Careful Lady Owner: 1989 Rolls Royce Silver Spur

When you see a Rolls Royce or Bentley sedan from this generation of either of the iconic brands, it’s hard to not stop and wonder who the owners were given the models’ ties to excessive wealth. Of course, you can buy these on the used car market for very reasonable sums of money all day long, with the caveat being you’ll likely pay for it when addressing deferred maintenance costs. This 1989 Rolls Royce Silver Spur isn’t the cheapest nor most expensive, and it looks like it’s been loved. Find it here on craigslist in Raleigh, North Carolina, for $19,900.

Sadly, many of these stately sedans have fallen into the lowest tier of ownership, with cash-strapped caretakers trying to maintain a vehicle that is simply massive in every way: massively heavy, massively complex, and massively ornate, come to mind. While you can buy one for well under $20,000, that is likely a car that has been driven solely for the purpose of looking like a million bucks, without ever putting in a respectable sum of maintenance capital to ensure it can continue looking like it’s on a parade route under its own power.

The seller doesn’t provide much information, other than to say that the Silver Spur was driven by a female pilot, which I guess should give us some hope that it wasn’t abused at every red light with some good ‘ol fashioned brake stands. I doubt it, as I can’t believe hustling one of these cars at or near the limit would be much fun. The interior is one area where you want to hope the example you buy is in mint condition, as trying to restore this level of opulence will break the bank just as quickly as addressing the extremely overbuilt mechanical systems.

But man, you look at that backseat and just wish you could justify hiring a real chauffeur, as it looks downright heavenly. Acres of space to stretch out in, and the kind of room that you’d have to be exceedingly tall to even begin to feel cramped in these sort of conditions. The picnic tables in the back of the front seats look quite sharp from here, but obviously opening them up is a must-do before any assumptions are made. The leather seating surfaces are clean front and back, and if the maintenance history can be confirmed as being robust, this example looks like one to consider buying.

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  1. IkeyHeyman Member

    I remember the first time I parked a Rolls as a valet, the leather used on the seats was as soft as butter!

    Like 6
    • unclemymy Member

      Ah, “soft as butter”! Knew a girl who had a Rolls years ago – and I remember thinking that same thing…but ribald joking aside, the writer is dead-on with his description of second and third-hand Rolls ownership. Exactly why I’d pass on such a car – everyone would know it was me, and what the ultimate outcome would be.

      Like 3
      • Ike Onick

        My kind of guy. And I have NEVER had any fun with a “careful” lady.

        Like 3
  2. Sam61

    It’s seems like a juxtaposition that this generation RR/Bentley didn’t have nicer steering wheels…looks like something out of a “50s truck.

    Like 4
    • Chris Webster

      I never understood that either. And the column shift.

      • KEN TILLY UK

        My Shadow 1 had a very slim steering wheel and the gearshift on the column was just for selecting gears from the automatic box.

        Like 2
  3. J. May

    I know people that have rolls royces and bentleys. While they can be bought for the cost of a new Honda they surly are not nearly as easy to care for as one. I have first hand experience as I have worked on them and when you tell people that a tune up can cost over 10 k to complete or if it develops a mechanical Problem that you should address rather quickly they think you are nuts as it was only bought for 15-20k. I have personally seen what these cars turn to if not given the love it requires. I’d buy one but I also accept the fact that it’s going to be like having a 200k car to keep it in great

    Like 3
  4. OhU8one2

    I remember having to wait for the brake pressure lamp to go out after starting the car. Driving off too soon,meant the car would have no brakes. But great cars to drive. And lots of lookers.

    Like 3
    • ken tilly UK

      I remember the first time I did a vehicle road test on a Rolls Royce as an examiner and the brakes worked fine, only to have to fail it because the front brakes wouldn’t show a reading on the test machine. It came back an hour later with a terse message that “as a government appointed vehicle examiner I should be aware of the fact that the front brakes are actuated by the application of the REAR brakes!” Never understood how, or why, that was the case.

      Like 1
  5. Matt

    Nice car for the rich and famous. With the coronavirus economy we have today I suspect there won’t be a lot of bidders.

  6. Terry Bowman

    I drove one “ONCE”. Ran it into the wall in the garage, when the brakes failed.

    Like 3
  7. dyno dan

    10k for a tune up? what is it that makes these so expensive
    to maintain/service? just curious.

    Like 2
    • Terry Bowman

      I know a Shop in my town that works only on Mercedes. He stopped by one day while we were rebuilding a turbo 350 (25 years ago). I asked what he charges to do one and he stated, ” I only do Mercedes transmissions because it’s the same amount of work as doing others, but I get $5,000.00 for doing a Mercedes, while the going price is around $500.00 for American cars.” Now you know the rest of the story!!!!

