Luxurious Project: 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

The Silver Shadow is a full-sized luxury car built by Rolls-Royce between 1965-80. “Project” is not a word you might ordinarily associate with a Rolls-Royce, but that would be the case here. This ’74 Silver Shadow received a replacement motor, but the previous owner was unable to complete the wiring. But it otherwise looks to be in nice condition. The car is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and available here on eBay without a reserve and bidding that’s reached $5,300.

Rolls-Royce has a long-standing tradition of building high-quality automobiles for those who have the resources to own one. The Silver Shadow would be the first R-R to use unibody construction, a departure from its predecessor, the Silver Cloud. The car would be right-sized for use not only on the roads of North America, where more than half of the previous production landed but throughout Europe, as well. The shift in design would increase both passenger and luggage space. Production numbers would never be more than a few thousand per year, with the number being 2,898 for the 1974 model run.

The seller bought this ’74 Silver Shadow pretty much as you see it and we don’t know what would be involved in sorting out its wiring issues. It must be more than he’s up to and it doesn’t sound as simple as plugging in a few new fuses. As such, it’s not yet in running condition. Under the hood should be a 6.75-liter V8 engine that would have been rated at 189 hp. Its automatic transmission was sourced from General Motors in the form of a TH-400.

The body and paint look good from what we can see, perhaps dark blue (hard to tell from the dark photos). The limited interior shots show why Rolls-Royce is a special car to own. I can envision Robin Leach sitting in the back seat being chauffeured around for an episode of The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The odometer reading is just 53,000 and there is no mention of why the car needed a new engine with so few miles. A ’74 Silver Shadow in great shape is worth just a fraction of what it cost new at around $33,000 today, according to NADA.


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  1. Pat

    Does that have an 8 track?

    Like 1
  2. Bob C.

    And it’s even left hand drive, WOW!

    Like 1
  3. Bruce

    And there was the rumor from many years ago of a Rolls owner took his car to the dealer, something was wrong with the motor. He got a call the next day that his car was ready and when he picked it up the dealer said they couldn’t find anything wrong with it (and whatever the issue the owner said had been fixed)

    Like 1
    • Euromoto Member


      Are you trying to say that, per the rumor, Rolls replaced the engine in response to the customer’s complaint of “something wrong?”

      Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey

      Just another Rolls-Royce rumor, nothing more.

      The engine covers are NOT sealed.
      The drive train is NOT warranted for life.
      The factory does NOT keep matching wood pieces for each car.
      The factory does NOT send a mechanic out when the car “Fails to proceed”.
      You do NOT have to get permission to buy a new Rolls-Royce. If you have the cash or credit, you can buy as many as you can afford.

      That said, there is one rumor that is generally correct:
      The total cost of a Rolls-Royce is NOT based on what it cost to purchase.

      As someone who ran an independent Rolls-Royce & Bentley service shop, my experience is that the correct matching used engine was not provided, hence the wiring doesn’t match up. This is especially of concern if the donor car was a RHD “home” model, not a USA “export” model.

      Depending on how much hacking & cutting was done by the previous owner’s mechanics, This could be a major job to sort out. Rolls-Royce specific parts can be very expensive, even used.

      That said, if the prior mechanic just decided he didn’t want to work on the car anymore [often times because the guy’s original estimate was too low], and it’s just a case of going part by part in hooking it all up, this might be a good deal.

      But also bear in mind that the dual high pressure braking systems must be opened up to remove the engine [The hydraulic brake pumps are driven off the camshaft], and if they have been left open for an extended period of time, then it may require a total brake overhaul. This can easily run $5k, and perhaps double that if major parts require replacement.

      Like 3
      • Kurt

        Yikes. 5 K just to fix part of one system. Pass.

        Like 1
  4. Sam61

    Repaint it and do a Judge Smales tribute car.

    Like 2
  5. Steve Clinton

    Should this be described as a “livery find”?

    Like 3
  6. Kurt

    Did Lucas build the wiring harness?

