On more than one occasion, England's Rolls-Royce has been named "The best car in the World," saluting the utmost effort and meticulous attention to detail applied in manufacturing each and every one of these majestic motorcars of timeless beauty.
There exists no other automobile on this planet that could match the built-in charisma and prestige of a Rolls-Royce convertible.
True milestone classics, Corniches were hand-built in extremely limited numbers, at the rate of about four cars per week, by the old-world craftsmen at Rolls-Royce's subsidiary H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd. in Willesden, North London. In all, just 5,161 of these Drophead Coupés were manufactured during 25 years, from 1971 to 1996.
The Corniche--like the RR Camargue named after a breathtakingly beautiful region in Southern France--undeniably is the finest post-WWII convertible made.
Mind you, a Corniche is not simply a Silver Shadow with two doors. Far from it, esteemed Viscount, it is an entirely different-looking vehicle, equipped with numerous aluminum alloy body panels, countless, very costly improvements, and lovingly created, unique details. The last Corniches built retailed at $359,500.00; in the year 2006, you cannot purchase a new, topless Rolls for any amount of money, since the factory is not building any!
Hence, the magnificent 1980 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible presented here--VIN *DRL50404*--is a true dream find. Sold new on 3/30/1981 right here in the Southland, at Roy Carver's Newport Beach, Calif., Rolls-Royce dealership, this breathtaking motorcar has had only two careful owners in 26 years. It has been driven less than 3,800 miles per year, on average, for a total of just 92,450 fully documented original miles. The second owner (for the past 18 years), a well-respected medical doctor and opera buff, actually kept the car inside a specially made, clear plastic vacuum bubble at his Studio City mansion, when not in use.
The good doctor's personal set of--most appropriate--California vanity license plates will remain with the car.
Ideally, one would hope to find a vintage Corniche possessing an iron-clad provenance and a fully documented service history. As luck will have it, the fantastic example for auction here features both!
The original, dark brown vinyl pouch contains all books and manuals, including:
- Owner's handbook
- Supplement to the owner's handbook
- Special supplemental manual for U.S. cars
- Stamped service book
- Original warranty documents
- Tire information pamphlet
- MICHELIN tire warranty and manual
- Corniche consumer information booklet
- Rolls-Royce Sales and service handbook 1980/81 edition
The vast majority of these receipts originate from Charles Agapiou Ltd., one of Los Angeles' most esteemed independent Rolls Royce service establishments. They add up to exactly $45,608.17. To claim that this car has always been maintained with an open checkbook at hand would almost be an understatement. Including routine maintenance, annual expenditure averaged a quite affordable $2,600.00. Most recently, a rebuilt transmission was fitted, a water pump and fan clutch, rear brake pads and calipers, struts and shocks, the #2 brake pump, and new front suspension bushings.
Original, ventilated steel wheels with dog dish hubcaps and stainless embellishers have been fitted with a set of new, correct DUNLOP whitewall radial tires of the dimension 235/70R15, less than 2,500 miles ago.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Residing inside a toothbrush-clean engine bay, the 6-¾ liter (411c.i.) Vee Eight, with matching engine number *50404*, can rightfully be called the World's finest Big Block. Assembled by hand to the most exacting tolerances in the industry, it is destined to live forever. The motor whispers almost inaudibly from idle all the way to an rpm range you will most likely never explore and has sufficient power and more than enough torque to propel the 5100-pound car to its top speed of 125mph, should the need ever arise. Since this car has always been maintained to the highest standards, there are no fluid leaks, no smoking, nor oil drinking habits to report.
Cosmetically, the Corniche is every bit as good as it is mechanically. This pampered Southern California Rolls is free of any rust or accident damage. Mason's Black finish is superbly lustrous. Not the tiniest ding or dent mars the mirror-like paint; there's scarcely the smallest imperfection to be found. Pit-free brightwork shines like new.
Black EVERFLEX convertible top is power-operated and in excellent condition, with a clear back window.
Once the top is lowered, it disappears beneath a wonderfully fitting, original, black leather boot cover, to be installed within seconds.
Shall we have a look inside this gorgeous horseless carriage now, Guv'nor?
The first Rolls designed specifically for the self-driving Lady or Gentleman, there is ample space behind the original volant. Corniche's dashboard is unlike any other, a delight of unmatched finesse. Interior displays an abundance of visual panache, with acres of black CONNOLLY leather, an esoteric, high-Dollar concert sound system, and dazzling, intricately inlaid walnut burled wood, all of which has just been expertly refinished by RR specialist Helmut Haupt, to the tune of $2,000.00.
Fully loaded with amenities such as dual-zone air conditioning, eight-way power seats, power door locks and power windows, all lights and instruments work as they should, including all the electronic monitors.
Like a bespoke suit, a vintage Rolls-Royce leather interior is virtually irreplaceable. A dozen yards of the finest black CONNOLLY leather adorn the interior surfaces, accented by resplendent, chromium-plated fittings.
A true 5-passenger convertible, the Corniche's rear seat features plenty of space for three full-size adults when called to duty. Never before was giving rides to your friends from the County Club so much fun!
Before heading out onto the open road, let's take a quick peek into the car's luggage compartment.
Corniche's trunk--appropriately clad in fine WILTON wool carpeting--hides various components identifying a true audiophile. Yes, the MD loved the opera, and didn't hesitate to spend any amount deemed necessary on an audio system allowing him to enjoy Pavarotti to the fullest, while gliding in the Rolls to downtown's Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Most of the components (amplifiers, crossovers, etc.) are invisible to the casual observer, but once you turn on the system, you'll have goose bumps all over.
Most importantly, the large and small tool sets are complete and unused, and even the original stowage bag for the tonneau cover is still present!
Rolls-Royce provided a particularly well thought-out, high quality tool kit. It even includes such items as a tire pressure gauge, feeler gauges, and spare light bulbs.
Finally on an extended test drive, leading us to beautiful Ojai backcountry roads, we quickly learn that driving this Corniche, especially with the top down, is a majestic experience, incomparably dignified, one that touches all senses and greatly contributes to your and your passengers' wellbeing.
Words don't do this culmination of superlatives justice. A Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible, sexy triple black, Southern California's blue skies . . . how could you possibly eclipse this adventure?
The car glides along like a swan atop a glass lake. It is as silent as Canterbury cathedral's narthex at dawn, and smoother than a silk kerchief. You can't help but adore the investment-cast Emily gracing the hand-built, nickel-plated radiator grille, inhale the intoxicating aroma of real CONNOLLY hides, marvel at the scintillating aura of finely-polished wood, and feel soft WILTON carpeting below the soles of your feet. Everything within reach was hand-crafted from the best there is, regardless of cost. Building the most sensuous car in the World was Rolls-Royce's secret.
A Corniche convertible like this one qualifies as one of the few true blue-chip investments on wheels. You'll never find another Southern California Rolls quite like it, absolutely pedigreed, totally pampered, fully documented, ready to be enjoyed. There are no stories, no excuses.
At this point in your life, don't you agree that you've finally the Best?
We sold this fine Rolls Royce to a customer in the Netherlands.