by James Kraus
The 1960s were a time of change at the venerable firm of Rolls-Royce Limited. Although they only introduced a single new model, the Silver Shadow; the new car represented a huge break from RR traditions. Incorporating unitized monocoque construction, all disc brakes and independent rear suspension; the Silver Shadow also utilised self-levelling hydro-pneumatic suspension technology licensed from Citroën.
The new salooon was launched in 1965, the fixed-head coupé in 1966 and finally the drophead coupé in 1967. The Silver Shadow saloon, with its soft lines and rather innocuous shape lacked the presence to properly compliment the traditional large upright RR grille. It almost appeared as though the handcrafted stainless steel parthenon was stuck on at the last moment. The coupé and drophead coupé with their more more finely tailored sculpturing did not have this problem. The regal Rolls-Royce grill sat far more comfortably on the prow of the coupés.
The Rolls-Royce is first seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when Bond is kidnapped and escorted at gunpoint into the rear seat by operatives of Unione Corse, headed by Marc-Ange Draco. Monsieur Draco wants to discuss the romantic relationship of his daughter Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo with Mr. Bond.
The Drophead Coupé used in the film was finished in Astral Blue Metallic with black leather interior and black hood. It is registered on red temporary French plates displaying the Parisian 75 suffix.
Captivated by Tracy’s charms, 007’s next trip in the Rolls-Royce was as Monsieur Draco’s future son-in-law.
The Silver Shadow Coupés of the 1960s were the last classic Rolls-Royce motorcars; they were the final iterations imbued with elegance and élan whilst eschewing excessive ostentation. They were also the last of the line to carry the name of a coachbuilder, in this instance; Mulliner Park Ward.
In the early 1970’s the coupés would be renamed Corniches, a fact announced to all passersby via a chrome placard-style badge on the rear; a rather garish affliction, but characteristic of the decade which would also see the roof of Rolls-Royce saloons and hardtop coupés covered in available Superfly-style Everflex vinyl.