Float like a Silver Shadow, sting like a bee. Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali never actually described himself that way—it was “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”—but the analogy would have worked either way, since the smooth, stable ride of a Rolls-Royce can be described as “floating.”
No wonder the smooth-talking, often-quoted Ali owned several Rolls during his lifetime.
Bonhams will auction one of the champ’s British beauties, a stunning 1970 Silver Shadow convertible, at The Zoute Sale on October 5 in Belgium. The pre-auction estimate is €40,000–€60,000 ($47,000–$70,000). The car is being offered without reserve.
The Rolls-Royce is one of 272 left-hand-drive Silver Shadow convertibles styled by H.J. Mulliner Park Ward. Bonhams said that Ali purchased the hand-built luxury automobile in New Jersey in December 1970 for about $16,000, which is approximately $104,625 today. At the time it was the company’s most expensive model, pairing the greatest Rolls-Royce with the world’s greatest boxer. (He was undefeated at the time, and finished his career with a 56-5 record.)
Owned by Ali for six years, the Silver Shadow has 4475 miles on the odometer and has never been fully restored. Among its features are walnut veneers, leather upholstery, and optional headrests. Powered by a 6.75-liter V-8 engine, the car weighs a hefty 4816 pounds—4606 more than the 210 Ali weighed when he won his first heavyweight championship (as Cassius Clay) in 1964, and 4580 more than when he tipped the scales at 236 for his final fight in 1981.
Considered the ultimate personal luxury car, the Silver Shadow convertible was a popular choice of the rich and famous. Among the model’s notable owners were Paul McCartney, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Liberace, Aristotle Onassis, and, of course, Ali, who was floored by the Silver Shadow long before he was knocked out in the ring.