1978 Rolls-Royce Corniche I
Year of manufacture1978
Mileage50 434 mi / 81 166 km
"One of just 1,108 fixedhead coupés built, the Corniche was announced just two weeks after Rolls-Royce entered receivership, initially sporting the rather long-winded title ‘Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixedhead coupé’. Corniche production began in Willesdon, London during 1971 two years before the aero business was separated from the car division and Rolls Royce Motors was born. The Corniche name was also attached to the Bentley version, assembled at Mulliner Park Ward, that later became the Continental. The Corniche model was first registered by Rolls-Royce Ltd in 1939 and was applied to a high-performance derivative of the Bentley MK.V which failed to see production due to the outbreak of World War II. The name taken from three roads that run between the sea and mountains along the French Riviera featuring the name ‘Corniche’ a part of the world that drew Sir Henry Royce most winters where he carried out much of his design work at his home in Le Canadel.
This fixedhead coupé version was only produced for ten years between 1971 and 1981. Later examples benefitted from the much improved styling changes from 1976 including larger rear arches and more modern looking bumpers. Mechanically, upgrades included uprating the twin SU carburettor set up to a four-barrel Solex unit in 1975 with the model also enjoying firmer independent self-levelling suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, alloy radiator and oil cooler plus bi-level air conditioning from 1977.
This example was registered in March 1978 and built to updated specification verified by the factory build and inspection sheets dated from July 1977 which are included in the extremely comprehensive history file. The original dealer pack plus bills of sale confirm the car was delivered to Lex Mead in Maidenhead in the January where an alarm was fitted to ‘Eleanor’ its Silver Lady. Other options taken included the Lucas fog lights (which remain today with covers) and “Sundym” glass, slightly tinted promising more glare reduction than privacy. First owner Mr Bailey from Cheltenham, after which this car spent most of its life in the south including time on Jersey. Owner manuals, dealer locators and instruction booklets are all factory issue. The first service book is fully stamped and a continuation book is almost complete totalling 21 entries from either Rolls-Royce official or specialist outlets. The second book was started in 2006 at 43,880 miles and the final addition was in 2019 at 49,197 although the car also benefited from a carburettor rebuild, new water and fuel pumps, a full brake overhaul with gearbox and engine oil changes in 2020; since 2018 the previous owner invested over £21,000 caring for this Corniche. MOT history from 1987 at 33,484 includes every test up to the current certificate that runs until 25 April 2022 and confirms the current mileage shown as just 50,708.
Exterior finish of Walnut Metallic over Rose Gold is both bespoke and eye catching, the former refinished in 2020 when the original Everflex vinyl roof was removed followed by a back to bare metal repaint carried out by Rolls-Royce specialists at West Hoathly Garage. They took out both front and rear screens to ensure the perfect finish with new seals installed on refit. Arrow straight panels with precise gaps, typical of Rolls-Royce quality with original chrome offer little evidence of 44 years use. Bumper rubbers, typically nondescript black, are coloured to body with hubcaps finished to complement with matching pinstriping over base gold whilst Stateside classic Vitour Galaxy R1 tyres all round offer high speed rating, white band and plenty of tread. The cabin enjoys the atmosphere of a West End gentlemen’s club with beige leather trim (VM3234) presenting evidence of light use, offering unparalleled luxury and comfort throughout. Electric front seating operates smoothly and without delay as do the powered windows, aerial and central locking. In 2020, the walnut door-cappings were re-lacquered and polished plus a Nardi Classic steering wheel was fitted; the original also comes with the car. It is worth mentioning the high level of equipment this Corniche offers, cruise control, bi-level air conditioning, remote openings for boot and fuel and, as you would expect, everything works as it should. Entertainment comes courtesy of the option Pioneer radio cassette backed up by an original 8-track player also from Pioneer, complete with selection options. Flooring is immaculate throughout, Cumberland Stone carpets protected by lambswool over mats whilst the chrome kick plates subtly state that this is a Mulliner Park Ward assembled vehicle you are entering.
Under the bonnet the legendary 6.75 litre L410 V8 silently goes about its business, this strictly maintained power plant offers instant start up with ultra-smooth distribution of 237bhp. The engine bay area presents to show standard and obviously there are no fluid leaks and it is worth noting the original sound deadening jacket remains in place offering little signs of age. Underneath shows factory protection and remains solid throughout with a full stainless exhaust system fitted.
Motoring journalists James May and Quentin Wilson will confirm the Corniche really is the only way to travel, with fine examples offering decades of unrivalled motoring. This coupé remains capable of covering continents effortlessly, visually outstanding with comfort levels equal to any ‘first-class’ ocean liner. Appreciated by the ‘smart money’ Frank Sinatra and David Attenborough were both custodians of the Rolls Royce Corniche, drawn in, no doubt, by the engineering masterclass and its timeless elegance."