Double Your Money! 1981 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit

There are some cars that just make sense as projects: a Fox Body Mustang. A first-generation VW GTI. A Miata, if all else fails. But I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of an 80s-era Rolls Royce as a project. However, that’s what the seller of this 1981 Silver Spur here on eBay is proposing, so you be the judge if this looks a worthwhile winter project. It’s in Florida and the Buy-It-Now is $5,000. 

The seller says this is a worthy project just for the asking price alone. Potentially, if you’re so inclined, you can part it out for more than he’s asking. But to me, that always begs one question: why don’t you just part it out? I guess it just gets my spider sense tingling that the seller has already washed his hands of this car and wants someone else to own his headache. And my God, those steering wheel covers need to be removed from society.

The problem with this Rolls (and any other one, really) is that it’s more than just a project. It’s a monumental undertaking and has plenty of needs. The carpet needs replacing, for one, and despite the interior being refinished by a previous owner, it’s already starting to unravel. Even the tires are junk and were never expected to be used for anything other than rolling on a trailer. The motor and suspension are healthy, which is good considering both systems’ complexities.

The paint is only a 10-footer paint job and will need to be re-done. You’ll also need to source hubcaps when you’re looking for proper tires. The seller claims he had big plans to restore this car to greatness, along with another project he bought, and to sell the better one for “top dollar.” Interesting to see how that has changed to selling it for the bargain basement price of $5K. FYI, there’s already been a report of one “non-paying loser,” so make sure you’re not the second!


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  1. DrinkinGasoline

    Nah….I’ll stick with the Hudson.

    • espy310 Stephen D. Pettis, Sr.

      I just acquired a very nice 41 Hudson Traveller P10 Six. It was partially disassembled by the previous owner. Any advice on this car?

      Like 1
      • Tommy

        re-assemble it and drive the wheels off it.

      • Gerry Slotkin

        Label EVERYTHING and take pictures. Don’t leave anything to memory cause you’re gonna come back in a day or two to finish. A day or two turns into weeks and months.

    • glenn

      it loks like it was in a flood

      • Gerry Slotkin

        oh my! You’ve got bigger problems.

  2. Dovi65

    When a Roller or Bentley turns up on the private seller market for used car pricing … don’t just walk away, RUN! These beasts are beautiful, ride is as quiet as a church mouse, and soft like a cloud .. however .. the repair, and susequent operating costs will eat you alive.
    Most likely this was an insurance auction buy .. flood damage?

    • Mike H. Mike H

      You should maybe include the XJ Series Jaguars to this list. I used to cringe every time one rolled into my shop, knowing that there was going to be some mysterious gremlin in there to waste my entire day.

  3. nessy

    I love this era Rolls Royce/Bentley cars. They look modern enough and many of the bugs have been worked out by this point. 5k for this car seems to be a pretty fair deal but you can be in way over your head with just a few simple repairs. I have an 82 Silver Spur that never gave me a single problem, an 88 Bentley that has a few issues but nothing major and an 86 Silver Spirit with a number of issues but many are my fault because I let the car sit for years. These cars do not like to sit for long periods of time.

  4. nessy

    Let me see if I can post a photo here.

    • nessy

      Anyone else having a problem posting photos on the site? It used to always work but now I can not post photos.

      • Terry C

        Yup, I’ve had photo posting issues the last month or so also.

      • Neal

        I’m new here and I tried to post a photo on the orange ‘Vette listing last night with no success. Glad it isn’t just me.

  5. RayT Member

    I’ve driven a few Royces from this era — one, for reasons best left undisclosed, on a racetrack — and think they’re terrific cars. Yes, they ARE quiet, soft-riding rolling palaces, but they are also surprisingly nimble and quick when you put the whip to ’em!

    BUT (and isn’t there always a “but”?) they can be frighteningly expensive to keep in good trim and, according to a few owners I’ve spoken with, are absolutely miserable for the DIY crowd.

    Still, I feel the same way about them now as I did when they were new: If I had the money….

    • Dovi65

      They are an absolute joy to drive, steering & handling are tight, quite responsive for their size. If I had the bank account to support such a dreamboat [especially a LWB edition]…
      Alas, I don’t, but I’m happy with my ‘regular people’ cars

  6. Adam T45 Staff

    Jeremy Clarkson once said: “Hand-made in Britain is just another way of saying that the door will fall off.” I love them, but you’d nearly have to be clinically insane to buy an old one as a project car….unless you had access to unlimited cash!

  7. Birdman1973

    “On this episode of Roadkill, we’re going to build a 6 second drag car out of a Rolls and a Sonny’s engine”

    • Rando

      PRO STREET! Pro Touring! Pro anything. Gut it and start over on the wiring, drive train, and electronics. Put an Impala wiring harness in it. A nasty exhauist on it to disturb the neighbohood. Maybe a hood scoop or pro mod wing just for giggles and to bother the purists. And some grey poupon.

  8. Van

    Oh come on. Add LS3, 6 spd, 22s, air ride, flat black paint, bucket seats from an old BMW, and a Porsche 930 turbo tail. It would eat fox body’s for lunch.

    • Van

      Ok how about a super bird wing?

  9. Burgerbrain

    This car sold for 109,000 when new

  10. Veloce33

    I’ve worked on few of these. Absolutely horrible cars, engineered and built like nothing else on the road. Horrible to work on, everything is expensive, very heavy, and they do nothing better than a mid-80’s Caprice Classic.

