'The name Corniche has been chosen for the latest coachbuilt models because it symbolises their higher cruising speeds and their ability to cover greater distances with the minimum of fatigue for driver and passengers.' - Rolls-Royce.
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 floor pan. Recalling the firm's glamorous Grandes Routières 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 sports car-beating acceleration to match.
Despite its sky-high asking price, 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, by which time the car was being manufactured in improved Mark IV form.
Retained by the factory, this MkIV example is the last of the original Corniche series produced and is offered for sale by Bentley Motors. Its accompanying factory specification sheet lists the following non-standard features:
*Silver inlay to all woodwork
*R-R emblems to waist rails
*Woodwork to be medium tone and highly figured at time of build
*Air bag front and rear plus steering wheel cowl to be trimmed in Royal Blue hide
*Silver R-R logos to picnic tables
*Headlining - magnolia cloth
Currently in the process of having a registration number allocated by the DVLA, this historic Rolls-Royce is offered for sale freshly MoT'd and 'on the button'.