes, and there’s no deliberate offset of the lifter body to the cam lobe. In short, Buick did not intend for the lifter to spin in use; unlike…well…every other manufacturer at that time, or since. If anyone else was using genuinely “flat” hydraulic flat-tappets, I don’t know about ’em.
Why did Rolls chose to prototype with Buick lifters? No idea. Maybe it was a random choice, maybe GM had a temporary surplus at the time, maybe they happened to be about the same diameter as Rolls was expecting to use. Did Rolls deliberately chose the only hydraulic lifter in mass-production that wasn’t crowned? Again, no idea.
RR also had the good judgment to us Harrison (Frigidaire) components for its air conditioning systems. Can’t beat a good ol’ Hydra-Matic transmission or a A6 compressor.
Plus Saginaw power steering components.
Not to mention knocking at the door of Citroën house to borrow a cup of hydropneumatic suspension system.
RR used the Hydra-matic from the late 40s or early 50s, but built it themselves under license, so to adapt it to drive the old gearbox-driven brake servo. With the Shadow using high-pressure hydraulics, they changed to GM-sourced THM400s, though I believe early RHD cars used BW transmissions.
The HM transmission actually remained in use in the big Phantom until the late 70s, when it was finally revised to use Shadow brakes and the THM400.
A Rolls of that era did not ever brake down.
(If it did the factory would take care of it post haste wherever whenever and not a word would be spoken about it afterward).
RR’s do not break down – they just were said to need “readjusting”.
Hmmmmm I thought they just simply “failed to proceed.”
0 to 60 in 11.3 seconds? Not the kind of car for the traffic light Grand Prix, but its not supposed to be. Its a Rolls Royce baby, and that says it all.
So very true! A Rolls does make a statement! When you pull up in a Roll Royce, “You have arrived”! Of course that’s a double meaning. You’ve arrived in life as well as your destination! Now, with all that said, todays Rolls, as well as, Bentley’s, Mercedes, and even Cadillacs, not only make a statement about your affluence, they will kick ass at the “Stoplight Grand Prix! Depending on the make and model, we’re talking anywhere from sub 5 sec. times to 60, all the way to sub 3’s for the sportiest Bentleys! A Rolls Royce Wraith will hit 60 in just over 3 sec.! Luxury, pampering, and kick ass speed, today you can have it all!
The reason for the 11.3 second 0-60 time is that extensive testing determined that faster sprints would cause passengers to spill their Grey Poupon.
A while back I saw one of these at a used eurocar dealer for $6k on account of the factory purple on red color scheme. Hey, it was different! I suspect the Baghwan had something to do with it…
Wow! A Rolls for 6K? Don’t care what the color scheme is, that’s worth buying, fixing up, and flipping for a huge profit! Unless that thing was under the sea for the last 36 years, it had the potential to make someone a big, big, hunk of change!
It was about 10 years ago!
The engine that RR really admired was the Chrysler which found a home at several other bespoke outfits.The Shadow was the first unitary Royce and had corrosion issues quite early in its life.When it appeared it was not really value when up against the XJ 6 or the New Range Rover ,suddenly RR looked out of touch.The Shadow in eoro tune was quicker than the figures above and a little judicious tweaking made it a fine long range tourer.but by golly did they roll… wheels on the door handles,but they gripped.
A Rolls-Royce Motor Car does not “break down” it “fails to proceed”.
Its’ owner simply chose to drive his matching Valiant Brougham that day.
Slick car, but I could NEVER see myself driving something like that…way too flashy for my taste. I used to drive an old MB 420SEL that I paid $1500 for…got called a rich prick more than once in that old tank, I can’t fathom what kind of nasty responses one would get in a RR.
Here’s how you avoid all the jealous, haters…You get a bumper sticker that reads: “My Other Car Is A Yugo!”. See, problem solved! Ha, ha!
I’d wear that as a badge of pride. Eff anyone that judges you merely on what you drive.
That said, I’m always surprised when I show up in a 11 year old ( has to be not ghetto molested for this to work, nota bene) Cadillac (work car) in a suit how people treat you, and I mean some of them fall all over themselves to help you out others rubberneck. Come on-its just an old GM! Even all the hoi polloi could afford one at this point! 😉
Just wearing a suit makes people call me “sir” and show lots of deference. Women from 40-60 years of age also pay more attention to me at Kroger if I shop in a suit after work…I’m happily married and not looking but is is still flattering. Add a big black luxury car to the mix and it’s amazing. Given that I wear a suit six, sometimes seven days a week, it seems very normal to be dressed up.
I do get a kick out of wiseasses who say “goin’ to a funeral?” and I can reply, “yup, 6 of them today”. Shuts them right up, and I’m not lying, I’m a cemeterian and we will have up to 20 interments/inurnments/entombments on a busy day.
Ha! Same type of work here, I’m a mortician-hence the suits and the older Caddy.
I know its a little off topic, but since we’re talking about a fancy car, I really do like “dressing up” even though if you want to get technical, its just wearing proper business dress. It sets a much better tone for work, for business outside of work and for other activities like church. It comes as no surprise that you get more respect when you like you have the self-respect to actually wear adult clothes.
I’m always disappointed to see adults going to decent restaurants or church or even out doing adult business in t-shirt/workout pants or what basically amounts to pajamas. Ugh…
Thus endeth the rant…
“…As far as the Rolls-Royce reputation for quiet is concerned…”
Is it quieter than a Ford?
Yes, it’s supremely quiet.
