The arrival of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and Bentley T series in late 1965 marked a major change in Rolls-Royce motor cars; previously the products of Crewe had employed a separate chassis but here was a car using, for the first time in RR history, unitary construction of chassis and body. This change, brought about by modernised production methods and the demise of the old coachbuilding companies inevitably decreed more uniform coachwork compared to the elegant individual designs that had gone before – but underneath the skin the new Rolls-Royce and Bentley offered even greater engineering excellence and sophistication. At the Silver Shadow’s heart was Rolls-Royce’s familiar alloy V8 engine retaining the same 6,230cc as in the Silver Cloud III/S3 and a power output of around 220bhp. It was in the chassis, however, that important changes were made, most notably all-round independent suspension, including a sophisticated engine pump-driven self-levelling system, and disc brakes. The year after the Silver Shadow’s launch a two door coupe with coachwork by Mulliner Park Ward joined the line-up followed in 1968 by a similarly-styled drophead coupé. For 1969 all models had their interiors modified, while the following year engine capacity was increased to 6,750cc.
Two years later, in 1971, the two door coupé and drophead models were renamed Corniche, simultaneously receiving a 10% power increase over the four door Silver Shadow that increased top speed to 120mph and dropped the 0-60mph acceleration to 9.6 seconds, startling figures for the time. In 1972 the suspension was completely redesigned for the fitting of radial tyres, greatly enhancing the handling.
This is left hand drive example, originally delivered new in Southern California, and was exported to the Netherlands in 2009. In 2011 the car underwent a body off restoration totalling €52,000 and as such the paint, interior, body and chassis are all described as being in excellent condition and finished in dark blue with a contrasting sand interior.
In its day there was simply no more luxurious and flamboyant way to go top-down motoring – and indeed very few contemporary cars can match the Corniche for sheer style and comfort today.