What price a Rolls?

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Sue Barker got her piece in Saga magazine about buying a used Royce just in time, before the sellout to VW had people calling these cars by vulgar names, like Rolls-Vagen and Volk-Royce. She made a case for having such a car, to enjoy “the ultimate in automotive luxury” with R-R or Bentley, especially for the over-50s, or to enjoy “the enormous cachet, sumptuous comfort and the quiet satisfaction of exemplary workmanship” even of an ancient and used Royce. Although the signatures on the German takeover were hardly dry, she prophesied that nothing of this will alter. I am appalled at the very expression of doubt over this hoped-for truth!

Building her case, Sue tells us that “an old Rolls-Royce is just as impressive, but agreeably less ostentatious than a new one” tell that to one who has just spent £150,000 on a Silver Seraph.. These, says Sue, smack of “young enterpreneurism and possess less character than those old ones you can now buy with dignified old money and not necessarily all that much of it”. Tell that, too, to those who queuing up to invest in the first new R-R model for 18 years. Sue is thinking of those R-Rs 15 or more years old or, say, a 1970s Silver Shadow for around £12,000 upwards, in which to “glide along cosetted in leather and burr walnut, behind an exquisite winged Spirit of Ecstasy mascot”. Fine, fine, Sue, but for how long, remembering that a Shadow is an extremely complicated car with all sorts of things requiring specialist servicing, and what of the oversize trouser-pocket in which to carry Ecstasy after you have parked? And don’t park just anywhere if you wish to avoid scratches, or worse, on the body of your Shadow that is, if you can find anywhere in which its bulk can be parked…

But I must be fair. Sue Baker is aware of the effort required to manoeuvre a Cloud sans power steering, which might put off a man with a driving wife from getting one for £10,000 or less. But she sees such problems offset by the inquisitive stares to see whether you are an R-R conveyed celebrity, or doormen at posh or hotels rushing to open your doors and of “gaining entry to a whole world of subtle deference.” I am here reminded of a very great writer who told in Punch of how having an aged Royce quite changed her life in these ways. Sue also tells Sagaites of the “vibrant social life” open to members of the R-R EC well, they do net a creditable number of monthly new recruits, not all of whom go for pre-owned models.

I do not for one moment think, Sue, that, apart from journalism, you deal in what are called “previously owned” Royces. I know Clouds are the personification of the R-R mystique, Shadows well engineered motor cam. k’s just that even Royces can feel their age; once when bemoaning how rusty a cheap saloon had become, Jenks, to cheer me up, said “Bod, in Germany most taxi-ranks are full of out-dated Mercedes-Benz and if you look carefully you will see much rust…” Only joking, Sue. Your piece for Saga was perfect. I could not have done it better myself.

At a recent H&H auction, a 1971 Silver Shadow One sold for £4410.