In line with Rolls-Royce’s position at the top of the luxury car market, the Camargue was the most expensive production car at its launch in 1975. To justify this, the level of luxury and opulence that the car offered was unmatched, with split-level climate control and peerless ride quality elevating it above its contemporaries.
Despite being penned by Pininfarina, many found the styling a somewhat underwhelming, but it’s one that has grown old very gracefully. The ultra-luxurious two-door coupe remained in production for a total of 11 years, and managed to find 531 buyers during that time.
Today its lines exude a certain brutish charm that while not to everyone’s tastes, certainly has its own appeal. Values are on the rise and well-maintained cars are now in demand.
Which one to buy?
Rolls-Royce officially only sold a two-door coupe, however various coachbuilders did convert some cars into convertibles. Slightly less tasteful conversions can be found in the Middle East, however the majority of cars available in the UK are of the higher quality standard variety.
The basic platform was ahared with the Corniche and Silver Shadow, meaning that updates carried out on these cars also found their way into the Camargue. The very early cars used SU carburettors, but cars built from 1977-on had the more efficient Solex setup. Power was up on the Corniche, but the additional weight meant that performance was not largely unchanged.
Cars built from 1979 had uprated independent suspension sourced from the Silver Spirit, and these models do handle noticably better. Owners could also specify a number of customisations that were added to cars at the end of the production line.
When new, the pricing of the Camargue was a major sticking point. It cost nearly twice as much as the Silver Shadow and 50 per cent more than the mechanically similar convertible Corniche, making it a hard sell. Today the Camargue’s values are more in line with its lesser stable mates.
Maintaining such a complex and specialised vehicle means that neglected ones can be a nightmare, if there isn’t a comprehensive and verifiable service history then walk away. The limited production numbers add to its exclusivity, and it’s worth going for one of the later models with the uprated power steering and suspension. As long as you follow the rule of buying the best one you can afford, it can be a satisfyingly eccentric way to get to the pub for Sunday lunch.
Performance and specs
Engine 6750cc 16valve, OHV V8
Torque 330lb ft
Top speed 118 mph
0-60mph 10.9 seconds
Fuel consumption 12mpg
Gearbox Three-speed automatic
Dimensions and weight
Curb weight 2329kg
• Rust is common, and the cost to repair corroded panels can easily escalate. Body panel resprays are a specialist job and will also become very expensive. Check over all external panels, paying particular attention to wheel arch surrounds, door sills and footwells.
• The low stressed 6.75 V8 has been a staple Rolls-Royce engine for decades and even in the ‘70s had already developed a reputation for reliability. In non-turbocharged form as found on the Camargue, it tends not to have head gasket issues however water seepage from around gasket bolts can indicate a warped head.
• Oil leakage around valve covers tends to be normal and while a spot or two of oil underneath the car is acceptable any larger leaks need to be investigated.
• Regular coolant changes are essential to prevent cylinder liners from corroding, the best way to check this without opening up the engine is to see evidence of regular servicing.
• Suspension systems are a Citroen based hydraulic system and while quite reliable require regular maintenance and fluid changes every four to five years. Check the fluid levels in the engine bay, as a low level can cause havoc with the system.
• A major overhaul should usually be carried out every 100,000 miles, but with few cars reaching that sort of mileage they should be checked over thoroughly every ten years.
• The rear spring mountings have been known to corrode, and the sub frame mounting bushes wear out regularly so a thorough inspection in this area is a must.
• Front brakes are straight forward to maintain however the rear drum units are an expensive specialist only job so check them over thoroughly.
• Cars with power steering can develop leaks and pipes become brittle over time. Check for any leaks or erratic power assistance when turning.
• There are a lot of electronic systems on a Camargue and corrosion as well as bad wiring can cause a lot of headaches. The best thing is to check that all buttons and switches work properly. Electric windows can become very slow, and the only solution is to refurbish the winding mechanism.
• Electric seat motors can be refurbished by specialists and central door mechanisms can be troublesome on the earlier cars.
1975: Rolls-Royce Camargue is launched with 220bhp 6.75-litre V8 and three-speed automatic drivetrain. Split level air conditioning, a world first in production cars
1976: US production started with minor changes to meet regulations
1977: Powered rack and pinion steering introduced. Solex carburettors replace SU units adding some extra power.
1979: Independent rear suspension from Silver Spirit replaces old setup
1986: 12 run-out limited edition cars were built for the US market featuring white exterior paint and very high interior specifications. Final Camargue rolls off the production line with a total of 531 cars produced
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.rrec.org.uk - Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts site
• www.flyingspares.com - Parts supplier for Rolls-Royce Models
• www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com - Rolls-Royce Motor Cars site
Summary and prices
If you’re feeling brave or just want to show off your car maintenance prowess, then £15,000 is your starting point for a Camargue. For everyone else, restored examples with comprehensive service histories range between £35,000 for an early model up to £45,000 for one of the more desirable later cars. Time warp condition cars have changed hands for anything up to £80,000, and with so few left values are definitely on the way up.
Words: John Tallodi