You can still find a Roller for around $5k. I have seen some with a very nice interior in this price range but most will require a great deal of work to get the mechanical bits up to snuff. $10k will get you a nice Bentley Turbo R, my choice of the RR/Bentley family.
Don’t buy it! There’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Rolls-Royce.
When this car was new , a buddy of mine was a Mechanic at an indie Rolls Royce Shop and a whole lot of them ‘ failed to proceed ‘ .
Cheap ones abound but you’ll never make a penny up fixing then trying to flip them .
I’ll take your word for that, Nate. I am not in a physical or financial position to either purchase nor fix up, any cars in an attempt to profit from a flip!
The 71.8 inch width surprises me – that was a pretty narrow bodied “big” car for the time. The full-sized Ford of 1979 was around 78 inches wide. Even the downsized Impala was bigger at 76 inches of width.
I’m told that when Charles Schmitt was the St Louis RR dealer, he had one new car come in with shipping damage…the quarter panel was paid open like a tin can. Charlie didn’t want to wait for a replacement quarter, so he had the body shop right behind his place cut out a big chunk of the quarter, weld in a chunk of sheetmetal they had laying around, mud it up with bondo and paint it. I’m told that there was so much lead and/or plastic filler on these things that this repair fit right in with the RR way of building ’em.
The irony in this story is that the body shop generally worked on taxi cabs and other low end stuff…delivery damage on a new Rolls must have taxed their abilities…
Back in the 70s when I worked for GM in Fremont Ca. cars could not be repaired by plastic filler. Minor damage had to be “massaged out” with the “paintless” dent repair techniques now commonly used. Lead was still used for the roof and quarter panel joints. I saw several repairs made off the paint line. I guess that lead may have been used for a bigger repair though I never saw that. I’ll bet the cars were just scrapped. There wasn’t much chance for a car to get damaged during assembly, but a few got wrecked driving them around the huge back lot. I don’t know about damage in transit. I guess that was up to the dealer.
I saw a statistic about 10 years ago…supposedly close to 10% of new vehicles get some sort of damage in transit…rail dust, dings and dents, collision damage, etc.
The one and only time my father bought a brand new car, a ’72 Nova, when he showed up to the dealer to take delivery he was told that it had incurred quarter panel damage when being unloaded from the train and would need a few days for repair. He told them he’d wait for a new one to be ordered, as he wasn’t going to pay “brand new” price for a damaged and repaired car.
Since special orders are rare anymore and most dealers require you take delivery from stock to be eligible for sale prices/financing offers, it must not be uncommon to unknowingly have repaired damage on your “brand new” car. I know I’d be livid.
When I worked for the Jeep Dealer , we also carried IHC and a brandy new fully optioned out Scout was hit by a BIG boulder dropped off an overpass as the train went under it ~ back then they were open car carriers , it was a real mess , they fixed it , I don’t recall if the person who’d ordered it accepted it or not .
Another time a Customer wrecked his brandy new bright red CJ7 the day after he drove it off the lot , it was smashed right up to the firewall , obviously a total write off .
The next day a guy I’d never seen before came in and dragged it into a corner of the service lot and stripped everything ahead of the doors off and proceeded to straighten the frame , heating and welding cracks and rips as necessary , then he re painted it chassis black and began to re assemble it ~ he ever so carefully re used every part he could and when finished it looked new again .
Me , I’d not have wanted it but Dealers do things differently .
Another time a new 88 passenger (those really long ones) rolled down an embankment as it was being transported from the body plant ~ it was re bodies and offered to any Dealer for about 1/4 it’s regular price .
In more recent years, knowingly selling a wrecked and repaired car as “new” has gotten dealers into some legal trouble. The old days of “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” are over.
I remember reading a story in Road & Track on the Rolls Royce plant in Crewe UK some 40 years ago. The author asked a representative how fast the “assembly line” moved….His response was, “I think it moved last Tuesday”.
While not quite the equivalent of a Silver Cloud in presence or exclusivity (some of that may be a function of the Cloud’s being much older) I still stare when I see a Silver Shadow on the road. Very much a “classic” shape even when it was only a few years old, and quite a difference from the very squared-off Silver Spirit/Spur that followed.
i had a 71 for 9 years 20 years ago. An absolute nightmare to try to maintain. Gorgeous to look at but that’s where it ended.
You bought the wrong one. Probably one of the “cheap” ones you see everywhere. There’s a reason for that. A badly maintained RR will eat your life’s savings.
Rolls Royce, a 75.000 $ car with a lot more interior noise than a 1975 Lincoln Continental Town Car.
50 mph: 56 db in the Lincoln, 65 (!) in the Rolls Royce. Hell, even a Chevrolet Caprice from 1979 could match the Rolls-number.
English cars do have nice leather and wood, and that’s about it. The reliability was extremely bad in the late 60s and 70s, and 80s and 90s and even today it’s bad with the Land Rovers and Range Rovers.
I drove a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II in the mid 1990’s on a regular basis.
An experience, but nothing that made me fall over backwards.
Wow. Can’t imagine how good something has to be to impress you. . . .
I chauffeured the RR but put never pick it over my own all things considered.
My own ride was equally quiet and smooth but more reliable and relaxing.
Hard to imagine how you would think that! A well-maintained RR is as reliable as anything. I have driven many cars of all types, but nothing comes close to the serene experience of an old Crewe-built car.
But driving a Rolls Royce has it moments too. Like when you meet the origin of the leather on the seats.
Totally inaccurate assessment, I’m afraid, especially being intimately familiar with both.
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