  11. Al

    I think parting this out is a good plan, as long as there is a plan. A neighbor decided to part out a ’64 Bentley S3. The first sale, someone bought the tires and wheels and left the rest of the Bentley sitting on the ground. The neighbor then had an immovable pile of crap on his driveway. Over the next two years, I think he sold maybe $1500 worth of parts. After 4 years more had the rest loaded on a truck and had to pay to haul it away.

  12. Wayne Thomas

    LS swap seems the best answer here.

  13. Puhnto

    Wouldn’t mind having the front and back seats as a love seat and two side chairs! (Ala’ “Top Gear.”)

  14. Coventrycat

    Somebody will buy this to impress the ladies – the same way flogged old Jags are – until it breaks big time, then it’s back to the pickup with the beer cans in the back.

  15. Woodie Man

    Reminds me of a Russian Zil

  16. angliagt

    WOW! – a cheap Rolls!

  17. Chuck U Farley

    Start by removing and selling/junking/tossing away EVERY SINGLE piece of original Royce mechanical/suspension/electrical bits.

    Install all the chassis running gear and suspension from an early 80’s Chev station wagon. Brakes from a Chev 1/2 ton pickup. It’s a heavy car, so you’ll need brakes for the weight! 500 Cu In engine from a ’70 Eldorado and T-H 400 trans

    A complete streetrod wiring harness

    Paint it up and you’ll have a fun, fast, reliable comfortable cruiser that will be the envy of everyone.


    Win the Powerball and hope it’s enough $$$ to put (and keep) this on the road

  18. Trickie Dickie Member

    In 1989 a close friend bought a new ’89 RR Spirite like this. He had made big bucks in real estate and always wanted a Rolls. I really tried very hard to talk him out of it. For the cost of this Rolls he could have had two MBZ 500’s.But No, his mind was made up. At 6,000 miles the car’s entire hydraulic system gave out. It seems that Rolls expects this, because in the boot (trunk) were four bottles of hydraulic fluid packed in nicely with the other supplied tools. Many times the auxiliary cooling fan would not shut off and drain the battery. Many many more things happened to that car. At 20,000 miles he was so disgusted with the car he gave it to a Mother Theresa Charity in Los Angeles to raffle off.

    • williamcleary

      How kind!

  19. Adam T45 Staff

    The frustrating thing about old Rolls Royces (and Bentleys) is that they should be the easiest cars in the world to work on. If you think about almost every other car marketed at the same time as this one, they were largely assembled by robots. These were fully hand assembled. Therefore, if a human hand installed a part, a human hand should be able to remove the same part. Unfortunately this is not the case. The other killer is that parts can be horrendously expensive. It’s a shame because I am a great fan of English cars, and would love something like this as a “toy”.

  20. RC46

    Can’t remember where I found this pic, but I’ll just leave it here for inspiration.

    • Adam T45 Staff

      Something tells me there have been some mechanical updates on this one. I’m very perceptive and notice these things!

  21. Joe Nose

    Make Rolls Great Again.

    Crescent rolls, spring rolls, egg rolls, California rolls, but not this Rolls.

    • Terry C

      Sausage rolls? And your random daily trivia moment…Did you know California rolls originally were created in my part of town, Vancouver BC?

  22. HeadMaster1

    Had an 85 Silver Spur just a few years ago, bought as a barely running project for $7k……It ended up needing a few things, like suspension “spheres”, a fuel pressure accumulator, and tires…….It was all easy to do IF you did your homework. Parts are easy to get and fairly reasonable IF you get the parts from the right sources (NOT RR Directly)……Divorced claimed the car, my next one will be a Bentley, just because a Turbo should make it more fun to work on :-)

  23. the one

    What can you say, its a Rolls.

  24. David Miraglia

    Lovely car for the price. But I really want a Bentley

  25. Peter R

    If this is the best one you can afford, you are already in trouble. I owned a 1976 version in 1986 and even then maintenance ran $10k a year – loved the car in terms of ego but after a few years was glad to get rid of all the headaches.

  26. Fogline

    I was thinking of picking one of these up for a song that had a privacy window. The plan was to rewire the window so the back seat couldn’t activate it, then make my three boys ride back there. Figured anyone that survived any trip was doing the gene pool a favor. Didn’t quite make it past my wife. Close though….

  27. Richard

    I have a 1982 Silver Spur with a Corvette 350 TBI engine and TH400 transmission. The car also has the Chevy brakes. I absolutely love the car. I can drive it without the usual headaches. Just today while getting gas, a refine gentleman offered me $25,000 for the car. I love the car too much to part with it. I’m currently getting my mechanic convert a 78 Shadow with aTBI 350/400. I have another totally original 78 and a 75 Shadow but may be selling them once the converted Shadow is ready!

    • Donald T

      my brother had a 63 Rolls Silver Cloud he bought from a local mechanic..The mechanic had dropped a chevy 350 into it w/ a T-400 chevy ran solid & was easy to work on..however, with right hand drive & no power steering, it was a bear to drive.

    • Greg Stegall

      I had a 79 Silver Shadow ll for 7 years. Bought it with 32,000 miles. The car has always been properly maintained, and never gave me a problem. I took it in for regular servicing. That is the key. If you cannot afford to properly maintain it this is not a car for you. For an example my friend just paid $5000 for shocks on his 2012 Ferrari.

    • Claus Graf

      That’s the way I would do it. TBI SBC is very reliable and inexpensive to maintain.

  28. Nick G

    This is the absolute definition of a white elephant.

  29. jaymes

    still has the sprit of ecstasy, it has to bee a good one

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