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The Rolls-Royce Corniche is a two-door, front-engine, rear wheel drive five-seater produced by Rolls-Royce Motors as a coupé and convertible from 1971 to 1995.

Rolls-Royce Corniche
Early Corniche.JPG
ManufacturerRolls-Royce Ltd (defunct 1973)
Rolls-Royce Motors
DesignerBill Allen
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupé
2-door convertible
LayoutFR layout
Engine6.75 L L410 OHV V8
PredecessorSilver Cloud coupé
SuccessorCorniche V
Bentley Azure

The Corniche was a development of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, with the two door variants of that model marketed as the "Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixed head coupé & drop head coupé" until March 1971 when the Corniche name was applied. The exterior design was by John Polwhele Blatchley.[citation needed] The model was assembled and finished in London at Mulliner Park Ward as continuation of the 1965 Silver Shadow coupe and 1966 drophead. A Bentley version was also sold, becoming known as the Continental in 1984.

The Corniche draws its name from 1939 Bentley Corniche, itself from the French and Italian term for a corniche, a coastal road, especially along the face of a cliff, most notably the Grande Corniche along the French Riviera above the principality of Monaco.


Original CornicheEdit

The first car with the Corniche nameplate was a 1939 prototype based on the Bentley Mark V featuring coachwork by the Paris firm, Carrosserie Vanvooren.[1] The single car undertook 15,000 miles (24,000 km) of endurance testing in Continental Europe before being blown up by a bomb at Dieppe while waiting at the dockside to be shipped to England.[1]; though never produced because of the onset of World War II the company registered the name.


1977 Rolls-Royce Corniche Coupé
Production1971-1987 [2]
AssemblyLondon, England
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupé
2-door convertible
RelatedSilver Shadow
Bentley T-series
Engine6.75 L L410 OHV V8
Transmission3-speed automatic
Wheelbase1971-73: 119¾ in (3042 mm)
1974-79: 120 in (3048 mm)
1979-1987 120.5 in (3,061 mm)
Length203.5 in (5,169 mm)[3]
Width72 in (1,829 mm)[3]
Height58.75 in (1,492 mm)[3]
Kerb weight4,816 lb (2,185 kg)[3]

The Corniche, available as coupé or convertible,[4] used the standard Rolls-Royce V8 engine with an aluminium-silicon alloy block and aluminium cylinder heads with cast iron wet cylinder liners. The bore was 4.1 in (104.1 mm) and the stroke was 3.9 in (99.1 mm) for a total of 6.75 L (6,750 cc/411 cuin). Twin SU carburettors were initially fitted, but were replaced with a single Solex 4A1 four-barrel carburetor introduced in 1977.[5] De-smogged export models retained the twin SUs until 1980, when Bosch fuel injection was added.

A three-speed automatic transmission (a Turbo Hydramatic 350 sourced from General Motors) was standard. A four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs was augmented with a hydraulic self-levelling system (using the same system as did Citroën, but without pneumatic springs, and with the hydraulic components built under licence by Rolls-Royce), at first on all four, but later on the rear wheels only. Four wheel disc brakes were specified, with ventilated discs added for 1972.

The car originally used a 119.75 in (3,042 mm) wheelbase. This was extended to 120 in (3,048 mm) in 1974 and 120.5 in (3,061 mm) in 1979.

The Corniche received a mild restyling in the spring of 1977. Difference included rack-and-pinion steering,[6] alloy and rubber bumpers, aluminium radiator, oil cooler and a bi-level air conditioning system was added. Later changes included a modified rear independent suspension in March 1979. In March 1981, after the Silver Spirit had gone on sale, the Coupé version of the Corniche and its Bentley sister were discontinued.[4] For 1985 there were also cosmetic and interior changes.

Corniche models received Bosch KE/K-Jetronic fuel injection in 1977.[6] This engine, called the L410I, produced approximately 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp) at just above 4,000 rpm for a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph).[7]

The Bentley version was updated in July 1984 with a new name, the Continental,[8] revised and color-coded bumpers, rear view mirrors, a new dash and improvements to the seats.[4]

Production totaled 1090 Rolls-Royce Corniche Saloons, 3239 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertibles, 69 Bentley Corniche Saloons and 77 Bentley Corniche Convertibles.[2]

The Corniche was popular with high income celebrities (see below), with the notable exception of Jeremy Clarkson who mocked James May's Corniche as "just a Ford Zephyr with a chrome nose."[9]

Corniche IIEdit

Corniche II
1989 Rolls-Royce Corniche II
Production1986-1989 [2]
AssemblyLondon, England
Body and chassis
Body style2-door convertible
RelatedBentley Continental
Engine6.75 L L410/L410I OHV V8
Wheelbase120.5 in (3,061 mm)

The Corniche II name was applied for the United States market from 1986 and for other markets from 1988.[2] Anti-lock brakes were added for 1988, but air bags would not be available until the Corniche III. Also new for 1988 were some detail changes to the interior. Later in 1988 there was also a new reverse warning lens type and pattern around the rear license plate, as well as newly designed seats and redesigned instrumentation.[10]

1,234 examples of the Corniche II were produced.[2]

Rear view of 1988 Bentley Continental (US)

