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Rolls-Royce Corniche: Buying guide and review (1966-1995)

Rolls-Royce Corniche Rolls-Royce Corniche Rolls-Royce Corniche
No car provides more of a sense of occasion than a Rolls-Royce – except perhaps a Bentley. But even at this level there are degrees of style, and while Rolls-Royce’s huge saloons are undeniably opulent and classy, it’s the company’s convertibles and coupés (especially the former) which are king. Which is why the Rolls-Royce Corniche offers arguably the ultimate in style; it’s not gauche or kitsch, but it’s somehow understated in a rather obvious way.
 
Looking at the Corniche today, you’d almost struggle to think that it was launched at a time that the company was in serious trouble. The entire automotive sector was going through some big changes thanks to a financial crisis, and Rolls-Royce’s automobile division was seriously struggling. Thankfully the market for luxury vehicles would once again start booming, meaning Rolls-Royce was well placed to take advantage with its new Corniche.
 
Although it was based on the ‘T-Series’ Silver Shadow, the two-door Corniche was something altogether more regal – and for a Rolls-Royce, that’s saying something. Considerably more expensive when new, the Corniche came with a larger engine, revised dashboard as well as a larger grille as well as a coachbuilt two-door coupe or convertible body from Mulliner Park Ward. Today these coupe and convertible Rolls-Royces and Bentleys fetch much larger premiums over their more prosaic four-door counterparts – yet they still represent surprisingly good value.
 
The problem is that seemingly good cars can be a fast route to bankruptcy, so you really need to have your wits about you when buying – or you need to enlist the help of a specialist to make sure you don’t get your fingers burned.
 
The name Corniche was actually briefly used by Rolls-Royce before World War II, and adorned the hood of a Bentley MkV with a prototype body built by Carrosserie Vanvooren of Paris. This car featured some unusual aerodynamic properties, and had been through more than 15,000miles of endurance testing before war broke out. The car was sadly blown up while sat on the quayside waiting to be shipped home from Dieppe. 
 
Which one to buy?
 
Bentleys carry a premium as they’re much rarer; if you’re on a budget you could go for a fixed-head coupé instead. While the closed cars are much rarer, they’re much better to drive as the bodyshells are far more rigid. It’s also true that the later cars are better to drive than the earlier ones, thanks to various chassis developments. As a result, the later cars are the most valuable.
 
The Corniche’s huge bulk and cosseting suspension mean it’s wallowy, which is why it’s worth finding a car that’s been fitted with a Harvey Bailey suspension kit. This transforms the handling without upsetting the ride and best of all, fitting one of these kits is much the same as overhauling the standard set-up.
 
The right colour scheme can make a difference to Corniche values – and the hue of the paint and trim can make a big difference to how easy it is to find a buyer. Shades such as gold or brown for the exterior will never be popular, but dark blue is very sought after, and so is magnolia leather.  Early cars are also desirable because they have a classic look about them. However, the later models with fuel injection and anti-lock brakes are also in demand.
 
Performance and specs
 
Rolls-Royce Corniche IV
Engine 6750cc, V8
Power 325bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 544lb ft @ 2100rpm
Top speed 135mph
0-60mph 8.0sec
Consumption 12mpg
Gearbox Four-speed auto
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 3061mm
Length 5196mm
Width 1836mm
Height 1518mm
Weight 2430kg
 
Common problems
 
• Rust can be a major issue that’s always costly to fix properly. Start by checking the sills; if they’re rotten, significant corrosion elsewhere is likely. Also check the wheelarch lips, front and rear valances and boot floor; the boot lid seals also perish, leading to leaks.

• Even if the metalwork is OK, make sure the paint isn’t damaged as the sheer size of the car means resprays cost plenty.

• The brightwork lasts well as it’s almost all stainless steel, but it’s very expensive to renew, so make sure it’s all there and undamaged.

• The unstressed V8 lasts well but annual coolant changes are essential, using the correct Castrol/ICI fluid. Eventually the cylinder liners corrode, and shrink, squeezing the piston. You’ll know there’s a problem, because this causes a knocking sound. Even if the engine sounds fine, there’s no guarantee that it won’t start in the future, so ask for evidence that the coolant has been changed regularly.

• The automatic gearbox is cooled by pipes that run alongside the unit to the radiator. When one of the pipe bursts due to corrosion, which it eventually will, the transmission will run dry and be destroyed. The key is to replace the pipes before this happens.

• The suspension uses a Citroen-derived hydraulic self-levelling system. This is a simple system, and is generally very reliable. The LHM fluid should be renewed every four years. Check the hydraulic reservoir in the engine bay, which should contain the correct amount of bright green fluid. The other issue to look out for is tired looking piped and hoses, which could leave a mess on your driveway when they fail. 