    Like 1
  7. Malcolm Boyes

    A Rolls Royce does not break down it “fails to proceed”.BTW I worked with Leach on “Lifestyles” (writer, reporter, producer) and we had a Roller like this in the opening titles.It was I who came up with “Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams”. Robin himself was not a car guy and drove Lincoln Town Car.

    Like 8
  8. MKG

    It will have brake issues too. The original engine has 2 high pressure pumps for the brake and suspension fluid. No pump, no pressure, NO BRAKES!

    Like 1
  9. luke arnott Member

    Junk when new.Awful things to drive,

    Like 1
    • Solosolo UK Member

      What, Cadillacs?

      Like 1
      • Chinga-Trailer

        The very first Rolls-Royce I ever drove was a 1977 Silver Wraith (LWB version of a Silver Shadow). Prior significant cars that I had driven ranged from the 16th Ferrari Testa Rossa built to a supercharged Type 57c Bugatti and a Renault Dauphine and Fiat 600. That Rolls Royce ‘impressed’ me as being more like my father’s old 1962 Ford Galaxy 500 station wagon than any other car I had ever driven! To be fair, I went on to own many Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, the oldest being a 1932 20/25, the newest a 1965 Silver Cloud III and all of the old ones, particularly with a manual transmission, were a true joy to drive!

        Like 1
  10. Rick

    There is the story of the man who was driving his RR and an axle broke. He called the factory and a man came out, said nothing, replaced the axle, and left. When the car owner returned to home, he went to pay for the repairs. He was told, “Rolls Royce axles don’t break”.

    Like 2
  11. Greg Cunningham

    Up to $13750!

  12. Brakeservo

    This is not so much a car, but a lifetime hobby and commitment to untold hours of fettling and fiddling combined with a continual cash drain. I speak from experience – so many people repeat mere stories and rumors but very few have actually owned on and attempted to keep it on the road. I have rarely been without at least one Rolls or Bentley since 1986 . . . and that surely would be substantial evidence if ever I was subject to a sanity hearing! But as I like to say, if we only did things that made sense, life would be no fun!

    Like 6
    • MKG

      Well said. As we know, hobbies cost money. I’ve owned many hydraulic cars and its always something, lol. Im out of that, now I drive a 1949 Nash Airflyte 600.

      Like 1
      • Kurt

        I used to drive a 1949 Packard which sort of resembles your car but was not as advanced.

        Like 1
  13. Peter R

    now 16,500.00 perhaps the bidder knows something we don’t. these cars in good running condition can be bought for that or less

  14. ChingaTrailer

    It HAS TO BE a shill bidding – an informed serious bidder: 1) wouldn’t bid more than twice what a good runner can be bought for and 2) no intelligent bidder acts before the last two or three minutes.

    Like 1
  15. Doug

    Strange that the 8-track player is mounted in the dash as a solitary stand alone unit, and the radio tuner is mounted in the console facing up…strange

    Like 1
  16. Rick

    Many times people say that a vehicle has a new motor when it is new only to the car. It was probably a used motor. I had a customer who had two 54
    Bentleys and another one who had a Shadow. In my opinion the Bentleys were wonderful cars and the /Shadow was junk.

    Like 1
  17. douglas hunt

    did Captain Slow have one of these, or was it another model?

  18. MGSteve

    With apologies to Bill McCoskey, in advance . . . is it just my perception, or is it possibly true: These cars, along with Bentleys, seem to have terrible resale value?? I’m not specifically speaking about this car . . . but rather RRs, Bentleys and Corvettes in general. I see what appears to be fairly new Bentley Continentals going for 20Kish? I know Bill has expertly written, several times, about the need to follow the prescribed maintenance program. I certainly respect his wealth of experience, knowledge and opinion.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      It is my opinion, based on personal observation along with side comments from a few people in higher positions, that when the factory decided in the late 1950s to come out with a “state of the art” luxury vehicle [the Silver Shadow], they realized in order to support the dealership service departments worldwide, they had to design a vehicle that required regular [and costly] maintenance programs. Those who bought the cars new didn’t really care how much it would cost to maintain, however those who bought these cars as used vehicles often failed to heed the suggested maintenance program, and the cars suffered as a result.

