Vintage R&T Road Test: 1976 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow LWB Saloon – A House or a RR?

The Silver Shadow, which arrived in 1965, was the most radically-changed RR ever. It abandoned the classic design language and traditional BOF contruction for a very modern unibody sedan that was a full 3.5″ narrower and 7″ shorter than it predecessor, the Silver Cloud. In the US, its size (203.5″ length) made it comparable to domestic mid-size cars, a full 6″ inches shorter than a ’65 Dodge Coronet. A bit compact, for the world’s most prestigious car, eh?

So it was no surprise that a long wheelbase version appeared after a few years, starting in 1969 in the US market. The four inch stretch all went into increased rear leg room, which made it more suitable for the purpose many buyers had in mind for it. R&T tested one form the last year of its initial version; in 1976, the Silver Shadow II appeared, and the lwb version was renamed the Silver Wraith II.

The article starts with the usual superlatives about the materials and attention to detail that made the RR what it was.

The writer was also treated to a tour of the factory, where the body shells (made by BL!) are united with all those precious parts.

The article points out that the Silver Shadow is roughly the same size as the compact Cadillac Seville that was quite new at the time, but that the RR’s interior space is vastly more roomy and comfortable, as it’s still a relatively tall car with upright seating. Everything is relative.

The RR’s price is of course invariably a subject in the reviews. This one stickered at $44k, which adjusts to $192k. My father pointed out to me when I was a kid that a RR cost about the same as house in the US. This was in the early 60s. Sure enough, in 1976, the median house price in the US was $44,200.

Meanwhile a 2018 RR Ghost starts at $312k, which is still very close to the current median house price ($320k in September 2018, according to the US census.) Some things seem to never change.