Clark & Carter, a renowned British specialist, has created a remarkable commercial conversion of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow that surpasses previous transformations of luxury cars like Maserati and Ferrari. This extraordinary vehicle, designed to serve as a team support vehicle, is truly a work of art.
The story behind this inspirational transformation begins in the 1950s with a young man named Anthony Bamford, who is now a Lord and a respected industrialist in Britain. During that time, Bamford came across a Rolls-Royce 20/25 being used by the automaker’s factory. This encounter had a profound impact on him and, after sixty years, served as the driving force behind the creation of the ultimate paddock support vehicle.
In 2014, an already converted Silver Shadow was discovered in the United States. When Lord Bamford brought it to Clark & Carter’s workshop, they were taken aback. The car had a poorly executed white paint job, and the conversion itself seemed to have been done by someone with little skill. It featured unusual additions such as a gun rack, a drinks cabinet, and a deep shag-pile carpet. The bumpers were roughly cut, and wooden side trims reminiscent of a ‘Town and Country’ style had been installed. The shoddy panel gaps were brazed together and filled with putty in an attempt to fix these faults.
While America has seen a particular fondness for Rolls-Royce conversions, Clark & Carter’s team holds a greater reverence for the original purpose and design of the marque. They were influenced by John Blatchley’s original design for the Silver Shadow. Instead of covering up the rear quarterlight with a solid metal panel like other modified Shadows, Clark & Carter chose to keep it intact. They created fresh metal segments to maintain the car’s sleek appearance in the area where the back doors once stood.
Crafting the pick-up bed and fold-down tailgate proved to be a challenge. To ensure a lightweight and user-friendly design, the rear panel was made of aluminum. The unappealing rear bumper from the previous conversion was replaced with a corner piece created by cutting down a standard spare. Concealed underneath the bumper is a detachable panel that hides the hitching points for a towbar. The contour of the rear wing corners around the Shadow’s standard tail-lights is executed impeccably, and a plated molding along the top edge of the storage area provides the finishing touch.
The interior has been elegantly refurbished with luxurious slate-grey leather, evoking the atmosphere of a private gentlemen’s club. A black headlining adds to the sophisticated ambiance. The deep veneered dashboard remains, and the only visible modern addition is a new head unit. To ensure the security of valuables, a security box is installed behind the seats. The exceptional standard of workmanship is evident in every detail of the cabin.
The layout of the storage units in the back was carefully planned by Clark & Carter’s team with advice from JCB team mechanics. The challenge was to create a stylish rear storage space that would also function as a practical support vehicle. The design started simple but became more complex as they worked on it. The final product on the left side of the vehicle features a complete Rolls-Royce toolkit and jack, cleverly secured in place. The fittings have a distinct nautical feel, with old stock catches sourced online and some even handcrafted in-house. Solid teak is used to shield the edges of the units for protection.
To ensure functionality as a support vehicle, the side storage units were designed to carry the team’s equipment and spares. The fixed units hold toolboxes, race gear, and smaller spares, while the middle section has removable panels that allow for extra space to carry larger items like a back axle. The rear suspension was modified to support the heavy loads, with adjustable springs installed. However, the rest of the mechanical specifications remain unchanged to maintain the car’s original performance.
When driving this luxurious car, the smooth V8 engine sound and the plush cabin make you forget its practical conversion. The exceptional ride quality, powerful acceleration, effortless steering, and smooth cornering create an exhilarating driving experience reminiscent of scenes from the Thomas Crown Affair. It’s a delight to see people admire the iconic front of the car, only to be surprised by its unique and remarkable rear end.