Three Tons Of Class: Rolls-Royce Throwing Its Weight Around


Smoothly, elegantly, the big Rolls-Royce is a world symbol of noblesse, discernment, and all of our impossible dreams. The 1985 Rolls Royce line continues to sport a 3-speed automatic transmission (GM turbo 400) body shell, dimensions, and 6.75-liter V8 engine. Today’s Rolls Royce have stiffer suspension, cast alloy wheels, grabber tyres, and disc brakes. Here is a car that is lacquered Buckingham Palace. Synonym for luxury. Drivers and passengers in a Rolls-Royce sit bolt upright on leather couches while listening to Vivaldi, peasants grovel at its passage, and Mercedes Benz owners look the other way—as you blow their doors off at 133 MPH.

The Rolls-Royce Silver Spur was built for those who “prefer to be driven.” It is 4 inches longer in the back passenger compartment than the standard model. There are no overlooked details – even the ashtray empties automatically into a hidden bin. No other vehicle (save jet airplanes) fills its hydraulic braking and suspension systems with extravagant and super-efficient mineral oil and then attaches a pair of cotton gloves to the top-up kit should m’lud have to perform that messy chore. Also, it’s not classy to be seen opening the bonnet to check the oil level. One simply pushes a dash button, and magically the oil level is displayed on the gas gauge.

Headlamp washers are not an option. The Silver Spur’s automatic a/c and heating system cost more than most small cars. As a result, the passengers have cool faces and warm toes – splayed out on genuine Australian lambs overlays over Wilton wool carpets. You can drive the car from Alaska to Arizona without once touching the comfort setting on the two dash dials marked from red to blue. The rear window defroster is activated by the first mist of a London fog. The matched hydes of 11 Scottish cows (unscratched by barbed wire – only board fences are used) cover the 540 square feet of upholstery.

Was all this worth $118,900 in 1985 (over $350,000 in 2021?) Of course. What genuinely makes Rolls-Royce worth more than a dozen Mazdas is the perfection of its engineering, an obsession with the sumptuous, the exquisite, and total precision. Consider the plastic slap-dash and air-gun tacking of a dozen cars per second on Tokyo’s assembly lines.

Each body shell is cleaned by hand five times before being hand primed and spray-painted. Pistons, valves, and crankshafts are individually machined and polished to micro-whisker tolerances—and then assembled by hand in oil baths to prevent dust contamination. From receipt of client specification to 87-point pre-delivery inspection takes three months. A Rolls-Royce whispers wealth to those who appreciate quieter things, Native Paintings, Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Rowing eights. And to hoof, the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur hard from a stoplight is to relish the astonishment of those who just KNEW that nothing this huge could motor that fast while building decibels no higher than a velvet gurgle. From the House of Lords to first-class on Pan AM to Rolls-Royce. The Royal road.

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