The Rolls Royce Silver Spirit is one of the best known and familiar models produced in its 111-year history. The Silver Spirit, along with the long wheelbase Silver Spur, was produced from 1980 all the way to 1999. With revisions throughout this timeframe the Silver Spirit is a prestige vehicle of the highest order.
Rolls Royce has a rich history of making the most luxurious vehicles money can buy. Rolls Royce was founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce in 1906. Their first vehicle was named the Silver Ghost. Due to the highest level of engineering, Rolls Royce soon became known as “The best car in the World”. By 1980 the Silver Shadow had been in production for 15 years and Mercedes Benz and Jaguar had recently launched their updated S Class and XJ12 respectively. A bold new model was required to ensure Rolls Royce customers stayed loyal to the brand. The bigger and more modern Silver Spirit was launched in 1980 with Australian deliveries commencing in February 1981. The initial price was an eye watering $165,000.
The Silver Spirits styling was all new, although the proven 6.75 Litre V8 engine and 3 speed automatic transmission was carried over from the Silver Shadow. The longer wheelbase Silver Spur allowed the lucky rear seat occupants to have even greater legroom than the standard models already generous proportions. The Bentley Mulsanne was basically the same vehicle with a differing grille and interior trim, although the Mulsanne Turbo became available in 1982 with increased performance. The Bentley Eight was sold from 1984 (September 1987 in Australia) as an entry level model within the Bentley range.
The first major change to the Silver Spirit occurred in 1989 with the launch of the Silver Spirit II. This update saw the introduction of Automatic Ride Control, a complex suspension system that ensured maximum ride comfort when travelling over uneven surfaces. ABS brakes also became standard along with a thicker leather bound steering wheel and revisions to the dashboard. Australian pricing was $359,500. For the performance minded enthusiast the Bentley Turbo R combined higher performance along with stiffer suspension to provide additional roadholding at the limit.
1993 saw the introduction of the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit III, along with the Silver Spur III. From a safety perspective dual airbags became standard equipment, along with minor revisions to the engine. The Flying Spur and Silver Dawn limited editions were also available during the Mark III’s lifespan. The final major upgrade came with the Mark IV, although the boot badge simply stated Silver Spirit, with no mention of the Mark IV (unlike the boot badges of the II and III). Some styling revisions were made both externally and internally, with Zytec fuel injection replacing the previously used Bosch.