Internal competition was rife between Rolls-Royce and Bentley models since the former acquired the latter in 1931. With T Series Bentleys fetching more than their Silver Shadow equivalents, is the same true for their Arnage and Silver Seraph descendants?
ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER SHADOW (1965-1980)
The Silver Shadow took Rolls-Royce into the modern age. Its first monocoque, the Silver Shadow ushered in a new era of silent V8 power as standard in the form of the carry over L-Series (appearing first in 6.2, then 6.75-litre capacities), using licensed Citroën hydropneumatics spheres to iron out the bumps and providing the back bone for the ‘SZ’ series of cars (Silver Spirit/Mulsanne) which lived in various modified forms until the Bentley Azure bowed out in 2003.
By Rolls-Royce standards, the Silver Shadow was a volume seller; as a result, prices, even for the extensively fettled 1977-1980 Shadow II and long-wheelbase Silver Wraith remain attainable in Rolls-Royce terms. From a pool of 3452 cars recorded, asking prices vary between £17,995 and £28,950. The Silver Shadow’s time as the archetypal wedding car is coming to end, but it remains one of the most accessible routes into Rolls-Royce ownership.
BENTLEY T SERIES (1965-1980)
The [slightly] more sober-suited foil to the Silver Shadow lived for the same time as its Rolls-Royce counterpart, but was considerably rarer; aside from bright work in the form of a polished Bentley grille (and a winged ‘B’), most T Series cars were identical to their Rolls-Royce counterparts.
For years, T Series cars were worth no more than equivalent Silver Shadows – but in recent years, asking prices between the two models have diverged. As a measure of its rarity, The Market saw just 13 T Series cars (dynamically revamped T2 included) sell from 2014 to the present day; away from the auction room, cars sell between private individuals, clubs and dealers. Use The Market’s scant data as a rough guide and a T Series will cost between £16,875 and £34,950 to put in your garage. While leggier T Series cars fetch less than Silver Shadows in similar condition, the better cars are leaving their brethren behind.
As with the Silver Shadow and Corniche, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Bentley Two Door Saloon and Dropheads are worth more than their Four Door Saloon equivalents; the prices above stand for ‘basic’ T1 and T2 models only.
ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER SERAPH (1998-2002)
The Silver Seraph and Bentley Arnage were the first all-new cars from Pyms Lane in nearly four decades. Then- parent firm Vickers sold the marques off before an increasingly complicated ownership battle ended up splitting the two marques twixt BMW and Volkswagen – but not before BMW designed two different engines to slot into the Rolls and Bentley body shells, preserving their respective identities. The former, powered by a heavily developed 5.4-litre BMW V12, would be launched as the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph; the latter Arnage, in its early years at least, made do with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo BMW V8.
Within a year, the Silver Seraph and Arnage had parted company – both in terms of drivetrain and ownership. Despite the inherent controversy in ‘losing’ Rolls-Royce to a German firm, marque loyalists reacted well to the Teutonically-powered Silver Seraph; a small production run while its Bavarian masters revived the Phantom nameplate did Rolls’ legacy no harm at all.
Silver Seraph asking prices are declining slightly year on year according to The Market – after it surveyed values of 745 cars. Well used but still serviceable cars start at around £34,500, rising to £59,995 for the very best low-mileage examples.
BENTLEY ARNAGE (1998-2009)
That the Arnage outlived the Silver Seraph by seven years is a testament to its staying power – and to the renewed appeal of the venerable 6.75-litre L-Series V8 once it found a new lease of life under the Arnage Red Label.
Purists disliked the 4.4-litre BMW V8 installed in early Arnages (later designated Green Label); its relative peakiness compared to the old L-Series did not endear it to Bentley enthusiasts, nor did the acrimonious rows between BMW and Volkswagen for control of their beloved marque. When all was said and done, Bentley was incorporated into VW’s burgeoning portfolio – which meant Munich’s 4.4-litre V8 had to go (lest the former supply the direct rival latter with engines).
Within a year, the 6.75-litre L Series had been dusted off, put through emissions testing and reunited with the General Motors 4L80E automatic gearbox – the only slush box available to Bentley which coped with the increase of torque from the older, single turbo engine.
Long-wheelbase Arnage RL, and twin-turbocharged R and T models would follow, along with Le Mans, Diamond and Final Series cars. The faster and limited-run Arnages pull a premium over the figures posted below; conversely, the unpopular BMW-engined Green Label cars typically fetch less. A small sample of Arnage Green Labels found on Car and Classic had asking prices between £16,400 and £24,950 at time of writing. With the best T Series cars pulling away from the earliest Arnages, the early Green Label cars are the cheapest Bentleys available.
Data from The Market suggests Arnage Red Label values are slightly depressed compared to last year. A long production run means that plenty are for sale. The Market’s price range – between £24,950 and £37,995 – came from number crunching 3457 Arnage sales.