"You know you've made it when you've got one of those."
It was 1978 and we were sitting outside a pub on the banks of the Thames in Maidenhead when a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow glided by and one of my colleagues made the remark above. To some, it was the height of ostentatious vulgarity while, to others, it was the ultimate sign that you'd achieved something in your life. Whichever way you looked at it, everyone who was anyone had a Roller and the most popular by far was the Silver Shadow.
Powered by a 6.2 or, later in production, a 6.7 litre engine but weighing over 2 tons, the Shadow wasn't exactly a performance car, but it wasn't designed for driving as such - rather it was designed to be driven in. Beneath the cars elegant lines and proportions was a beautifully finished and appointed interior - all leather and wood - which cosseted the passengers in luxury and comfort.
My own personal experience of the Silver Shadow comes from a brief time in the early eighties when I worked as a chauffeur. It was a crap job - early starts, long hours, late finishes, rude and obnoxious clients - but driving the big Roller was a real pleasure ......... plus I frequently got to hang onto the car for evenings and weekends after a late finish. It was great fun to turn up late in the evening at my local with the Roller - and it made me very popular with the ladies! Even so, it wasn't enough of a compensation for me to continue to put up with the rudeness of the clients and I eventually quit after less than a month.
The Silver Shadow was a truly elegant and beautiful piece of automotive engineering which I don't think has ever been bettered. Sure there are better cars with even more incredible engineering today, but none of them have the aura of the beautifully proportioned Rolls Royce - which is why it remains one of the most popular wedding cars almost 30 years after production ceased.