      It wasn’t that the cars were not designed well, they were designed with a need for maintenance at a much higher level then other luxury cars. So for every financial unit saved by deferred maintenance [Dollar, Pound, Mark, Franc, Euro, Yen], in the long run that money saved would result in a 10 fold increase in maintenance costs!

      So these deferred maintenance cars typically get sold to 3rd, 4th, or even 5th owners, who blindly think they are getting a great deal! As the owner of a independent Rolls-Royce repair facility, I used to meet these 1st time Rolls-Royce or Bentley owners who, having brought their car into my shop [usually on a rollback truck] are suffering after visiting the factory-supported dealership and receiving their sticker shock estimate.

      One of the reasons I had quite a few Rolls-Royces and Bentleys in my personal collection was because I could often buy them at “fire sale” prices because the owner refused to sink more money into the car, and wanted out. I would then slowly do the repairs on the side, or sometimes I would deem it too far gone, and sell parts off the car. These cars are worth far more in pieces than by the whole car!

      One of the most important thing to consider when possibly buying a Rolls-Royce or Bentley is 3 simple words, often reduced to 3 letters: FSH. That stands for Full Service History. Beware of any Rolls-Royce or Bentley that cannot provide either the actual collection of maintenance receipts, or point you to a shop like mine or the R-R dealer who CAN show you the receipts proving all the maintenance or repairs have been completed.

      Like 3
  19. Brakeservo

    If you have any true idea of what it costs to service a modern Bentley or Rolls, you will understand why the owners choose to bail out cheaply! The last Bentley or Rolls worth owning had only six cylinders and could be serviced by the corner garage 60+ years ago.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      I agree 100% with Brakeservo,

      At my age and medical situation, my working on old vehicles is history. That said, if I WAS to buy another Rolls-Royce or Bentley, it would be a 6 cylinder version, that means 1959 or earlier.

      Like 1
  20. Chris Webster

    Never understood that on “the best car in the World” had a steering wheel that looked like it came from a bus ( appearance wise) and a column shifter.

  21. lee howarth

    This RR would be a parts car in UK. or would sell for around £1000.

    Like 1
  22. Rick

    Friends of my parents ought a RR when the commercial said that the onky thing you could hear was the clock ticking. I went out to salivate over the car. There was a large hole where the clock, which had not worked since they took delivery on the car, had been.

    • Bill McCoskey


      Looks like their car was so quiet, you couldn’t even hear the clock!

      Like 1
  23. MKG

    I found several ways to afford my hydraulic era cars. First, buy a full set of Factory Service Manuals. Second, know how to repair British cars. Third, Keep your day job as a Service Manager of a foreign car repair shop and Fourth, rent them out by the hour on weekends for the wedding trade. Worked for me for 10 years, lol.

    Like 1
    • Brakeservo

      You forgot Five; if engaging in #4, obtain very expensive public livery insurance as in USA your personal auto or collector auto insurance is null and void anytime you accept payment for use of your car! Not every Rolls Royce owner knows this.

      Like 2
      • MKG

        Oh yes, of course. Thats why it went unsaid, lol. With out litigious society now that is a must!

      • Bill McCoskey


        You are SOOOOO correct!

        A long-time customer of my antique car shop had a 1950s GM 4-door that he cut the roof off of and created a car for weddings. Problem was, he was running the car on historic license plates using antique car insurance.

        Brake failure quickly ended a wedding and several people were injured. The police determined the owner had been paid $100 for the use of the car. Insurance company determined that because the policy clearly indicated the policy was cancelled the moment the car was used for commercial gain, no insurance was in force, not even basic liability.

        Multiple lawsuits were filed. He declared bankruptcy. The state fined him for not only having no insurance on that particular vehicle, but because the policy covered multiple vintage cars, none of them had insurance and he had failed to turn in the license plates for all the cars and trucks. The daily fines alone involved serious money, per vehicle.

        And your comment about very expensive commercial livery insurance is why vintage car owners are often willing to risk everything when they do provide a car and charge for it.

        Because I collected antique American & British limousines, and I had a shop that could keep the cars running and fairly reliable, I opened up what became the largest vintage car limo service in the Washington, DC and Baltimore areas. I had 8 vintage vehicles available for rental, when in the spring of 1990 I received my yearly commercial limo policy renewal paperwork.

