Rolls-Royce Corniche

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Rolls-Royce Corniche
Rolls-Royce Corniche II
ManufacturerRolls-Royce Ltd (defunct 1973)
Rolls-Royce Motors
Parent companyVickers plc
PredecessorSilver Shadow Coupe
SuccessorCorniche V
Bentley Azure
Body style(s)2-door coupe
2-door convertible
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)6.75 L Rolls-Royce V8
DesignerBill Allen
ManualsService Manual
First generation
Rolls-Royce Corniche 1977
Also calledBentley Corniche
AssemblyLondon, England
Transmission(s)3-speed automatic
Wheelbase1971-73: 119¾ in (3042 mm)
1974-78: 120 in (3048 mm)
1979-1985: 120½ in (3061 mm)
RelatedSilver Shadow
Bentley T-series
Second generation
1988 Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible (North America)
Also calledBentley Continental
AssemblyLondon, England
Third generation
Also calledBentley Continental
AssemblyLondon, England
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
Wheelbase120.5 in (3061 mm)
Length207.0 in (5258 mm)
Continental R: 210.3 in (5342 mm)
WidthCorniche: 72.3 in (1836 mm)
Continental: 77.0 in (1956 mm)
Continental R: 88.5 in (2248 mm)
Height59.8 in (1519 mm)
Continental R: 57.6 in (1463 mm)
Fourth generation
Also calledBentley Continental
AssemblyCrewe, England
Transmission(s)4-speed automatic
Wheelbase120.5 in (3061 mm)
LengthCorniche: 204.6 in (5197 mm)
Continental: 207.0 in (5258 mm)
Continental R: 210.3 in (5342 mm)
WidthCorniche: 77.0 in (1956 mm)
Continental: 77.1 in (1958 mm)
Continental R: 80.5 in (2045 mm)
Height59.8 in (1519 mm)
Continental R: 57.6 in (1463 mm)

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. It had an aluminium-silicon alloy block and aluminum 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 (6750 cc/411 in³). Twin SU carburettors were initially fitted with a single Solex 4-barrel carburettor introduced in 1975. Export models retained the twin SU's until 1980, when Bosch fuel injection was added.

A 3-speed automatic transmission (a Turbo Hydramatic 400 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 Citroen system, but without pneumatic springs, and hydraulic components built under licence by Rolls-Royce), at first on all four, but later in the rear wheels only. Four wheel disc brakes were specified, with ventilated discs added for 1972.

The car originally used a 119.75 in (3042 mm) wheelbase. This was extended to 120 in (3048 mm) in 1974 and 120.5 in (3061 mm) in 1979.

Corniche II

The car was mildly reworked in 1986 as the Corniche II. Alloy and rubber bumpers replaced earlier chrome ones. An aluminium radiator was substituted and an oil cooler was added. Anti-lock brakes were standard but air bags were not available in the Corniche II. Other changes included new style rims, a new reverse warning lens type and pattern around the rear license plate, as well as newly designed seats and a redesigned dash.

The Bentley version was updated in 1984 with a new name, the Continental. The Bentley model had lost its closed coupe option in 1982, and all Corniche II's of the era were convertibles.

Corniche III

The Corniche III was introduced at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show as a continuation of the Corniche line. The only significant change from the Corniche II was that air bags were standard. The bumpers were now painted body colour rather than black, and a more advanced suspension system was fitted. There were also minor interior changes, including a revised dashboard and console.

Corniche IV

The car was reworked in 1993 as the Corniche IV. By this time production had moved to Crewe after the closure of Mulliner Park Ward. A glass rear window was now used, a major upgrade from the old plastic one. The rest of the top mechanism was improved as well, and now required no manual latching. CFC-free air conditioning was specified, as were driver and passenger airbags.

The last 25 Corniche models to be built (in 1995) were unique turbocharged versions and were called the Corniche S.

Corniche V (2000)

The fifth car 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.


  • Rolls-Royce Corniche: 4347
    • Saloon (1971-1982): 1108
    • Convertible (1971-1987): 3239
  • Bentley Corniche: 140
    • Saloon (1971-1982): 63
    • Convertible (1971-1984): 77
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche II: 1226
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche III: 452
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche IV: 244
    • Corniche IV (1993-1996): 219
    • Corniche S (1995-1996): 25
  • Bentley Continental (1984-1994): 421
    • Bentley Continental Turbo (1992-1995): 8
  • Bentley Continental (2008-2009): 1 (For Mixmaster B)

See also