Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (1969)

  The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was an intriguing inclusion in the 1969 Hot Wheels line up.  Obviously, it represented a significant departure from the streamlined American muscle and fanciful show cars of the 1968 line up.  However, the Rolls fit nicely within a small group of European cars that included the classy Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, sporty Maserati Mistral, and Americanized versions of two stalwarts of middle-class Europe: the Volkswagen Beetle and Microbus.  Perhaps this European Series was intended by Mattel to even further extend the Hot Wheels craze beyond the kids of America!

Mattel's Silver Shadow was based upon the most innovative model yet produced by the venerable Rolls-Royce Motor Company of Great Britain.  First introduced in 1965, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I featured unitary construction, independent rear suspension with automatic level control and disc brakes all round.  Compared to previous models the offered substantially more room for the passengers, easier access for stowing luggage and drastically reduced height and weight. The aluminum-alloy 6.2 litre V8 engine's performance suffered to some extent from increasingly tight emission legislation in some countries, although this was compensated for in 1969-70 when the engine capacity was increased to 6.7 litres. Perfect workmanship of all components and a comprehensively equipped interior of unashamed luxury were the hallmark of this fine motor car.  Starting in 1966, two-door saloons were available and year later a convertible.  Only 20,605 Silver Shadow Is were built, including 16,700 of the four-door saloon on which the Mattel version is modeled.

A front view of Silver Shadows in light green and grey enamel.

The redline Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is a beautiful recreation of the real car.  It features an opening hood over a detailed bare metal engine, bare metal classic Rolls grille and bumpers, and painted marker and tail lights.  Produced only by Mattel's HK factory, all cars have blue-tinted glass and either a white or dark brown interior.

Although the Silver Shadow was produced in a number of spectraflame colors, the grey enamel version is the most common.  According to collector lore, Rolls-Royce was taken aback when they learned that Mattel had produced the car in colors other than the trademark "silver", and subsequently demanded that they re-paint the remaining production stock using the grey enamel.  Whether this is true or not, some number of grey enamel Silver Shadows have been found with underlying spectraflame paint.

Most Silver Shadows seem to have cap-style wheels, although it is not uncommon to find the earlier bearing-style wheels on this casting.  As with several other early castings, the Silver Shadow can be found both with and without a painted flat black roof.  Colors found with black roofs include grey enamel, yellow, light green, green, aqua, blue and red.

Orange, pink and purple are the most difficult-to-find colors for the Silver Shadow, and none of these have been seen with black roofs.  Pink cars were only available in the UK-packaged "European Series" blister packs.  One purple prototype Silver Shadow has been discovered.  This car features clear glass, unpainted marker, head and tail lights, casting differences around the hood and engine compartment, and a truncated engine compartment and firewall.

Above & below: a prototype Silver Shadow in Purple.  Note the differences in the engine bay
as compared to a production Silver Shadow (red).

Color chart

grey enamel
blue common
green common
grey enamel w/black roof
light green w/black roof uncommon
light green
aqua w/black roof
red w/black roof
blue w/black roof
hard to find
green w/black roof
hard to find
yellow hard to find
yellow w/black roof
very hard to find
very hard to find (Canada & Europe)
rare (UK only)
very rare

A red Silver Shadow with white interior in the blister pack.

Above & below: a rare pink Silver Shadow!

A terrific combination: spectraflame yellow with black roof and white interior.

A Silver Shadow in spectraflame orange.

The European Series cars included the Custom VW, Volkswagen Beach Bomb, Maserati Mistral,
Mercedes-Benz 280 SL and the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.

Photo & info credits: Rick Wilson & Jack Clark

Additional photo credits: Dave Thompson


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