Great British Classics

1978 Rolls-Royce Corniche

£47,995 | Location: United Kingdom

Model History:

Produced from 1971 to 1995 the Rolls-Royce Corniche was developed as a luxury tourer based on the existing silver shadow platform. Coupe and convertible bodies were available, with the new car aptly named after a notoriously sunny Grande Corniche costal road which runs along the French Riviera above the principality of Monaco.

Equipped with Rolls-Royce’s 6.75L V8, which was updated to a single Solex 4A1 four-barrel carburettor in 1977, the Corniche produced approximately 237bhp which pushed it onto a top speed of 118mph. Considering the Corniche was over 3m long (3048 mm wheelbase) and weighed in at 2,185kg, those numbers were mightily impressive.

Speed however, was not the main focus of the Corniche. Its main focus was comfort; fitted with Rolls-Royce’s patented hydraulic self-levelling system the car was able to augment its four wheel independent suspension system to continuously damp and level the ride to give the occupants of the car the smoothest possible journey. This hi-tech solution, paired with a fully coach built body and opulent wooden/leather interiors meant that the Corniche was a luxury that few could afford, known to sell new at over £36,000 when new in the 1970’s

In 1977 the car received a face lift, which included rack-and-pinion steering, alloy and rubber bumpers, aluminium radiator, oil cooler and a bi-level air conditioning system. In March 1981, after the Silver Spirit had gone on sale, the Coupé version of the Corniche and its Bentley sister were discontinued. Production totalled 1,090 Rolls-Royce Corniche Coupes and 3,239 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertibles.

Equipment:

3 Speed Automatic, Solex 4A1 four-barrel carburettor, Disc Brakes, Highland Green Paint, Red Leather (VM.3086), Green Carpet (12), “Monte Carlo” Everflex Webasto Sunroof, Blaupunkt AM/FM Radio, Pioneer Cassette Player, Electric Adjustable seats, Electric Windows, Air Conditioning, Front & Rear Cigarette Lighters, Fog-lights, Dash Clock, Walnut Veneer, Beige Ambla Leather Headlining, Central Locking, Front Cup holders.

Exterior:

The iconic chrome grille topped with the “Flying Lady” ornament has been a motif of luxury for decades and it’s no different with the Corniche, handcrafted by legendary coach builders Mulliner Park Ward the striking silhouette is a testament to the brands level of artistry and design.

Finished in a classic shade of Highland Green its huge stature in perfectly proportioned, with chrome trim and a subtle red pinstripe beautifully framing the cars sweeping lines. Paintwork sits with a deep and even shine, with nothing more than a couple of small imperfections to note, this example has clearly been cherished throughout its long life.

Interior:

If luxury describes the exterior of the car the opulence seems fitting for its interior; an incredible combination of the highest quality leather and walnut trim, its smell and feel resembles the sitting room of a manor house than a car. The vibrant red seats are a classic combination with the Highland Green coachwork, clearly designed exclusively for comfort they provide unparalleled support and cushioning for both the driver and passengers. Chrome switchgear and trim provides a spectacularly tactile user experience, all machined by hand it still functions well over 40 years after its production.

Technology may not be current in the Corniche but quality of the original Blaupunkt radio and period Pioneer cassette player have definitely stood the test of time. Paired with factory specified air conditioning and a marvellous “Monte Carlo” Webasto Sunroof that opens the length of the roof to enjoy the sunshine, the Corniche has all the makings of a perfect grand-tourer in just about any climate.

Engine & Transmission:

Fitted with Rolls-Royce’s own 6.75l L410 V8, the engine has been produced from 1968 up until the current day. This 52 year stint makes it the 2nd longest production run for an engine in the world, and its easy to see why. Turn the key and the engine bursts into life, quickly settling into a smooth purposeful idle. Under load it produces a signature V8 burble; refined enough to not penetrate the cabin but meaningful enough to realise the Cornice is no slouch. With 237bhp and a top speed of 118mph the V8 power delivery is linear an smooth, clearly designed to cruise in luxury.

A dense log of invoices over the years makes clear that this car has wanted for nothing throughout its life; with over £13k worth of invoices available since 2017 alone which includes a carburettor rebuild, new manifold gaskets and a suspension overhaul just to list a small portion of the work undertaken.

Wheels, Tyres & Brakes:

Chrome Rolls-Royce hubcaps stand out beautifully against the metallic green coachwork and present in excellent condition, free from any scuffs of fading. They are shod in period Avon white wall tyres, all with good tread remaining, which complete the vintage charm of the Corniche.

History File:

This Corniche was delivered new to Northern Ireland on 22/09/1978 as outlined by a copy of the original invoice and delivery note at a cost of £33,896. The invoice and accompanying build list shows the factory spec to include Highland Green Paint, Red WM.3086 Leather and an Everflex “Monte Carlo” opening roof.

Although copies of the original paperwork are present, not much is know about the early history of the car after delivery to its first owner. A log of MOT history verifies it arrived back in England in 2005 followed by English addressed invoices staring from 2007, where the car was subject to a huge amount of work from marque specialists CA Rush LTD which comprised of a braking system overhaul, new bushes, new ball-joints and multiple engine service ( including gearbox service and new belts + tensioners). A large log of invoices which outline more regular servicing and other maintenance are present from this point onward.

Purchased by the current owner in late 2016, the car has since been subject to further work and servicing totalling over £13k since 2017. Works in this period include a carburettor rebuild, new manifold gaskets and a suspension overhaul, air conditioning servicing and 2 more engine services as well as many other items.

Present in the history file are copied of the original order form and invoice, annotated build log from Mulliner Park Ward, Delivery note and correspondence from Rolls-Royce, original book back in the correct wallet and 2 keys.

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