        My limo company had never had a single claim, not one accident, no driver had received a ticket. I even employed off-duty police officers as chauffeurs. I did everything “by the book”.

        Yet for the previous several years, my commercial insurance costs had DOUBLED every year. This wasn’t just a single greedy insurance company. I shopped around and found all of the insurance companies willing to write a policy to cover my company and cars, were charging similarly high rates. The 1990 rates had come in so outrageously high that the insurance company would have been making more money off of my company than the projected GROSS income would have been.

        I had been following the limo industry very closely, and had been predicting a rapid decline to be imminent*. This was based on changing consumer demand as well as the ever-increasing high operating costs, including insurance.

        So I made an executive decision to close the limo company. As I owned all the cars and had no monthly “car mortgages” to pay, This was a fairly painless decision in terms of money. I wrote to the people who had placed deposits, [mostly for weddings], giving them plenty of time to find other vehicles, refunding their deposits in full.

        I kept only one vintage limo [I still have it], and sold the rest.

        * My prediction was quite accurate. The 1990 Washington, DC Yellow pages [there were 3 different versions, but each was basically the same when it came to limousine services] had an average of 31 full pages listing several hundred companies, including 6 that advertised vintage vehicles in addition to their modern limousines.

        By 1992 those same Yellow Pages now had less than 3 pages of limousine companies. Only 1 offered vintage cars along with their modern limousines [Hi Billy G., hope you’re doing well].

        Like 3
  24. Solosolo Member

    Very interesting story Bill and nothing has changed. Insurance companies still rip off everybody they can. One interesting question that I’m sure everybody that reads you comment would like to know is, what vintage vehicle of the eight did you keep until today?

    • Bill McCoskey

      Solo x2,

      Well I got rid of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith in white.

      As well as the Daimler DE-36 straight-8 Landaulet/limo, black over silver with black fenders.

      Ditto the 1969 Daimler 420G limo in Claret.

      Also the 1976 Daimler 420G armored limo in royal blue [it was the ex Brit Ambassador’s limo that QE2 used during the USA Bi-centennial.]

      Then there was the 1961 Vanden Plas Princess limo, LHD, black over silver, that had been the British Ambassador’s limo until the above Daimler replaced it.

      While not a limo, I had a 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn in black, this was a popular one for weddings.

      For the Bentley set, we had a very late “R” type saloon with automatic gearbox, in a dark metallic gray over silver.

      And the one I kept:

      1961 Vanden Plas Princess limo. I kept it because of the car’s history; it had been ordered by the British Government for the exclusive use of the Royal family when in North America. It was equipped with a full selection of options almost never seen on typical Princess limousines, including power division window and door windows, Dual Air Conditioning “to tropical specifications”, with A/C vents in the ceiling, much like Cadillac series 75 cars have, adjustable rear seat and headrests, flexible reading lamps, Select-a-ride suspension, and much more.

      In addition to the above specs, the car was also equipped with a “blue police light” above the windshield, an upright RAC bonnet badge with it’s serial number registered to that limo, and a bumper-mounted badge bar to display both the King George VI driver’s award, and the QE2 coronation badge. There is also a brass plaque inside the car, noting the date the car was presented to QE2.

      The car’s delivery was handled by the Rolls-Royce dealer in New York; Inskips, and I have a copy of the original invoice, the selling price was $14,684.00, no tax.

      The car was used whenever a family member was in the USA, up until the day Princess Margaret and her husband were riding in another Royal Princess limo in London when a gunman attacked them. Not long after that, the car was traded in at Inskips for a new armored Silver Shadow LWB, as the 2 Royal Princess limos in the UK, and this car in the USA, were not armored.

      The car was quietly sold to a well-known Neurosurgeon in New Jersey, who kept it for many years, finally selling it to me [as he promised] in 1986 when he could no longer travel due to age.

      Owning this limo has given me access to private tours of the royal garages & Buckingham Palace, as well as the private
      Royal automobile collection at Sandringham, where I drove the Princess limo on display there.

      But all is not sunshine and roses for this limo. On the first Saturday in May, 1995, a friend was getting married in Baltimore. As my wedding gift to the couple, I drove them from the church to the reception in the Royal limo. As I was also invited to enjoy the reception, it was quite late that night when I finally made it back to the shop. It had been raining for several hours, and not wanting to put it back into the garage, only to have to pull it out in the morning to wash it again, I parked the car alongside the warehouse, about 20 feet from the building.

      About 11:30 I hear a big clap of thunder at the same time as I saw the flash. My home was a few hundred yards from the shop. Just before midnight I heard sirens, and noticed a flickering yellow glow coming from outside my bedroom window. Looking out the window, I saw my big shop building engulfed in flames.

      The next memory I have is seeing the flames “everywhere”, and especially near the limo. I could see the heat was causing the paint to smoke, so I pleaded with a fireman to hose down the car, explaining that it was the royal limo. As more firemen and trucks arrived, they put an additional firehose trained on the limo. These guys saved the car from catching fire and burning to a crisp, just like my TR6 nearby, now a burned out hulk.

      But the limo was a mess. Much of the paint on the right side was flaking off in big sections, because the actual body skin was aluminum, and the metal had expanded & contracted due to the heat. The interior, upholstered in wool broadcloth with leather up front, had been completely soaked from the water pressure coming out of the firehose, making it’s way between the door weatherstrips, and anywhere else it could find to get inside.

      My shop was a total loss. A couple of days later I filed a claim and was told it was denied because I didn’t have a special “fire rider” as specified in the policy. My liability part took care of customer cars, but I ended up going bankrupt. So the car has been in storage ever since.

      But there is light on the horizon, a friend who owns a small auto repair place on his farm has decided to get the Royal limo running again, and I’m hoping it will be running & driving by fall.

      Like 2
      • luke arnott Member

        What a sad tale.

      • Solosolo Member

        So sorry to hear that very sad tale Bill. Fortunately the other beautiful, and expensive cars, had already been desposed of. I also lost a lot of money when I started a car which was in gear, from outside and it took off and demolished a 20ft x 8ft plate glass window damaging an Isuzu pickup, an Alfa Spider and an MG A. It took me 8 years to recover due to the insurers claiming that I was only insured from vehicles coming into the showroom from outside, not from vehicles trying to escape from the inside out. Hope you come right with the Van Den Plas which I suppose has the Rolls Royce engine?

      • Bill McCoskey


        My insurance agent didn’t even know about the need for a special rider for any commercial auto repair shop located further than 2 miles from the nearest fire hydrant or similar water supply. Went to court over it, judge said I should have used a better trained agent. We countered with how the insurance company didn’t train their agents correctly. Judge said it was simply contract law, and the contract didn’t include damage by lightning-induced fire.

        For years I’ve been a court-accepted expert in various transportation fields. But after my experience with this insurance company, and seeing how other people were treated during the claims process, I will no longer testify on behalf of an insurer.

        As for the Limo engine, the 4 liter “R” Princess is a smaller 4-door sedan. The engine is not the same as used in the Rolls-Royce or Bentley, it’s a commercial engine with a very poor rating. My car is the big hand-built aluminum body that seats up to 7 people, built from 1952 to 1967.

        And while I had sold the other limo fleet cars prior to the fire, some of the cars inside the building included 1932 Rolls-Royce 20/25 Hooper 1-off body, 1935 Rolls-Royce 20/25 James Young limo, 1941 Cadillac convertible, 1950 Packard convertible, 1935 Rover type 12 with Tickford drophead body, 1963 SAAB 850GT Monte Carlo rally car, 1969 Chevelle SS 396/4 speed, 1948 Packard 6 Taxicab. Plus another dozen rare cars sitting outside behind the building were destroyed.

        Like 1
  25. Rick

    I sold my business to a man who burned his own business down while welding on his own car.

  26. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $18,500.

  27. Rick

    I had forgotten about the 29 RR Boat tail Speedster I used to work on. It was easy to work on and fun to drive. As for the current car, I feel that someone way over paid.

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