• Along with the hydraulics, there’s also the likelihood of the rear spring pans corroding. If they are left too long, there’s a risk that the springs could fall out. Subframe mounting bushes – known as ‘brillo pads’ – need to be changed occasionally, which is a surprisingly difficult and expensive job. 

• Rear brake drums are not an easy job to rebuild, and specialist tools are needed to remove the hubs. The parts from Rolls-Royce are costly too, so expect big bills if work is required.

• The hydraulics run at very high pressures, which means they have to be replaced every 96,000 miles, regardless. There are sensors and a warning light on the dash to warn of failures, but this light is often disconnected. It’s advisable to check that all the lights illuminate when you start the ignition.

• The recurculating ball steering of earlier cars can wear but the worst can usually be adjusted out. Unwanted play can also be traced back to wear in the numerous ball joints in the steering system.

• All cars got power steering, so analyse the various pipes’ condition as they can corrode. The power steering pump belt can also fail, so check for perishing.
 
Model history

1965: The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and Bentley T-series are launched, in four-door form.
1966: The Mulliner Park Ward Silver Shadow two-door saloon arrives. 
1967: A two-door convertible debuts.
1968: A three-speed GM400 transmission is now fitted.
1969: The interior is facelifted.
1970: A 6750cc V8 replaces the 6230cc unit previously fitted.
1971: Two-door cars are now sold Corniches. The radiator is raked slightly forward, the hub caps get ventilation slots to cool the brakes while a redesigned dashboard now includes a rev counter – the first time ever on a Rolls-Royce. The engine gets extra power thanks to a redesigned exhaust and bigger valves.
1974: There’s now a wider track, longer wheelbase and flared wheelarches.
1976: A split-level air conditioning system debuts, there are improved seats and a redesigned (dished) steering wheel.
1977: The exterior design is refreshed plus rack-and-pinion steering is now fitted.
1979: There’s now independent rear suspension.
1981: The Corniche saloon dies.
1984: The Bentley Corniche becomes the Continental, with colour-coded bumpers and mirrors, a new dashboard, redesigned seats and fresh colour options.
1986: Bosch fuel injection is now fitted, and the Spirit of Ecstasy now retracts into the radiator shell.
1988: The Corniche II features redesigned seats, anti-lock brakes and redesigned seats; later there are overhauled seats, fresh instrumentation and a sportier steering wheel.
1990: The Corniche III has redesigned alloy wheels, more dashboard and seating revisions plus a new MK Motronic engine management system.
1992: The Corniche IV brings adaptive suspension, a GM four-speed automatic gearbox, front airbags, a glass rear window and a fully automatic roof.
1993: Upgrades hike power by 20 per cent.
1995: The last Corniches are made. Called the Corniche S, 25 examples are built. Total production runs to 5,146, including 1,108 saloons.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.rrec.org.uk
• www.rollsroyceownersclub.co.uk
• www.rroc.org
• www.bdcl.org
 
Summary and prices
 
Early coupe Corniches can range from anywhere between £10,000 for a rusty restoration, to £50,000 mint example. Prepare to pay around 30 per cent more if you want the convertible versions though. Later (convertible only) Corniche models are generally worth up to around £80,000, although something very special could still easily cost more than £100,000.

Words: Richard Dredge
Rolls-Royce Corniche Rolls-Royce Corniche Rolls-Royce Corniche
Last updated: 15th Aug 2016
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Rolls-Royce Corniche cars for sale

20 Search results
Rolls-Royce Corniche
14750 229500 GBP
  • 1975 Rolls-Royce Corniche I Convertible

    POA POA

    V-8 Engine Automatic Transmission Power Top Original Wheel Covers in Trunk 2017 Wheel Covers on Car

    • Year: 1975
    For sale
    Dan Kruse Classics
    00+1.210.495.8111 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Rolls Royce Corniche FHC '76

    €39,950(£35,619.42) €39,950(£35,619.42)

    Lowered price from €42.500 -> €39.950 The Corniche was Rolls-Royce's coupé and convertible version of the Silver Shadow produced between 1971 and 1996. The Corniche was named "Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixed head coupé " (alternatively - drop head coupé ) before 1971 when the Corniche name was applied. The exterior design was by John Polwhele Blatchley. (The independent coachmaker James Young had already custom-made a two-door coupé variant of the Silver Shadow, but Young's model proved less popular and was soon discontinued). The model was assembled and finished in London at Mulliner Park Ward as continuation of the 1965 Silver Shadow coupe and 1967 drophead, with the Corniche name applied in 1971. The Corniche was also sold as a Bentley, though that model became known as the Continental in 1984. The first car to wear the Corniche name was a 1939 prototype based on the Bentley Mark V which was never produced because of the onset of World War II. The Corniche was available both as a coupé and convertible, with the former discontinued in 1982. The car used the standard Rolls-Royce V8 engine. A 3-speed automatic transmission (a Turbo Hydramatic 400 sourced from Genera

