Rolls-Royce solidified a reputation for manufacturing the finest of all fine cars, from the Silver Ghost and the Phantom and their sub-models, all the way to the new editions that have been released since BMW gained the rights to the company name and logo in 1998. But their vehicular offerings extended far beyond the two models named above. In 1980 the company began production on one of their most familiar and beloved models, a models which the company continued producing until 1999. It was the Silver Spirit.
Like all cars, the Silver Spirit’s history reveals changes that were made from year to year, changes that were designed to improve the cars performance, safety level, and provided luxury. Of course, the model remains one of Rolls-Royce’s most recognized cars for a number of reasons, but the most dominant is that it was a prestigious vehicle that was simply one of the best the company ever put out. With body styling that was geared toward young up-and comers of the day, base models that were filled with incredible extra features, and other optional extras that were simply to die for, the Rolls-Royce quickly became a must-have for anyone who desired such a lush status symbol. It was the perfect way to let everyone know that the driver of the car had ‘made it’, so to speak.
The Story of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit
After the Silver Shadow had been in production for a period of fifteen years the Jaguar XJ12 and Mercedes Benz S class were released to a welcoming public. Rolls-Royce recognized that they needed something new and daring if they were going to stay competitive in a high-class market that was seeing a lot of fresh change. Keeping the loyalty of their buyers was tantamount, so they designed and produced a car that had more modern touches and was larger in size than the Silver Shadow, and so the Silver Spirit was born. In February of 1981 they started to deliver models of the car in Australia, with a base price set at a staggering $165,000.
The Silver Spirit still had a couple of characteristics from its predecessor, like its three-speed automatic transmission and the 6.75 liter V-8 engine, but otherwise it was brand new in every other way. While the company also released a model called the Silver Spur at the same time, which boasted a longer wheelbase that allowed more leg room to back seat passengers. It was also the first Rolls-Royce model to feature a retractable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, which would actually immediately sink down into the radiator if it was in any way tampered with or dislodged from its original mounted position; this was to be a theft-deterrent measure, as the Spirit of Ecstasy had become a common target of thieves. Aside from having less leg room that the Silver Spur, the Silver Spirit was extremely generous in every way. For the next nine years Rolls-Royce stayed pretty consistent, keeping the Silver Spirit true to original form and mechanics, and their consumers seemed to be very satisfied with the way things were. But, as can always be counted on, the time came when the company decided that making a few changes was in the best interest of both the car and those who wanted to drive it.
Getting Better With Age
In 1989 Rolls-Royce began to improve on a few things so that both the Silver Spirit’s mechanical abilities and some of its aesthetics would be in keeping with the technological advances that had been made in the industry. The Silver Spirit II, which was also tagged ‘Mark II’ to add a touch of class to the received a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, a dashboard that was more efficiently and conveniently designed for the driver’s eye, and a brand new suspension system that seemed to pay attention to every detail and need. The Automatic Ride Control system provided passengers of the car with a smooth, seemingly bump-free ride, even on the most uneven roads and streets. They also equipped the Silver Spirit with ABS brakes, which became the standard for the model. Upon the release of the car for that model year, the price for those shipped to Australia was set at $359,500. The changes went over well, and the Silver Spirit II enjoyed popularity as it was for another four years.
As if Father Time had given company bigwigs a cue, 1993 saw the production and release of the Silver Spirit Mark III. This particular series’ model saw some minor alterations to the engine, as well as some new safety features like standard dual airbags, which would one day be the norm on all automobile makes and models. The Silver Spirit Mark IV would be released two years later, in 1995. Only a few minor changes were made to the aesthetic and style, with the biggest change being the elimination of the Bosch fuel injection system, which was replaced with fuel injection by Zytec.
The Final Focus
The features mentioned above are only a few that were standard to this gorgeous vehicle; it was loaded with just about every modern convenience and amenity available to drivers, with each series model enjoying appropriate updates to the times. A variety of other changes were made over the years, including the installation of the Garrett Turbocharger, the complete elimination of the ‘Mark” series emblem on the body of the series IV vehicle (as it was also a symbol of death in some Middle Eastern countries), Electronic Traction Assistance System installation, and other mechanical improvements, but essentially, the model remained the same, with similar specs and features, for all intents and purposes. The Silver Spirit model was actually closed by Rolls-Royce in 1997, but production of the automobile continued into the year 2000, enabling the company to utilize remaining bodies that they had on hand. Fortunately, the car was loved and desired enough that there was no problem moving them, and the company was able to sell them just fine. Other sub-models followed, like the Park Ward Limousine, the Silver Spur models, and the Silver Dawn.
Today, Silver Spirits of any series model can typically be found very easily for those interested in buying. Prices vary, of course, but all run high, as can be expected. These cars were each beautiful and dependable upon their release, and those that have been properly loved and cared for still are beautiful and dependable today. Anyone who is lucky enough to have one would likely agree that there is no other way to treat a Rolls-Royce; it simply demands love and care.
If you are, or expect to be, one of those lucky owners, give your Silver Spirit the time and attention it deserves, and it will give you joy every time you drive it.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith