Who has never dreamed of placing ones-royal-behind on a Rolls-Royce Corniche seats ? Even without developing a boundless passion for this british brand, one can only appreciate this symbol of automobile luxury at its true value. The Silver Shadow is becoming-successfuls perfect symbol, a symbol whose production lasted nearly 30 years and who was often one of the most expensive cars in the world.
When Rolls-Royce presented its new sedan the Silver Shadow, it was a revolution for this venerated brand. For the first time it offered, to its rather conservative clientele, a technologically condensed version. Self-supporting body, hydraulic suspension, simple but elegant lines, being propelled by a totally aluminium V8 that will become famous. The famous 6 ¾ that will also be in Bentleys at the beginning of the 2000s (but which before 1970 only gauged 6230 ccs) !
Corniches did not come to us directly from Rolls Royce, but its subsidiary Mulliner Park Ward situated in London on Hythe Road. This subsidiary resulted from combining two body shops Mulliner and Park Wards, both that already belonged to the English brand. It then produced specific versions of the double R models for rich clients. From 1966 onwards Mulliner Park Ward then proposed a coupé version of the Silver Shadow called the Mulliner Park Ward 2 door fixed head coupé produced on demande. In 1967 the London bodyshop also created another cabriolet version also produced individually.
These first variations, even if they were sold in dribs and drabs, allowed Rolls Royce to confirm the market existed for this type of vehicle. Between 1966 and 1971 568 coupés with the MPW initials (plus 98 Bentley Ts versions) and 505 cabriolets (plus 41 Bentley versions) were produced before becoming Rolls-Royces with the Corniche name.
Even when entered in the catalogue the Corniche continued to be produced by MPW.
Well almost, the bodies were first fabricated in London and then sent by truck to Crewe where they received their mechanical elements and interior. The cars were then sent back to London for their finishing touches. The result is that this industrial mechanics inflated the price. For the rich clients of Rolls Royce this wasn’t a problem. To the contrary to roll in a Corniche that everyone knew to be excessively expensive allowed them to ostensibly show the extent of their fortune.
Buying a Corniche is more a sumptuous than a sporty pleasure, with 220 to 240 horsepower (at Rolls Royce they often did not speak of 6¾s real power, but instead of sufficient power) and a significant weight of 2185 kilos, one could not expect an italian sports car especially with the suspensions made for slow-driving-coziness that can cause queasiness with fast driving. However the pleasure is elsewhere, to roll hair-in-the-wind in a true monument of luxury and sensual delight, but also and even more so to impress passengers with the real leather and walnut burl living room that is the interior.
In 1977 the Silver Shadows restyling was applied to the Corniche that became the Serie 2. In the 1981 the coupé left the catalogue after 1 090 Rolls Royce versions and 69 Bentley versions. In 1984 the Bentley Corniche took on the name of Continental. In 1990 a light re-styling was applied on the III Series and then 2 years later on the IV series. In 1995 the last Corniche S with Turbo were cut from the production chains, to disappear from the catalogue.
In total 7 358 Rolls-Royces (with 1 693 coupés including the first 2-doors) and 756 Bentleys (including 182 coupés) were produced between 1966 and 1995. You could therefore say that they are relatively affordable (if you consider that they are Rolls or Bentley). You can find coupés (source LVA 2018*) from 37,000 euros while cabriolets are sold between 55,000 and 85,000 euros (for the last Corniches IV). Just think that at the time it was they were the most expensive cars in the world…