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Car of the Month

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Rossfeldt: Rolls-Royce and Bentley / From the Dawn of the 20th Century into the new Millennium



Car of the Month - September 2020
Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, 1980, #
4-Door Saloon
('camouflaged' as Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 'SZ' during the period prior to the launch of the new model)


Silver Spirit

The vast majority of Rolls-Royce's "Factory Records" documenting details from test and production for any of the cars built at Crewe have survived. These offer information for motor car historians and – provided a set of photocopies of the original sets of 80+ pages "Construction & Test Records" are ordered - make for a valuable addition to the files kept by many owners as documentation on their motor cars. Quite often information as regards the production of a car from the Silver Spirit range might surprise with fascinating detail. 

Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit

Most presumably that will be the case on ‘early cars’ from the year the model was introduced? In the past obviously has never been published any note about an interesting interlude from that period: Initially a few of the cars were listed in Rolls-Royce's documents with designations that had NOT been model names from the company's range! In simple words: The cars started a secret life as if they were a non-existing model.

On what most presumably is but a fairly limited number of "New Car Order" documents from February1980 onward specified for Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit: "Car Type - Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow SZ". That is an enigma because the motor car manufacturer by then listed as their Rolls-Royce models "Silver Shadow II" and "Silver Wraith II" - but did NOT offer a "Silver Shadow SZ". Indeed it is known there did appear in documents on other cars curious model designations like "Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith SZ" or "Bentley SZ Four-Door-Saloon".

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There is an explanation, of course, and that perhaps ‘elevates’ such motor cars to the rank as rare special ones. Prior to launching in October 1980, the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit as successor of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II the company had been extremely keen no leaks as regards the new model should become known in the public domain. So as not to inflict sales of the final units of their current models. Hence over the following months almost all correspondence was on "Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow ‘SZ’ 4 Door Saloon" in conjunction with particular chassis-numbers - and not before the invoices were made out the correct model name "Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit" was found. For example, from February 1980 onward the documents on this car listed a “Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow SZ” destined for a customer in the USA– and only when on 25th September 1980 the bill was written for the first time did appear the model name Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit. At that date it was no longer considered "High Risk" to inform as regards the name of the new model. During the last week of September 1980 to media Press Releases had been issued about the new model’s debut. The Press Releases insisted strictly on Embargo "0030 1st October 1980".

No earth-shattering new facts there have been “Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow SZ” and “Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith SZ”, too – however dubious entrants in Factory Records from 40 years ago are no longer a mystery. 

Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit