In the summer of 1993, I visited the wonderful Bromley Pageant of Motoring and for the first time took note of just how cheap the Silver Shadows were. It occurred to me then, that even I could afford one.
After seeing one or two more Silver Shadows sell at auctions for very low prices, I finally decided that I would buy one cheap, sell it high and so on until I had made enough profit to buy a 'good' one.
Even though I preferred the shape of the older Rolls-Royce's, having any Rolls-Royce would be a thrill, I had got the bug!
At the time I could get my hands on just about enough money to buy a 'reasonable' Silver Shadow in the mid-to-lower range of those being advertised in the small ads. I started looking in the papers and at the auctions etc. I drove to High Barnet, Herts. to view my first one, but it was very bad and the price was too high, others that I was interested in, had already sold.
The next advert I was able to follow up was for one in Staffs (a long way from Southampton !), On 21st July 1993, taking the cash with me, I went up to see the car in my old Granada.
The car was a little disappointing, the paint was dull, the chrome either dull or rusty, holes in the bumpers, etc., the wood was so-so and the leather was worn and dirty, however the leather was not ripped, the body panels were straight, no bits were missing. When we started it up I could hear that it had a hole in the exhaust, I found one window that didn't work, but apart from that it started OK, ran OK, the brakes worked and most of the gadgets worked.
Then the current owner (Steve S.) asked me if I was interested ?, well, I had a think, I really wanted Rolls-Royce and I wanted one now, however this one had it's problems. I decided to let Steve make up my mind for me. He was asking quite a bit for the car, so I offered him a very low amount as my only and last offer (thinking that he would turn me down), he snapped my arm off and accepted the offer, at 36 I was then the owner of a Rolls-Royce !
Apart from one headlamp not working, the drive home from Staffs to Southampton went fine, I thought I had saved enough money on the deal to virtually 'restore' the car, or at least to fix-up most the 'minor' faults that it had.
My wife Karen was at home when I drove it in the drive, she was thrilled to bits for me. As the registration index started 'HNY' Karen nick-named it 'Henry' (or 'Enry' when she chose to use some reverse snobbery!)
As I had left my Granada in Staffs, choosing to drive home in my new car, we had a good excuse to take the car for a long drive the very next day. We had previously arranged to meet some mates at the Drag Racing event at North Weald aerodrome, fortunately for us, it was easy to make this part of our route north (and a great excuse to show off the car for the first time)
The car started well and off we went to North Weald, when we got there I drove the car confidently over the long grass, up and down the bumps until I parked it. However when we came to drive-off, I realised that I no longer had any power steering, checking underneath revealed a broken pipe.
It was getting late and I needed the Granada for work the next day, so after realising that I could just about manage to steer the car without it's power steering and thinking that most of the journey would be on the motorway. I decided to drive on up to Staffs and collect my Granada as planned.
We got there and back OK, but it turned out that in doing so I had destroyed a number of very expensive bits.
Who would have thought that someone would have been doing me a BIG favour if they had said: "Hey! do you want to save #20,000 ?, well park your car across the road and throw the keys as far as you can".
Well that's how it all started, I paid out to have the exhaust fixed, the power steering fixed, the windows, etc. etc. etc. and the money saved was soon gone. I was unable to sell it on at a profit so kept spending money on it so that I could continue to use it.
I ended up owning the car for four years and in that time I spent over £ 20,000 on it !, the more I spent the less chance I had to recoup even a small portion of it's cost.
Colour: Peacock Blue, Private plate (HNY 271), Air conditioned (not originally working), Electric windows (fixed), Central locking inc. boot (fixed), Cruise control (fixed), Electric seats, Electric aerial, Remote alarm inc. mascot/boot etc. (fitted by me), Rear foot rests (acquired later), Head rests, Mint and complete tool box (acquired later)
While the car was with me, I kept it fully serviced (In the 4 years I had the car it was fully serviced including TWO full 24,000 mile services at authorised Rolls-Royce dealers).
By the end of the second year, the car was giving an excellent drive, it had good brakes, was a good starter, good runner, everything was working (including automatic choke, cruise, elec. windows, air con. etc., etc.)
During the time, I had managed to acquire an original Hand book, the official Rolls-Royce build history, and I kept all the receipts for the work I had done.
I had all the chrome redone (bumpers, strips, handles, badges), I had the Leather reconnalised, and due to a blown head-gasket I had a complete top-end rebuild, A great deal of work was done on the rear brakes, spring hangers etc.
It had had to have a new: coil, exhaust, tyres, front shocks, front and back springs, water-pump, viscos fan, hydraulic pipes & rubbers, battery, seat belts, front windscreen & rubber, track-rod ends, brake discs, brake-pipes.
Extensive work was done on the carbs. + balancing, lean-run, cruise control, carb. vacuumn system etc.
Too much work was done to list all the details here.
Since I have had the car I have been a member of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club. As an active member, I go to many events with the club and have met a number of people who have become good friends.
Even though the bodywork was very presentable, straight and undamaged, it had a number of blemishes and was showing signs of rust under the trim and around three of the wheel arches!
The end finally came, when having put aside a big chunk of money to 'finish-off' the car and have the body repaired and painted, I suddenly decided to cut my loses and use the money (and more ?) to replace it with something older.
As the body was poor and is the main thing that the public look at when buying a car, I knew I would have problems selling the car for cash. I took the car around a number of dealers and offered the car in part-exchange against an number of other older cars (mainly Silver Clouds).
Being a realist, I was not too surprised to find that the dealers would only offer me a pittance for my car, and against the cost of the Clouds I would need to add another BIG pile of money to get even a reasonable car.
I gave up looking for a Silver Cloud and considered my options.
Finally after much toing and froing, advertising and viewing, on the 10th August 1997, I accepted a very generous trade-in, by The Real Car Company (North Wales) for my car against a 'straight' and presentable, Black over Silver, 1954 Bentley R-Type, but that's another story !
Even though the car has cost me an arm and a leg and has not been good value for money (mainly because I bought so
badly in the first place). After four years and 32,000 miles, I have enjoyed owning and using the car, I have learnt a bit,
met many new people some of which are now good friends, and had a lot of pleasure.
It's all been very worth while and I hope to have a Rolls-Royce/Bentley and stay in the club for a long time to come.
Even though I still don't like the look of the Silver Shadow, I have concluded that as it gives such a good drive, has every form of comfort that I want and suited me very well, I may well find myself back behind the wheel of a Silver Shadow again in the future.
I met Ray and Ian from the Real Car Company again at the 1998 National Annual Rally (at Cottesbrooke Park) and asked them about what had happened to car, they told me that a customer had bought a Bentley T1/T2 ? to do weddings in, but had not had much work as the public always wanted a Rolls-Royce, so he had part-exchanged his Bentley for the car, and was now using it for weddings somewhere in South Wales.
As soon, (September 1997), as I had exchanged the Silver Shadow for the R-Type, I wrote a very long article about my experiences with 'Henry' and sent it to the R-Rec club. As this was nearly a year ago, and I had all-but forgotten about it, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that they had finally got around to printing it. The article appeared in the September/October 1998, bulletin, issue number 230.