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Lot 419: Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible

Motorcycle and Motorcars, Bonhams & Butterfields (14 November 2009)

Recalling its glamorous Grand Tourers of pre-war days such as the Phantom II Continental, Rolls-Royce's final coachbuilt models - entrusted to the company's in-house coachbuilder Mulliner, Park Ward - were limited to just two, a two-door coupe or similar convertible, the former arriving in March 1966 and the latter in September the following year. These exclusive cars were hand built in the best traditions of British coachbuilding using only materials of the finest quality, including Wilton carpeting, Connolly hide and burr walnut veneers, a necessarily lengthy process that took all of 20 weeks for the saloon and slightly longer for the more complex convertible. This painstaking attention to detail resulted in a price some 50% higher than the standard Silver Shadow's. Nevertheless, demand for these more glamorous alternatives to the much more numerous Silver Shadow was strong right from the start, a state of affairs that resulted in them being given their own model name - 'Corniche' - in March 1971. In Corniche form Rolls-Royce's proven 6,750cc aluminum-alloy V8 engine produced around 10% more power than standard, endowing the car with a top speed in excess of 120mph and sportscar-beating acceleration to match. Progressively developed, the Corniche received Rolls's advanced split-level air conditioning system along with a re-designed fascia in 1976 - the first Rolls-Royce model to do so - and in 1977 benefited from the many improvements - most notably rack-and-pinion steering - introduced on the 'Shadow II range. Despite its sky-high asking price, the model proved a major success for Rolls-Royce; periodically revised and up-dated, it remained in production well into the 1990s, the last (Convertible) examples being delivered in 1995.

This Corniche is present in brown with gold striping. The interior is done in tobacco leather and the tan top is in very good condition. A Nardi steering wheel confronts the driver in an interior awash with the finest veneers. Few cars have the class, style, and presence to remain in production, largely unchanged in outward appearances, for nearly 30 years, but the Corniche certainly stood the test.

Lot Details
Auction Motorcycle and Motorcars
Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles
TypeCar
Lot Number419
Estimate$15000-$20000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$20000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$23400
Year1973
Condition rating2
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis numberDRA13858
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors