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Curious: Old Rolls-Royces?

Hey all -- I want to preface this by saying that I have no intention of seeking out or buying an old Rolls-Royce, I'm just posting this out of curiosity and my own edification. I'm relatively clueless when it comes to this particular corner of the automotive world.

I've noticed that, here and there, you often see nice "old" (late 70s/early 80s) era Rolls-Royces for sale relatively cheaply (under 20 grand), compared to what they cost new. We all know how freaking expensive they are, and unique, and hand-build, and how expensive the used parts probably are...

Part of me thinks, "hey, that could be a cool old car for Sunday drives with the family!" So here's the question: why are old ones so cheap? Are they just in the "desirability trough" right now? New ones are ridiculously expensive, and REALLY old ones are ridiculously expensive, but those 70s/80s ones seem pretty affordable.

And here's the inevitable follow-up question: are they so cheap because maintaining one would be a nightmare? They are more-or-less known for their build quality, right? Would it be prohibitively expensive to keep and maintain one due to the price of parts and the unique mechanical expertise needed?

Again, I'm just curious.
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Old 04-22-2018, 04:37 AM
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I’ve had the same thoughts, except related to old Bentleys as well. I suspect they are crazy expensive to maintain but I’ll be curious if anyone here has first hand knowledge.
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Old 04-22-2018, 04:52 AM
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I'm wondering if part of it is simply (to paraphrase Robert Duvall in "Gone in 60 Seconds"), "who the hell would want to buy a 1988 Rolls-Royce?!"

In other words: what makes them attractive to many buyers is that buying a new one screams "I'm rich as hell," while buying a used one screams "I'm not rich, but I like pretending I am." It's different than buying a used Porsche or Ferrari, because with the used status sports cars, a main attraction is the driving dynamics.

Just a theory.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:04 AM
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Its pleasing that its not just me then... this thing keeps winking:

https://denver.craigslist.org/cto/d/1969-rolls-royce/6565495482.html

I think it would look cool murdered out and running 19" rims.

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Old 04-22-2018, 05:10 AM
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They look easy to work on and I think maintaining them is no more difficult than the same generation BMW \ Mercedes many of us have cut our teeth on.

Some specific parts might be spendy, but there is great forum and online camaraderie to ease ownership....

My dear Dad always wanted one for years and years, but was too cheap to buy one (even at less than $20k), so now he drives a Hyundai Elantra

You live once do it!
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:22 AM
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I mean, come on -- this is a cool car.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1978-rolls-royce-silver-wraith-4/
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slow&rusty View Post
They look easy to work on and I think maintaining them is no more difficult than the same generation BMW \ Mercedes many of us have cut our teeth on.

Some specific parts might be spendy, but there is great forum and online camaraderie to ease ownership....

My dear Dad always wanted one for years and years, but was too cheap to buy one (even at less than $20k), so now he drives a Hyundai Elantra

You live once do it!
What are the popular online forums? I'd be interested in lurking for awhile to see what I could learn...
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:29 AM
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I dunno. I once heard that people don't buy a product, they buy a perception of a product. Are we sure this interest isn't a great example of that idea? Beyond the name and how ridiculously far they have depreciated, what makes them great cars?
Old 04-22-2018, 05:45 AM
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Always wondered about them too. No knowledge of my own, just passing on. This looks to offer a wealth of info, but may need to join?
Technical Assistance - Rolls-Royce and Bentley Forums
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pavulon View Post
I dunno. I once heard that people don't buy a product, they buy a perception of a product. Are we sure this interest isn't a great example of that idea? Beyond the name and how ridiculously far they have depreciated, what makes them great cars?
Well, sure -- I agree to a point. After all, we all know that certain makes have recurring issues that practically make them into stereotypes (Jags and their wiring, etc), and they're still sought-after. A friend of mine has a Triumph TR6 that is just one issue after another... and I still think the car is cool as hell. Ditto with old Alfas, Fiats... I think part of the allure of a Rolls is that they are hand-built, built to a very high standard, they look different, are very luxurious, and are just... different. Same reason I like old Saabs and Volvos... or air-cooled Porsches, for that matter.

I can't say anything about actual quality, of course. I simply don't know. But they are interesting, that's for sure.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:53 AM
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My quick research many years ago was that the gas mileage was miserable, like 6 miles per gallon or so!

I also donít think driving one would be that much fun- smooth and powerful, but just a cruiser.

Iím real cheap when it comes to consumables, so anything less than about twenty mpg would just about kill me.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:58 AM
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Back in the UK I worked on a few of these and About the only thing inexpensive on a Silver Shadow or Wraith is the transmissions as they are GM sourced. The brakes are a Citroen design but due to the various RR modifications a rebuild is easily $5k. The motors are pretty unstressed as they are a 6.7 liter but you are still looking at some serious coin if it has had issues. The interiors are horrendously expensive to restore (Wilter carpets and Connolly hides) and do not like hot climates. Yes you can buy a late 20th Century RR for what looks like a low price of entry but upkeep will beggar you.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:07 AM
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There's a nice article in Car & Driver about why there are really cheap Bentleys in used parking lots. It's along the same lines as CJFusco's post above.
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Not the sort of car I like, ponderous. Perhaps if I drove people around more than I do. If I am driving the folks, I like to take their Lincoln.


I tend towards soft tops with little to no backseat
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:12 AM
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To answer the OP, they are cheap because they are so expensive to maintain.
They are on Ferrari level not BMW in parts cost.
If they had some Italian looks and were a sports car there might be a crowd who could justify the expense, but there is not that cache with them.
Old 04-22-2018, 06:14 AM
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I think driving dynamics is a great reason to own one. Bank vault quiet, smooth as silk, oozes quality, etc. Not everyone wants a hobby car to carve mountains with.

My guess is the same phenomenon we see with late 80’s Mercedes. Dirt cheap to buy but cost of many parts and service are prohibitive. Heater control module on a $3000 MB could run you 2/3 of the cars value sending you underwater very quickly. Just buy one that the seller promises won’t break. All good.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:17 AM
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I know of 3 locally. All 3 are very different cars.

One is on blocks in a trailer park of all places. Been there for years. It's brown, had a tarp on it at one time but is parked in front of an 80's Buick. Owned by some old lady.

Second I see driven around town quite often. It's blue, driven by an older gentleman, is in perfect shape, not a scratch on it. He keeps it shiny. Sounds amazing, looks like it rides amazing and he just drives it.

The third is (was) owned by a limo company. They rent(ed) it out for weddings. Talked to the owner of the limo company about it and he said he will never get another one. He said every time he took it out something on it broke. And the rental price never covered the cost of the repair. It has (or had, it's been about 10 years since I've seen it around) 70K miles on it and he told me he had spent over $10K repairing little things on the car. Making windows work, turn signals, wiring, brakes, etc. And that getting new parts was a nightmare, never mind used parts. When he gave me a ride in the thing it wasn't what I was expecting. At all. It did NOT ride like I thought a Rolls would. More like a station wagon with a pallet of bricks in the back. It just felt heavy. I presume he had gotten one of the cheap ones.

With that said, I assume it's like any other car. You get what you pay for. You can either buy a $30K car or a $10K car and put $20K into it.
Old 04-22-2018, 06:23 AM
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I think an older 450+ HP Bentley Arnage would be a pretty fun daily driver.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drkshdw View Post
I know of 3 locally. All 3 are very different cars.

One is on blocks in a trailer park of all places. Been there for years. It's brown, had a tarp on it at one time but is parked in front of an 80's Buick. Owned by some old lady.

Second I see driven around town quite often. It's blue, driven by an older gentleman, is in perfect shape, not a scratch on it. He keeps it shiny. Sounds amazing, looks like it rides amazing and he just drives it.

The third is (was) owned by a limo company. They rent(ed) it out for weddings. Talked to the owner of the limo company about it and he said he will never get another one. He said every time he took it out something on it broke. And the rental price never covered the cost of the repair. It has (or had, it's been about 10 years since I've seen it around) 70K miles on it and he told me he had spent over $10K repairing little things on the car. Making windows work, turn signals, wiring, brakes, etc. And that getting new parts was a nightmare, never mind used parts. When he gave me a ride in the thing it wasn't what I was expecting. At all. It did NOT ride like I thought a Rolls would. More like a station wagon with a pallet of bricks in the back. It just felt heavy. I presume he had gotten one of the cheap ones.

With that said, I assume it's like any other car. You get what you pay for. You can either buy a $30K car or a $10K car and put $20K into it.
I wonder what to account for the differences. Different models/years?
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocaholic View Post
Just buy one that the seller promises wonít break. All good.
still laughing! Thank you.
Old 04-22-2018, 06:28 AM
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