Corniche IIIEdit

Corniche III
Rolls-Royce Corniche III
AssemblyLondon, England
Body and chassis
RelatedBentley Continental
Engine6.75 L L410I OHV V8
Transmission3-speed automatic
Wheelbase120.5 in (3,061 mm)
Length207.0 in (5,258 mm)
Width72.3 in (1,836 mm)
Height59.8 in (1,519 mm)

The Corniche III was introduced at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show with new alloy wheels, color-coded bumpers, a more advanced suspension system, air bags and MK-Motronic fuel injections. Minor interior changes included a revised dashboard, console and seats.[10]

The revised, airbag-equipped dashboard of the corresponding Bentley Continental (1990)
Japanese Showa Emperor's parade car (1990)

Corniche IVEdit

Corniche IV
AssemblyCrewe, England
Body and chassis
RelatedBentley Continental
Engine6.75 L L410I OHV V8
6.75 L L410IT turbo OHV V8
Transmission4-speed automatic
Wheelbase120.5 in (3,061 mm)
Length204.6 in (5,197 mm)
Width77.0 in (1,956 mm)
Height59.8 in (1,519 mm)

The car was reworked for 1992 as the Corniche IV, presented at the Detroit auto show in January.[11] By this time production had moved to Crewe, in preparation for the 1994 closure of Mulliner Park Ward. Mechanically, the IV featured the four-speed GM4L80 automatic transmission rather than the previous three-speed GM400 unit. Adaptive suspension was also introduced. Visually there is nearly no difference between the Corniche III and IV except for a glass rear window replacing the previous plastic unit. The top mechanism was improved, no longer requiring manual latching. CFC-free air conditioning was specified, as were driver and passenger airbags. In October 1992 a 21st anniversary Corniche was presented. 25 cars were built, all finished in Ming Blue with a cream hood with a silver plaque on the dash.[12]

In August 1993 an engine with 20 percent more power became standard fitment.

Corniche SEdit

The last 25 Corniche models to be built, completed in the summer of 1995, were unique turbocharged versions and were called the Corniche S. In total, 5,146 Corniche Convertibles had been built, plus 1,108 Saloons (Coupés, that is), and 140 Bentley Corniches.

The Rolls-Royce Corniche "S".

In total, 5,146 Corniche Convertibles had been built, in which the last chassis ever produced was SCAZCO3C25CX50156. The last chassis went into number 21 of 25 of the Corniche S models to be produced. Apparently 22, 23, 24, and 25 were completed ahead of 21. This is the last chassis of the 5,146 Corniche Convertibles built (in 1995) and is owned by car collector Allan Jones of Cleveland, Tennessee. The dashboard plate identifies it as #21 of 25 but the plates were not assigned in sequence with the chassis numbers.[citation needed]

Pictured is the dashboard plate of the last Corniche S ever produced, which identifies it as #21 of 25, since the plates were not assigned in sequence with the chassis numbers.

Corniche (2000)Edit

Rolls-Royce Corniche

The fifth series to bear the Corniche name made its debut in January 2000. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive vehicle offered by Rolls-Royce, with a base price of US$359,900. Its production was ended in 2001, as Bentley became a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG and continued manufacture in Crewe while Rolls-Royce became solely owned by BMW, manufacturing in a new factory built by BMW.


  • Rolls-Royce Corniche: 4,332
    • Saloon (1971–1981): 1,108
    • Convertible (1971–1988): 3,224
  • Bentley Corniche: 140
    • Saloon (1971–1981): 63
    • Convertible (1971–1984): 77
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche II (1988-1989): 1,234
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche III (1989-1992): 452
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche IV (1992-1995): 244
    • Corniche IV (1992–1995): 219
    • Corniche S (1995): 25
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche (2000-2002): 374
  • Bentley Continental (1984–1994): 421
    • Bentley Continental Turbo (1992–1995): 8

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b "New Rolls-Royce Corniche". Autocar. 4 March 1971. pp. 7–8.
  2. ^ a b c d e All 33 models, Retrieved on 10 August 2013
  3. ^ a b c d "Autotest: Rolls-Royce Corniche 6,750 c.c.". Autocar. Vol. 141 (nbr4042). 6 April 1974. pp. 36–41.
  4. ^ a b c Wood, Jonathan (2001), Rolls-Royce & Bentley: Spirit of Excellence, Sparkford, Nr Yeovil, Somerset: Haynes, p. 102, ISBN 1-85960-692-X
  5. ^ Wood, p. 106
  6. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (March 1991). Automobil Revue 1991 (in German and French). 86. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 521. ISBN 3-444-00514-8.
  7. ^ Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (5 March 1987). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German and French). 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. pp. 181–182. ISBN 3-444-00458-3.
  8. ^ Automobil Revue 1991. p. 174
  9. ^ Clarkson, Jeremy (host) (20 July 2008). "Nissan GT-R". Top Gear. Season 11. Episode 04. Event occurs at 20:18. BBC Television.
  10. ^ a b Wood, p. 103
  11. ^ Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1992 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. 1992. p. 882.
  12. ^ Wood, p. 107


  • Holmes, Mark (2007). Ultimate Convertibles: Roofless Beauty. London: Kandour. pp. 134–139. ISBN 978-1-905741-62-5.