Recalling the firm’s glamorous Grandes Routières of pre-war days such as the Phantom II Continental, the coachbuilt variants of the new Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and T-Series Bentley were limited to just two: a two-door coupé or similar convertible, the former arriving in March 1966 and the latter in September the following year. Some of the frontal panels were shared with the standard four-door saloon but otherwise the new bodyshells were unique, featuring a distinctive dipping upper wing line with parallel crease, and revised, more rounded posterior. Construction involved shuttling the bodyshells between the Crewe factory and H J Mulliner Park Ward’s Willesden plant, a necessarily lengthy process that took all of 20 weeks for the saloon and slightly longer for the more complex convertible.
These exclusive cars were hand built in the best traditions of British coachbuilding using only materials of the finest quality including Wilton carpeting, Connolly hide and burr walnut veneers, such painstaking attention to detail resulting in a price some 50% higher than that of the standard Silver Shadow. Nevertheless, demand for these more glamorous alternatives to the much more numerous four-door model was strong right from the start, a state of affairs that resulted in them being given their own model name – ‘Corniche’ – in March 1971.
First registered in January 1974, this hand-built Corniche has covered a mere 67,600 miles to date with a good history file to warrant this figure. The service books are stamped 15 times up to 62,446 miles in March 2014, with a further scheduled service at 67,000 miles at Rolls Royce specialist Royce Service and Engineering in Surrey. Additionally the Corniche benefits from a desirable Harvey Bailey handling kit which transforms road-holding at higher speeds.
In previous ownership, an extensive overhaul was performed, consisting of a new propshaft, brake spheres and discs, front suspension mountings, engine mountings, exhaust mountings, radiator core, gearbox oil cooler pipes, attention to the power steering and air conditioning, and four new Avon tyres. The cost of this work was c. £9,000. In current ownership the Corniche has enjoyed a further ‘C’ service and inspection, with the odd minor niggle being rectified.
Finished in Seychelles blue, with light blue interior and dark blue piping, and offered with a Rolls-Royce hardback instruction book, service books, numerous bills and invoices with various specialists, previous MOT certificates and a fitted car cover, this is a good example of an exceptional driving gentleman’s express.