George Best’s ‘Roller’ under the hammer in Cambridge
H&H Classics will be selling George Best’s 1972 white Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow at its Duxford sale on October 12 at the Imperial War Museum. It is estimated to sell for £10,000 to £15,000.
Best became one of the first celebrity footballers, but ultimately fell victim to his alcoholism in 2005 aged 59. He scored 137 times for Manchester United in 361 appearances. He helped his team to victory in the European Cup and was crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1968, but to some he was more famous for his off-field behaviour.
He was once quoted as saying: "I spent 90 per cent of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I wasted.”
Launched in 1965, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was a bold departure for the Crewe-based manufacturer whose CEO is now former ARM Holdings boss Warren East.
The company’s first monocoque design, the car also benefited from olio-pneumatic rear suspension, power disc brakes and, from 1968, GM’s silken 400 series automatic gearbox.
The 'new technology' did not encroach on the luxurious interior with its leather hides, rich wood veneers and deep lambswool carpets. Performance from the smooth 6230cc V8 engine (upgraded to 6750cc in 1970) was assured.
The luxury saloon was supplied new to Grassicks Garage in Perth, Scotland as a ‘trials car’ in June 1972. A letter on file from Tony Clark of Grassicks reveals that the car was sold to Best before the Scottish Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari distributor even had chance to open a service record for it.
No stranger to publicity, Best and his new acquisition were photographed by the Daily Mirror in the showrooms of Ian Anthony Car Sales in December 1972. The car has sported various registration numbers over the past 44 years but on that occasion wore plates advertising Mr. Anthony’s Manchester-based dealership.
Best is understood to have been only too happy to promote his friend’s business. The Roller was also pictured outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground with a surprised owner turning round just as he was about to open the driver’s door to the delight of waiting paparazzi.
Repainted since belonging to Best, the Silver Shadow still retains its original steering wheel and black leather upholstery so the next owner will not only be driving a car that Best owned in his heyday but also sitting on the same leather.
Acquired by its last registered keeper during 1994, the car has had some £22,000 spent on it over the last 22 years.