    • Year: 1976
    • Mileage: 884 mi
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche

    £48,995 £48,995

    Due In Soon, Full service history A Beautiful Corniche 2 Convertible MK2 5000 Series Mineral oil car finished in Unmarked Original Willow Gold Metallic with Sumptuous soft Brown Hide Interior.Genuine 48,500 Miles with Full Service History from new. Owned and garaged by a fastidious owner since 1980.Perfect Mohair power hood. Leather Dash and Knee Roll. Over Rugs. Hood Cover. Avon Whitewalls. Private Plate Not included. This car has not been laid up for years but used sparingly since new and is totally original. Be quick. Due soon.

    • Mileage: 48600 mi
    • Engine size: 6750
    For sale
  • 1974 Rolls Royce Corniche

    £44,995 £44,995

    This outstanding Rolls Royce Corniche was supplied new by Lex Mead (Manchester) Ltd, delivered on the 31st January 1974 with factory special features to include plain Sundym glass throughout, headrests to both front seats, Black lambswool rugs to front and rear compartment, front foglamps with fitted switchbox to suit and rear Red Fog-guard lamps. The original Rolls Royce paperwork also confirms the car was built to coachbuilder SVR.2006 (Special Vehicle Requiments). The Rolls Royce is supplied with full factory specification sheets, original handbooks and manuals with a service history booklet beginning at 42,680 in 1988, a bill of sale to a Bristol based Solicitor firm in 1985, MOT certificates dating back to 2003 and a staggering £64,000 worth of receipts for work since the early 2000’s. ADA 962M has a recorded mileage of 82,000, believed genuine from the extensive history we have and the fact that there are many original features still in place inside of the vehicle. In late 2015 a major programme of work costing in the region of £20,000 was undertaken and just 500 miles have been completed since. The Rolls Royce was driven to us from London and is in excellent mechanical order

    • Year: 1974
    • Mileage: 500 mi
    For sale
  • Rolls Royce Corniche Convertible

    £57,950 £57,950

    Current Stocklist Download all Images Make Enquiry Service Centre 100 Point Checkover Finished in Aurora with Spruce Green hood, with Champagne interior piped in Spruce and Spruce carpets piped in Champagne. Only 55,000 miles. Unmarked condition. Supplied by ourselves 15 years ago. Must be seen click image to fit your screen

    • Year: 1986
    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche

    £39,995 £39,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Full Leather, Central Locking, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, UK Supplied, UK Specification, Due In Soon, CD Player, Power Hood, Electric Aerial, Electric Windows, Cruise Control, Power Steering, Premium Cloth soft top, Headlamp Jetwash A very rare Series 1A Corniche Convertible by Mulliner Park Ward. This being the final series chrome bumper Flared Arch car with Revised Mark 2 Dashboard and Carmargue Air Conditioning,46 cars in this series built. Finished in Unmarked Acrylic White with Perfect Dark Blue Hide Interior. 75,300 Miles owned by the same family for over 40 years. Maintained By Rolls Royce specialists throughout. Perfect Burr Walnut and New Wilton carpets and fully serviced. Radio/CD. Mohair Power Hood. Lambswool Rugs. Tax Exempt. Overseas delivery and extended warranty at extra cost.

    • Mileage: 75300 mi
    • Engine size: 6750
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche

    £45,950 £45,950

    PART EXCHANGE WELCOME TOP PRICES GIVEN , Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Full Leather, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Alcantara Leather, Colour Coded Interior, Electric Seats, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Rear Armrest, Rear Headrests, Power Steering, Trip Computer, Brake Assist, Colour Coded Body, Front Fog Lamps, Electric Windows, Power Hood, Electric Aerial, CD Player, 20'' Alloys, Full main dealer service history THIS FANTASTIC EXAMPLE HAS A FULLY DOCUMENTED SERVICE HISTORY WITH ALL BILLS AND DOCUMENTATION TO PROVE THE CARS HERITAGE AND ALL MOTS FROM DAY ONE .PLEASE CALL FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ,IT HAS JUST HAD IN SEPTEMBER 2015 A FULL ROLLS ROYCE SERVICE WITH AN INVOICE AMOUNTING TOO OVER £7500 spent on it ,MORE PHOTOS TO FOLLOW ELECTRIC BLUE HOOD .THE NUMBER PLATE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE CAR.

