Promenading, Rolls Royce style
I’m a serial car buyer. Not like a serial killer, you understand. More a serial lover. I warm to the glow of freshly waxed paintwork. Appreciate the lines of a nicely rounded fender. Savour the soft gleam of a cabriolet’s polished wing. I can distinguish the roar of a Maserati from the growl of a Porsche in a distant valley. Cars are my hobby.
It’s not a solitary thing, and I’m clearly not alone. Last month we packed a picnic for the Castle Howard prom — over in York. To my delight, as we arrived, a splendid cavalcade of vintage Rolls Royce cars swung down the drive, as though we’d stepped back in time to the grand old days of this fabulous stately home. What a sight as they purred their way to the entrance bearing a flotilla of VIP promenaders.
I’m a little hazey on the concert programme, maybe a Bach 3rd, but a gentleman with a 1978 mink Silver Shadow II still stands out, crystal clear, in my mind. It’s easy, when there’s a mutual object of admiration, to chat. He’d only recently acquired this very fine motor and was charming and generous in showing me its immaculate interior. He’d bought it ‘for taking the wife out’ to special occasions and found that he enjoyed being part of the Rolls Royce Owners Club. The Club had invited the couple and their car to Castle Howard for the prom. What a lovely idea.
His wife, like mine, probably has a far clearer memory of the symphonies and the beautiful surroundings. The picnic proms at Castle Howard are a fine evening out with music and fireworks in a spectacular backdrop. But I’m still very taken with the car.
The Rolls Royce Silver Cloud is still pretty much my favourite vintage roller but this Silver Shadow II was immaculate in every way. The squarer lines of the first Shadow were a break with the past, a product of the sixties, and intended by Rolls Royce to be modern and contemporary. It represented a leap forward into the modern era for Rolls Royce, as cars stopped being the province of the very wealthy (and the roads became busier!). In the seventies the car was developed further and reclassed the Shadow II. In these later cars, this approach was really bedded in, giving a car with purpose and gravitas. One that looked completely at home parked in front of the grand frontage of Castle Howard.
There have been times when I’ve been driving a lot and I’ve changed my cars on an almost monthly basis so I’m sure the little Porsche we drove home in gave me a sideways glance to check she wasn’t being eyed up for part exchange. Not this time — I can admire a vintage Rolls Royce and like the idea of joining the select band of owners (and these days they’re not exorbitant to buy or insure), but they’re better suited to genteel weekend drives on the country lanes of York than nipping up and down the steep narrow tracks of my home town of Hebden Bridge.
First published on the Direct Gap blog.