1992 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur

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IndyStar.com
There is life in the fast lane, life in the slow lane, and then there's life in the Rolls-Royce lane.

That's a life all its own, as driving a Rolls-Royce lifts one from the mundane to the more ethereal plains of motordom.

Most everyone knows the company makes very expensive automobiles, and without apology. The manufacturer's suggested retail prices range from $151,700 for the Silver Spirit II to $226,700 for the Corniche III convertible.

A bit below the midway point in the price structure of the "Rollers," as the cars are known among the automotive cognoscente, is the 1992 Silver Spur II. The Spur offers a bit more automobile than either the Spirit II or the Corniche. That quite sumptuous sedan's 124.5-inch wheelbase is longer than anything available on today's American market other than customized stretched limousines.

Its overall length, 211.4 inches, and height, 58.5 inches, give the Spur a commanding appearance.

The Spur II occupies its own price niche at $166,300, and for that amount of money it is not unreasonable for a motorist to expect a lot in return. The Spur provides it in two ways: quality and image.

The image is an intangible, but the quality of the automobile isn't. In a period of mass-produced cars untouched by human hands, a Spur still is the end product of much hand fabrication and assembly. And that is most evident in the automobile's appearance and operation.

No loose threads, jagged edges, or skewed screws, nuts or bolts here. Everything fits with micrometer precision. Switches or buttons turn or flip with fingertip ease. Compartment doors open and close almost with the exactness of a bank vault.

Hidden beneath the flowing sheet metal is the same kind of mechanical perfection. A big V-8 provides a smooth flow of power with hardly a sound. Rippling pavement seems to vanish within the depths of a compliant suspension system governed by automatic ride control.

Add to all this the fact that automation does virtually everything for the driver, and you have a motor vehicle that deserves the reputation accorded it from its pioneering days in the automobile industry.

The Spur II that I picked up at Albers Rolls-Royce in Zionsville was an extremely easy car to drive, maybe a little surprising considering its bulk. It did, however, take me about 30 minutes or so to settle in and learn where everything was located.

There is some individualism in the controls of a Spur, starting with the ignition switch located to the left of the steering column. But all instrumentation, including a 14-mode information center, is right in front of the driver.

The engine was 412 cubic inches of aluminum V-8, a size needed to move a vehicle this big because the car's weight is 5,240 pounds. Rolls does not publish horsepower or torque figures, simply stating instead, "It is sufficient." And it is.

Design-wise, the V-8 uses a time-tested push rod/rocker arm system for valve actuation, and it is smooth, quiet and strong. Just giving the engine the throttle brought instant response, launching 2 1/2 tons of car with verve.

Steering was light and accurate, the ride very easy, with the ride control adjusting instantly from soft to firm as conditions require. Driver and passengers sit in an elevated position for a commanding view of the road.

Use varies according to the type of clientele.

"If an older person drives the car, there is a good possibility he or she will drive it until their demise," said agency owner Herman Albers.

"If it's a younger person, no. It's difficult to say how long they will keep the car. It varies. There is no set pattern. But it's not like seeing everybody trade cars every year."

Albers says that most owners of high-line cars have more than one automobile, so a Rolls isn't necessarily a car for everyday use.

"Usually, they have several cars," he said. "And they use a Rolls for different occasions. On the average, I'd say one is driven about 5,000 miles a year."

Spur owners gene rally are between 40 and 60 years old. "You have some at both ends," Albers said, "But you have more above 60 than you do below 40."



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