2 July 2017

More than an old car #25: Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and Bentley T1

Rolls-Royce [RR] and Bentley have always been associated with the super-rich who prefer something more eye-catching than a normal Ferrari. Drop by any luxury hotel in Marina Bay and you are bound to see at least one. However, older models are even rarer, partly due to the COE system and that it remains as expensive as ever to own and maintain them. This makes the above 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 1 and the 1975 Bentley T1 even more exquisite in its own right.

RR was founded in 1904 by Charles Steward Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce, which started out making luxury cars and airplane engines. It quickly established a reputation for superior engineering quality. Bentley Motors was founded by Walter Owen Bentley in 1919, and RR acquired Bentley in 1931. After a series of further acquisitions, both RR and Bentley are currently owned by BMW. Strictly speaking, RR cars currently are not made by RR themselves as only the aerospace branch remains.

Production of the Silver Shadow began in 1965, with 2 generations made when production ended in 1980. Initially, it was supposed to be called 'Silver Mist', but the name was changed after it was realised that 'mist' is German for manure/rubbish. It was the first RR vehicle to adopt a 'unibody' construction [car body and floor are produced together as one unit]. The Silver Shadow 1 was equipped with a 6750cc L410 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 193km/h, with an acceleration of 11 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.17m long and weighed 2108kg.

The Bentley T1 was technically an identical twin of the Silver Shadow, except that its front grille was simpler and lighter. The logo on the wheels and the front was of course different. It also had a 6750cc L410 8-cylinder engine, but with a lower top speed of 183km/h and an acceleration of 10.2 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.17m long and weighed 2100kg.

Only 16,717 Silver Shadow 1s and 1703 Bentley T1s were made. What I found rather unique for this Silver Shadow specimen above is its rather old number plate. That is certainly not original, as the 916th vehicle to be registered in Singapore would have been in the 1950s. The owner must have liked it so much that he/she retained the original plate, although with the red-yellow background. I have seen quite a number of Silver Shadow 1s in Singapore [they are there if you look hard enough], but this Bentley T1 specimen seems to be the only one here. It has been imported from the UK, but it has not been moved for quite a few years already. I don't know what the buyer plans to do with it, but hopefully he can recognise its rarity and let it grace our roads.

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