Spring has been slow, cold and wet this year, which is actually the way it is most years if you live in Switzerland. Of course, at least if you’re me, you forget about it being the case over the winter, so I still manage to get as disappointed every year in April when the rain keeps on falling. Last week therefore brought a nice change for the better, also motivating the lucky owner of this magnificent Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible to bring it out of the garage where it’s no doubt been sleeping through winter, and allowing me to capture the first street find of 2023!
How do I know it’s slept in the dry over the winter? Well, even though it’s clearly been renovated, and this to an extremely high standard, there is no doubt that this was a car lucky enough to have a meticulous owner who would never leave her outside during the cold season. I’m almost sure the owner has a Range Rover to take him through the dark months, as the two of them would really form an almost ideal pair. Of course, he could have a Cullinan as well, but surely no one with enough taste to renovate a Corniche Cabriolet would buy a Cullinan?
When it was launched in 1971, the Corniche was very appropriately named after the magnificent Haute Corniche, a curvy road stretching from Nice to Monaco on the French Riviera. The automobile (surely you can’t call anything as magnificent simply a car?) became a real long-runner for Rolls Royce. When it was presented, the company had gone over to be owned by the British state, following some not very successful deals involving its flight division. And yet when you see the Corniche, you would never believe it’s been created by anything other than a company awash with cash, such as the opulence it offers its owner. It would be built for all of 24 years until 1995, something today’s car builders can only dream of.
This dark blue beauty with its (no doubt new) cognac hood and interior is a Mk III, meaning it was built sometime between 1989 and 1993. That means it has the updated interior, as can be seen notably on the center console, but still the 3-speed automatic gearbox (a fourth speed would come with the fourth series), and about 200 hp from its 6.75 litre V8. Of course this was the period when Rolls wouldn’t divulge the exact power output, rather referring to it as “sufficient”. It certainly was for the way you’re supposed to drive a Corniche, but by modern standards, 200 hp for a car that weighed close to 2500 kg really isn’t much to write home about.
However Rolls was of course right. You don’t need more power when driving a Corniche, and certainly not the convertible version. It’s a car that fits best along the road it was named after, arriving in Monaco as the sun sets over the Mediterranean in time for a an early supper at the Café de Paris before trying your luck at the Casino. It’s perhaps the ultimate symbol of British blue-bloodedness but above all, to me it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever built. Given the money this owner has invested to keep it in a shape very close to new, I hope we have a sunny and long summer to look forward to!