Rolls-Royce’s adoption of unitary construction for its new Silver Shadow and T-Series Bentley necessitated the reorganisation of in-house coachbuilder H J Mulliner, Park Ward to enable it to produce new designs on the Shadow floorpan. Recalling the firm’s glamorous Grands Routiers of pre-war days such as the Phantom II Continental, these final coachbuilt models 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 MPW’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.
In Corniche form Rolls-Royce’s well-tried 6.7-litre V8 produced around 10% more power than standard and proved capable of propelling the car to a top speed in excess of 120mph with sportscar-beating acceleration to match. The model proved a major success for Rolls-Royce; periodically revised and up-dated, it remained in production well into the 1990s, the last (Convertible) examples being delivered in 1995.
Finished in Balmoral Green Metallic with a Magnolia hide interior, this very well maintained example is offered with a fully stamped service record showing 23 Dealer Stamps from Jack Barclay and other Rolls-Royce dealers, supporting its 51,000 or so miles from new. Pleasingly, the Corniche is fitted with the desirable conversion to SU carburetors, a new mohair convertible roof and hood cover and a premium Becker hi-fi system. With recent expenditure to the suspension and offered with all books, many invoices and a current MoT certificate, this is a fine example of what must be the most relaxing and enjoyable way to travel.