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Rolls-Royce Corniche

Rolls-Royce Corniche Published: 21st Jul 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Corniche
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TASTY CORNICHE CREAM

IN BRIEF

On the surface it’s simply a two-door Silver Shadow or Bentley T1 but in reality this coupé or drophead is one of the classiest and most delectable classics you could wish for, being full of good taste and almost ageless in appeal – witness the fact that it stayed in production well after the Shadow (and Bentley T1/T2) had been discontinued.

TIMELINES

1966 Two-door Shadow and Bentley T1 introduced, made by coachbuilder Mulliner Park Ward in Willesden.

1967 In September, a ‘proper’ convertible version was launched, with an electric roof.

1971 Relaunched simply as the Corniche both in Rolls and Bentley forms. Outside, to give a more sporting appearance, the radiator was raked forward and was half an inch deeper. Under the bonnet there was now a four-barrel downdraught carburettor instead of twin SUs and the compression ratio was also increased for more power.

1977 Corniche is heavily revised, with the most obvious changes being the split level automatic air conditioning and the rubber faced bumpers from the Shadow II/T2. Mechanically, the biggest improvement was the fitting of a rack and pinion steering replacing the old recirculating ball set up.

1979 Receives Silver Spirit rear suspension and mineral oil hydraulics. At the same time, the two-door saloon version was quietly phased out.

1989 Corniche III arrives with active suspension, ABS and fuel injection.

1992 Corniche IV and the rarer Bentley versions were both dubbed ‘Continental’ from 1984. The final run of 25 cars was designated Corniche S in 1995 and they came with Mulsanne Turbo power.

DRIVING

A coachbuilt Rolls-Royce is an occasion each time you climb aboard – even for the shortest journey – and the Corniche is no different. The suspension is still very soft and takes some getting used to if you want to travel fast over country roads, but that’s missing the point of a Corniche by a mile. Wafting along a fast A road sees this majestic classic in its element and there are few modern cars with such a pliant ride.

A 0-60 time of around 10 seconds and a 120mph top speed ensure this old timer can still hold its own in modern traffic. Clearly, post ’89 versions with ABS, active suspension, and fuel injection are the best performers with the Turbos a real surprise!

BEST MODELS

In common with the Shadow, the later the car the better developed it became, with the 1977 year cars enjoying much better handling. That said, some actually prefer the more vintage feel of the earlier variants, particularly if speed and sportiness is not a priority – and nor should it be with these lovely cultured cruisers!
VALUES

Basically cream Corniches can sell for the same money as the later Bentley Azure and sometimes more despite being the older car. This means that you are looking at anything between £40,000 + for an early 80’s model to perhaps double this for a late run out model or the rarer Bentley versions. Currently Hanwells of Uxbridge, London has three on offer with prices starting at £53K, meaning that values are in the region of three times that of an equivalent Shadow saloon and this includes the fixedheads!

BUYING ADVICE

With a Corniche you usually get what you pay for so beware of cheap bargains. Rust watch areas are sills, wheel arches and floor pan. Lift the carpets in the front to check for damp as this will rot out the footwell. Don’t overlook body damage on the Corniche as this is hideously expensive to put right if panel replacement is necessary. They were all hand crafted and so no two are exactly the same, meaning they give bodyshops a real headache – and for that, read expense! Likewise, the interiors are costly to bring back to new standards. Beware of two-tone resprays as this looks good – but hides rust?



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