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. 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.Easily one of the most recognisable models built by Rolls Royce, most people have seen a Corniche Convertible on television, in movies or on exotic locations around the world. As a sportier model than the Shadow, the Corniche features a rev. counter, 10% more engine power, and uprated suspension
This Corniche is one of the last with carburattors
Notable owners of this generation of Corniche include: Aristotle Onassis, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Liberace, Dean Martin, Zsa Zsa Gabor, David Attenborough, Dick Emery, James May and billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.