This 1978 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Lives In The Shadows
Can 39 years of Floridian sun turn this Rolls into a rolling relic? Not if you learn to keep it waxed and garaged.
Imagine it's 1978. You just happily retired at the somewhat young age of 63 and moved to the hot and humid confines of West Palm Beach, Florida. My condolences on your recent terrible decision making, but hey! The local buffets are all you can eat for $1.99. The beaches aren't loaded with tourists quite yet, and the Sunshine State has a unique tax structure that lets you keep your wallet fat and happy.
Speaking of which, you need wheels.
So with all the extra money you have, you can invest in something rather nice to bring to the local Shoney's. Let's say a 1978 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. Would you consider this a solid daily driver? Even with gas prices showing more volatility than a modern day Trump tweet?
Before you answer "Yes!", "No!", or "Are you crazy?!", let me give you a grasp of that unique time and place that was Florida in 1978.
Disneyworld was just the Magic Kingdom along with a few nearby resorts and hotels.
Real estate was jaw dropping in affordability if not in taste. As in cheaper than a wore out mop. You could get an incredibly nice five bedroom house in a golfing community for less than $250,000 in today's dollars. Interest rates were well into the double-digits, but that wouldn't matter because, guess what? You're a rich fella! You can pay cash and buy all the green and rust colored shag carpet you desire along with purchasing your vinyl records in bulk.
Oranges and orange juice were all over the place. Unlike today's pinko commie politically correct world, oranges weren't discriminated against just because they gave you a healthy sugar high and tooth decay. Orange juice was also dirt cheap. unlike today.
Most of America was still normal shaped because we weren't consuming high levels of chemicals, preservatives, and growth hormones. That means luxury cars weren't quite yet designed to fit the outsized asses that now exist.
Speaking of length (and girth), luxury cars used to have long very model runs. From the 1970s to 1990s, the Mercedes S-Class would typically be made for at least a decade if not longer. Back in 1978, Mercedes was still producing its first generation S-Class, and most older Americans still remembered the big one. Japanese cars weren't even Camry-sized quite yet. Which means, if you wanted the pinnacle of luxury in the 1970s and didn't want to buy a Benz, you had a choice of only three brands.
The first was whatever cost-cutting Cadillac you desired. By the way, I owned the late-1970s Cadillac Eldorado you see here, and other than the Elvis approved leather seats and cheap window vents, the driving experience wasn't much different from an oversized mid-1970s Buick convertible from the same time period.
If you didn't want two doors a convertible, you were mainly stuck with Cadillacs that featured ugly egg crate grilles, bland exteriors, smidgens of power, and piss poor performance. The Cadillac division went into a deep hibernation once the 1973 oil crisis collided with GM's oversized army of paper shufflers and accountants. So trust me. You probably didn't want a Cadillac.
Lincolns were no better unless you wanted a two-door model. The Mark V coupe was Americana incarnate in all the right ways. But let's assume you wanted four doors instead of two and your wallet was as large as, well, this Lincoln.
This would have been your rolling version of luxury nirvana. 4700 pounds of beauty crafted by hand with a 6.75 liter L Series V8 engine that's still in production today. This 1978 Silver Shadow II was one of fewer than 2,500 built that year and if you're looking for a true classic, the lines on this model are as drop dead gorgeous now as they were back in the Malaise Era, if not more so.
Wanna keeper? Are you willing to pay dearly for the privilege? Most of these late-1970s Silver Shadows retail for anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 and they aren't usually as hard on the wallet as you would expect. A good independent mechanic with a penchant for classics could make this a keeper worth keeping.