Being presented with the latest and greatest most stunning car on social media has become the norm, but not today.
Here is something a little different and something that truly reflects our love of cars/madness. Ladies and Gentlemen I wish to introduce our 1972 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.
This car was supplied in 1972 by Jack Barclays of Oxford to Mr Robert Maxwell. If you don’t know who he is you must have been born post 1990(Search it up), but he was a someone back in the day. Controversially his daughter Ghislaine has featured more recently in the news to give you a steer.
Robert Maxwell was the only registered keeper of this car until March 2021. It appears the car had been cared for in some way until this time by an individual who worked for Maxwell. The car had been used for wedding hire until it was pulled to one side to be re freshed. Clearly this was a task not to be completed. Left in a garage for 15-20 years with little or no use the car was put up for sale last summer with the registration mark ’76 R’. You could say the registration was for sale and it came with a free Rolls Royce!
We bought it blind. When it arrived we all held our breath. To our amazement the condition was far better than we could have hoped for. Look past the half sanded down red paint and it’s the underneath that matters. Try though we did we could not punch a hammer through the body work. We connected a battery and were speechless when the key was turned and EVERYTHING fired into life. Let’s be honest you would expect it to fail, right? The lights, the electric seats, the electric windows, the map light, I could go on. Next the engine, could it actually run? The plugs were removed and we could turn it by hand, an incredible moment as we expected it to be ceased. Turn the key and it span over. Unbelievable. At this point a decision had to be made, could we, should we actually try and save the car? Let’s face it, it’s the stuff of nightmares you know?
We could not help ourselves, it had all the potential. We set to work on the engine. Lots of tlc to the carburetor, distributer and a new set of plugs for a spark. Problem 1. The fuel tank had turned into an oil pit, this was removed and acid dipped. Fuel lines, fuel pump were replaced too. With fresh fuel she fired into life and ran very smoothly. The problems really began at this point. The car would go but not stop. If you are not familiar with the high pressure breaking system on a 1970’;s Rolls Royce then lucky you. It is complicated enough to drive the un trained mechanic to tears I assure you. We had to completely overhaul the brakes from front to rear, an eye watering cost. Even when we had replaced all components the bleeding and set up gave us a bigger problem. A small piston driven by the cam shaft to activate the front brake pump had become damaged and stuck in the Cylinder Head. We thought the game was over. It looked as though cylinder head removal was on the cards and whilst we all wanted to put in the effort our enthusiasm was begging to flag. With the help of a local RR expert, a welder and a lot of knowledge we managed to drag the damaged piston whilst everything was in place and install a new one. We had brakes!
As you will expect the jobs list will never end with a car like this but that’s part of it’s charm. The first road test covered 50 miles of smooth Rolls Royce experience. Two of us in the car with tears of laughter in awe of how this car could possibly drive as well as this?? Again everything worked, heated rear screen and even the cruise control.
Rolls Royce have a reputation for build quality and it’s so well deserved. The build of this car shows this in abundance. Indeed The RR Club sent me pages of check lists from the factory when the car was new where each component had been tested and tested, copies of the original order form from new signed by Robert Maxwell, very helpful indeed.
So if you see us driving about be sure to give us a wave as we wallow down the road. We are delighted to have her running by using recycled and restored parts too. Big thanks to the very helpful @flyingspares who took as much money from us as possible and were very helpful when we got stuck.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this project. We have no intention of painting the car or changing it’s look save for a replacement Spirit of Ecstasy stolen some time ago. We think she looks cool as is!
Please comment, like and share.
As featured in the BBC Documentary ‘House of Maxwell’ registration number ‘VJO 55K’
House Of Maxwell