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Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible

Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible Published: 27th Jul 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible
Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible
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Three punctures in four months; is it a record, bad lack or something more serious?

Car: Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible Year: 1979 Owner: Stuart Bladon

On a journey in November we stopped at the local newsagent for a paper and returned to the Corniche to find a near-side back tyre flat. By a lucky chance, the car was parked right outside the garage of Milford Motors, and after a quick call I was invited to drive in to have the wheel changed, which was done straight away and very efficiently for £20. Even before the wheel was taken off, the cause was obvious: a shiny nail protruding from the shoulder of the tyre. We then continued our journey, only 20 minutes later than planned, with the punctured tyre in the wind-down tray beneath the boot, hoping that there wouldn’t be another puncture on our 120-mile trip. Lightning never strikes twice. Or does it?

Next day, the damaged wheel was taken to the very efficient New Milton Tyres, where it was decided that the hole left by the nail could not be filled safely because of its location, so we would have to have an inner tube fitted (I didn’t think you could do that anymore-ed).

The repaired wheel was then fitted to the car, and the spare became a spare again, all very reasonably charged at only £18.

Oh, not again…

Only two weeks and 200 miles later, a sudden feeling of instability at 70 + told that all was not well. We were on the always busy A34 dual carriageway which has no hard shoulder but frequent lay-bys and we swept into one of these to find, as suspected, the same tyre flat again. Often, I have suggested in print that one should get out the jack and wheelbrace on a sunny afternoon in summer and practise a wheel change, but I hadn’t followed my own advice and as a result had to make a novice approach at a DIY wheel change.

On the Corniche, there is a central jacking point with a flip-down cover just by the door, and with some trepidation I pulled out the huge winding handle jack which looked as if it had never been used in the car’s 36 years. It becomes quite hard work to turn the handle what seems like a hundred times, with increasing resistance as the full weight of the left side of the (pretty heavy) car begins to be raised. All the time, traffic was whizzing by and I was glad that the duff wheel was on the nearside.

I remembered the Rolls-Royce fad, that the wheel nuts on the left side of the car have reverse thread, turning clockwise to undo, and I was impressed at the sensibly large wheel nut spanner provided. The boot carpet was folded away to reveal the nut for lowering the spare wheel tray, again requiring many turns – but at least it worked smoothly and there was no difficulty in sliding the spare out. Lifting it up on to the wheel nuts also proved easier than expected, and after about half an hour of rather exhausting work we were ready to roll again and continued our 200-mile journey yet again hoping for the best with a flat spare.

On the next visit to New Milton Tyres, the mechanic pulled out a little plastic security tag from the inside of the tyre, which he said had chafed the inner tube causing the leak. I had some doubts about fitting another inner tube inside a tyre which had gone flat at speed and finished up badly crumpled, but was assured it would be OK. This was a mistake and purchase of a new tyre would have been wiser…

So £20 later we were under way again, once more with the repaired tyre as the running wheel and the spare in the wheel well.

Just a couple of months and 150 miles later, we were trickling quietly through the New Forest when suddenly there was an ominous rumbling noise, and I thought “here we go again”. At only 40mph, on the straight thankfully, there was no pull on the steering to reveal that we had a flat yet again, only the noise warned of the problem. I pulled as far as possible on to the grass to find as expected, the same tyre flat once more!

After the last episode my daughter had said kindly: “Dad, you shouldn’t be changing wheels at your age, you should get the AA.” Well, this time, it seemed good advice because the jack would just have sunk into the grass, and unlike the previous occasion it was bitterly cold.

When he arrived after only 40 minutes, the AA mechanic agreed that the car would have to be moved off the grass and back on to the road, so he parked his van with warning lights flashing well out behind the Corniche. It’s better to block half the road than leave it partially obstructed tempting drivers to squeeze through in the face of oncoming traffic. It’s surprising how many cars pour through the New Forest at 5pm.

The AA man couldn’t see where to locate his trolley jack, so he used again the car’s own screw pillar device, but I noted that he turned the handle much faster than I had managed – obviously the advantage of comparative youth and practice!

Getting serious

Now it’s back to New Milton Tyres where a new Avon whitewall will be fitted at the formidable price of £240. The damaged tyre, which had done only 12,000 miles and still had more than half the tread depth left, was too badly crumpled and had to be scrapped.

It’s sad that these tyre problems, which are no fault of the car, have marred an otherwise sound running record since the ignition problems encountered earlier last year were resolved. The Corniche is running very well, and is still a great pleasure to drive. The mileage is now nearing 40,000, but I’ve had my fill of changing tyres by the roadside, thanks.


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