      Like 6
    • hank

      It’s a hand built car. No Assembly line. a Team of 24 craftsmen start with an empty frame and all assembly is done by hand. No Robots doing the welding, or anything else for that matter.
      Only the finest materials are used.
      For a US or Japanese import vehicle you should be able to get 2 struts and 2 shocks for about 400.00 max. Prices on a Rolls being @ 2000.00 for the same parts. Many made specifically for Rolls, and only available @ a Rolls Dealership.
      The Service people frown on an owner doing much more than changing the occasional blown light bulb, or putting air in the tires.
      Good Price considering inflation. In 97 I had a Rolls Owner @ Western Auto in Charlotte tell me he paid 5K for the 1st service.

      Reminds me of my friend who worked the parts counter @ a Jag dealer. Owner goes through hell looking for 2 struts for his Jag and discovers that the only place you could get them was the dealer. When he found out they were 700.00 each, he blew up at the parts guy—who has been through this before.

      His reply is the moral to my story and taking on a RR vehicle.
      IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD PARTS FOR THIS CAR, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE PURCHASED THIS CAR. With the additional “I didn’t twist your arm behind your back to buy the car, why give ME the hard time!!”

      Like 6
      • Ken Tilly UK

        The favourite story re Rolls Royce was that if you asked “how many miles it could do to the gallon” then you can’t afford it!

        Like 2
      • Terry Bowman

        Hank, my father had a 86′ Jag and needed a Ac compressor. He was quoted $1,500.00, just for the part. I took a look at it and noticed it was a GM compressor, had metric bolts instead of standard thread ones. Looking back now, I should of had the local rebuilder rebuild it, instead of picking up a rebuilt one and changing out the bolts. Worked great for many years. I do agree, If you have to ask now much, you can’t afford it. Same goes with our hobby here, cost does not matter for some, if they can afford it. Why buy a RR when a Yugo can get you to where you are going????? Thank you very much, I’ll take the RR.

    • J. May

      It’s more than anything just the fact of the name on the car. And that these cars have a lot of hours put in to build one. They are not the easiest cars to fix either. Lots of steps to do certain jobs and if not done by some one that know these cars very well lots of damage can occur. Not a lot of people have the interest to work on them. So that also contributes to the high cost of ownership and upkeep. As I have told people I know that think about buying any rolls Royce,bentleys or even Jaguars/land rovers not to mention Exotic/ rare sportscars(Ferrari,Lamborghini,Aston Martin) because older ones become more affordable to buy. They still require upkeep. All these types of vehicles usually require a lot more Upkeep to keep them running right and looking good. than a regular daily driven Honda or Toyota.

      Like 1
  8. Maestro1

    There’s another issue. With the amount of hostility in the air, and the fractious atmosphere, about the worst thing you could do to attract attention to yourself is to buy one of these because the viewer, not knowing about cars, would think you are rich and therefore to be hated. I would buy one if I had the room because I know how good they are, and yes, they are expensive to maintain. They will also be with you forever. I’m also not sure about $10,000.00 tune ups. My point is to buy it for what it is, not its social implications.

    Like 1
  9. John Muller

    As an owner of another 89 Spur, I tend to think this car is very well priced if it has been maintained as it appears to have been. Yes you can buy them cheap, but if you get no maintenance history you probably don’t want it. Deferred maintenance can become very costly in the long run. I believe I have owned my car for about 6 years and think the average annual service probably runs in the 2 to 3000 range. In a fleet of 20 cars, it is still one of my favorites. I was able to enjoy a ride in the backseat over the weekend while a friend drove, I don’t mind being in the front seat, but do admit the back seat has a considerably different feel. LOL. if you are willing to put aside a couple of thousand a year average for proper maintenance, it is tremendous bang for the buck. If you can’t afford some excessive maintenance expenses, this is not the car to add to your collection. It is generally believed that the Rolls around this period require considerably less maintenance than those that came before or after. The green mineral oil brake system cars or a tremendous improvement over earlier models notorious are there brake system problems. This looks like a great car for somebody in the market for one.

    Like 3
  10. Bob Mck Member

    Wish I could transfer the seats into one of my vintage Cadillacs. They are stunning. I would never own one for all of the reasons above. I once tried to buy a Cloud II. I was so disappointed when the owner would not part with it for ghe price I offered. Today I thank her!!! She saved me from myself.

    Like 4
  11. P Wentzell

    ‘There is no such thing as a cheap Rolls’. I had a 1968 Silver Shadow. Wonderful car. The suspension system was fairly easy to maintain. One memorable July 4th, we took the car out for the day when the brakes failed. We got home just fine. A bit of troubleshooting solved the problem, an easy fix. A local car lot had a Spur like the featured car above. I was tempted, but one Rolls in a lifetime is enough!

    Like 1

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