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Rolls-Royce Corniche

Rolls-Royce Corniche Published: 30th Jul 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Corniche
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Stuart’s Corniche has hardly been the cream of the crop lately... CAR: Rolls-Royce Corniche YEAR: 1980 OWNER: Stuart Bladon

It was almost as if my Corniche just did not want to do that Classic cars rally organised by the Hants & Berks Motor Club! In May last year, we drove up to the start at Reading, were duly flagged away by the mayor no less, and then eight miles later, the engine suddenly cut out.

Rolls-Royces don’t breakdown like common cars, they ‘fail to proceed’ says the factory. It’s the same thing because after looking for possible causes, it was a case of AA to the rescue. And after trying to find what was wrong – ignition failure certainly – it was decided that we would have to be given recovery. Where to? they asked, and I chose ‘home’. Better to have it there in its garage to be attended to later, I thought.

My always helpful mechanic, Mike Tandy, owner of nearby Ashley Motor Repairs, came over, inspected and took away the engine’s electronic control unit, which is buried deep within the distributor, the coil, and the resistance unit which supplies highvoltage to the coil for cold starting and then reverts to 9 volts in normal running. A few days later he was back with all the units replaced.

The ignition coil was found to be working perfectly and so the old one was stowed away as a spare. With everything refitted, the engine started at the first turn of the key, and the car ran perfectly for 3500 miles and a year almost exactly to the day of the rally…

Retry at reading

Again, we drove up to Reading for the start of the same H&B rally, were flagged away by the mayor, but this time made only about 300 yards before another sudden engine failure. We were even still inside the park where the start was held; obviously, my Corniche didn’t wish to go rallying!

We now knew the procedure well. Call to the AA, visit by a patrol arriving very efficiently within the hour, testing everything obvious, and then declaring “we’ll have to arrange recovery for you.” Because of all this, I am becoming a bit of an authority on the AA’s Renault recovery lorries! This one was younger, being only 18 months old, and a bit quieter to ride in than the previous one, though the suspension still very lorry-like. Common to both of them was the excellence of the drivers, showing great ability in winching the car up on to the flat-bed, securing it, and driving very competently at around 50mph.

On arrival home, they reversed on to my awkwardly angled driveway and unloaded the stricken car straight into my garage, both showing great skill and consideration at the wheel.

A change from last year was that our dog, Monty, was not allowed in the cab, and had to travel alone in the Corniche, but he probably enjoyed a better ride there than we did!


The silver lady’s not for starting

Then came the inquest. What had caused it this time? Mike Tandy ordered up another replacement electronic control unit, and a few days later dismantled the distributor and fitted it. But to his surprise, that trusty V8 still refused to start. A little puzzled, Mike asked if I still had the previous resistance unit to hand, and fortunately I did although several times had thought that I should throw it away. The old unit was plugged in and immediately the engine responded!

So there was the answer. The first breakdown had been caused by the ECU in the distributor, and a perfectly sound resistance unit had been changed at the same time and this was the unit which had let me down the second time. I shall carry the replacement as a spare always from now on.

In the quiet time at the end of the year I intend to have the ignition coil and the resistance unit repositioned on a spare place at the side of the engine bay where they will be easier to test, and plus are not exposed to the heat and vibration of the engine where they are currently. What were the R-R engineers thinking of to bolt these two vital units to an inaccessible place at the back of the engine?

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece in this magazine on how my Rolls had cost virtually nothing to run; any repairs being negated by the car’s increasing value. The total cost for the latest escapade was over £800 but it was more the inconvenience factor that annoyed most, with the same fault happening at virtually the same spot! And it’s always something slightly amusing for other motorists to see a Rolls- Royce being transported home on the back of a recovery truck rather than serenely cruising along.

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