It’s hard to maintain a Rolls Royce in Uganda - Rajiv

The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is a luxury car that was produced by British automaker Rolls-Royce in various forms from 1965 to 1980. Photo by Roland Nasasira.

What you need to know:

  • The adage that old is gold is what best describes Rajiv Ruparelia’s 1965 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce model saloon car. He refers to it as a comfort car rather than one driven for speed.

The Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is a four-speed automatic transmission saloon car that was built with a 4.6cc litre petrol engine. It is a five seater car with a maximum speed limit of upto 200km/hour.
“This car maintains old fashion circular headlights. It is one of the few cars that have a hydraulic steering wheel. Just to know that you are able to drive such a prestigious part of history and appreciate how far car technology has come in terms of mechanical engineering is what the beauty of driving such a car is,” Rajiv says.
On road performance, Rajiv states that; “I have driven it on a highway but did not observe how many kilometres it covers on one litre of fuel. With such a car, your mind is not on fuel consumption or performance on and off road. It is a car you drive to enjoy, not to see how fast it can go,” he adds.
Car interior
The external silver-ish colour of the 1965 model blends well with its cream interior. From the seats to the thick woolen carpets, a leather coated interior roof, the bigger section of the car interior is cream, except for the small sections of the dashboard, doors and steering wheel that are coated with shiny well-polished brown wooden trims, and black leather at the front most dashboard area. Its seats are soft that they submerge half your fist when dipped in a cushion. The front and rear sitting areas have enough leg room that allows you to stretch your legs.

Sourcing for spare parts
When it comes to spare parts sourcing, Rajiv prefers to use original parts mostly of the same Rolls Royce brand to keep and maintain the value of the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. He orders for most parts from the UK depending on the need.

Safety features
Much as it has no airbags, it still has its standard seatbelts and braking system intact. It is a car that was built with an extremely strong and hard steel metal body at a time when there were very few road accidents because there were not so many cars on the road.

General service
Rajiv services the Rolls Royce two to three times a year. On each service schedule, he spends approximately Shs5m to change car fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid, automatic transmission fluid, oil filter, air cleaner, among other parts.
“General service of looking after the car is done in Kampala after sourcing for spare parts. Sometimes when I am not able to get original parts, I work with the mechanic at home to incorporate other parts to get what to utilise for the car to move,” Rajiv says.

When the car could not move
Having been with the car for now three and a half years, the biggest problem Rajiv has ever got with it was when its oil sump was leaking. He could not drive the car. It took him six months to find a new compatible oil sump at $4000, which is approximately Shs14m.
“During the six months, I would start the car to keep the engine running and keep the battery charged. The mechanic used dark tape at the leaking part to stop the leakage. The oil pressure also went down during that period,” he recalls.

Downside of the Rolls Royce
Rajiv agrees that maintenance of the Rolls Royce in Uganda is hard. This is not only because there are no mechanics to repair the car but spare parts are also hard to come by and they are costly.

Production of the Silver Shadow
According to Wikipedia, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is a luxury car that was produced by British automaker Rolls-Royce in various forms from 1965 to 1980. It was the first by the marque to use unitary body and chassis construction. The Silver Shadow was produced from 1965 to 1976, and the Silver Shadow II from 1977 to 1980. During this period, 30,057 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows were produced.

Value for money
According to Rajiv, the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is not a car he drives every day. It is a classic investment he drives two to three times a year.
“When you look after such a car well, its value goes up overtime. The more you look after it, the longer it will last. The better and more different offers you receive for the car because it is a model no longer in production. It is one of the cars you buy to enjoy, look at, maintain and overtime earn some profit when you decide to sell,” he says.
To Rajiv, the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is incomparable to any other saloon car. This is because it has different technology and commands a different line of luxury.