    • Mileage: 67000 mi
    • Engine size: 6750
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche

    £39,995 £39,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Full Leather, Central Locking, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, UK Supplied, UK Specification, Due In Soon, CD Player, Power Hood, Electric Aerial, Electric Windows, Cruise Control, Power Steering, Premium Cloth soft top, Headlamp Jetwash A very rare Series 1A Corniche Convertible by Mulliner Park Ward. This being the final series chrome bumper Flared Arch car with Revised Mark 2 Dashboard and Carmargue Air Conditioning,46 cars in this series built. Finished in Unmarked Acrylic White with Perfect Dark Blue Hide Interior. 75,300 Miles owned by the same family for over 40 years. Maintained By Rolls Royce specialists throughout. Perfect Burr Walnut and New Wilton carpets and fully serviced. Radio/CD. Mohair Power Hood. Lambswool Rugs. Tax Exempt. Overseas delivery and extended warranty at extra cost.

    • Mileage: 75300 mi
    • Engine size: 6750
    For sale
  • 1995 Rolls-Royce Corniche S

    $229,500(£187,570.35) $229,500(£187,570.35)

    This 1995 Rolls-Royce Corniche S is an extremely rare and desirable car in beautiful original condition. White with tan interior. The last 25 Corniche models ever to be built, completed in the summer of 1995, were unique turbocharged versions and were called the Corniche S. This particular example is the 23rd of just 25 Corniche "S" cars ever produced. It has 75k miles and is in excellent shape overall. The opportunity to own such a collectible limited production Rolls-Royce is not to be missed. Price: $229,500.

    • Year: 1995
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche CORNICHE

    £114,999 £114,999

    CORNICHE CONVERTIBLE, ORIGINAL PLATE RR 1, STUNNING AMETHYST BLUE METALLIC WITH BLUE ROOF AND COTSWOLD CREAM LEATHER, HEATED SEATS FRONT AND REAR, ONLY 18K MILES, RR PLUS 2 HUSBAND AND WIFE OWNER. MOT FEB 2017. SERVICED 200 MILES AGO. A range of finance options are available for this motorcar. Please contact us for further details. **VIEWING STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY** Video channel WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/1MARLOWCARS Follow us WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/MARLOWCARS WWW.TWITTER.COM/MARLOWCARS WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/MARLOWCARS Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure accuracy of the above information, some inaccuracies may occur. It is important that you do not rely on this information but check with Marlow Cars limited about any items which may affect your decision to buy this vehicle. These figures relate to a typical example of this model when new. They will vary according to the age, condition, fitted equipment and mileage of the vehicle. Bluetooth phone compatibility will vary from vehicle model year, make and model - Marlow cars does not warrant or Guarantee phone compatibility- Manufacturers bluetooth phone system or aftermarket. TV Tuners are not assumed to be 'Digital', cars registered

    • Year: 2000
    • Mileage: 18200 mi
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche

    £45,950 £45,950

    PART EXCHANGE WELCOME TOP PRICES GIVEN , Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Full Leather, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Alcantara Leather, Colour Coded Interior, Electric Seats, Head Restraints, Height Adjustable Seat, Rear Armrest, Rear Headrests, Power Steering, Trip Computer, Brake Assist, Colour Coded Body, Front Fog Lamps, Electric Windows, Power Hood, Electric Aerial, CD Player, 20'' Alloys, Full main dealer service history THIS FANTASTIC EXAMPLE HAS A FULLY DOCUMENTED SERVICE HISTORY WITH ALL BILLS AND DOCUMENTATION TO PROVE THE CARS HERITAGE AND ALL MOTS FROM DAY ONE .PLEASE CALL FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ,IT HAS JUST HAD IN SEPTEMBER 2015 A FULL ROLLS ROYCE SERVICE WITH AN INVOICE AMOUNTING TOO OVER £7500 spent on it ,MORE PHOTOS TO FOLLOW ELECTRIC BLUE HOOD .THE NUMBER PLATE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE CAR.

    • Mileage: 67000 mi
    • Engine size: 6750
    For sale
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche

    £49,950 £49,950

    Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Memory Seats, Central Locking, Alarm, Remote Alarm, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Heated Seats, Height Adjustable Seat, Lumbar Adjustment, UK Supplied, UK Specification, Multi-Disc CD Player, Cruise Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Colour Coded Body, Premium Cloth soft top, Front Fog Lamps, Power Hood, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Electric Aerial, Full service history A Magnificent Corniche 2 Convertible finished in unmarked Acrylic white with stunning white leather piped dark blue.Perfect Dark Blue mohair hood. Excellent burr walnut.Pioneer Walnut Radio/Cassette. With multi CD.ABS/Injection. Full Service History. Avon Whitewalls. Extra Walnut veneered door cards.Rare ABS/Injection model with new style seating. All handbooks and tool kit.Hood cover. Hpi clear. Cars in this condition are rarely available. Just serviced.Full MOT. Dont miss it, Warranty and overseas delivery at extra cost.

    • Mileage: 84300 mi
    • Engine size: 6750
    For sale
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