Corniche Convertible


The Corniche was a development of the two-door Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow built by Mulliner Park Ward, and relaunched as the Corniche in 1971 in Saloon and Convertible form. Whilst the hard-top ceased production in 1980, the drop-top continued in production until 1995, undergoing a handful of revisions from 1986 onwards.

Being based on the Silver Shadow meant that it was fast, very civilized (thanks to the hydraulic self-levelling system from Citroen) and could be maintained at relatively little cost. And while the Corniche drives very similarly to the Silver Shadow, it has a stronger and stiffer bodyshell than that of the four-door car, to the benefit of both ride and handling. Such handling would be useful if taken along the winding coastal roads of the French Riviera which gave the car its glamorous name.

Propulsion comes from the standard Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V8, which delivers its 237bhp through a 3-speed automatic transmission.  This Corniche is fitted with a solex carburettor.

Marketed alongside the all-but-identical Bentley Corniche, the Rolls was produced in greater numbers – over 4,000 first series units compared to fewer than 200 from Bentley – but it was very well received at the time and is seeing something of a return to popularity today.

The Vehicle

Built at Rolls-Royce Motors’ Crewe factory in February 1984, this UK-specification Rolls Royce Corniche Convertible was bought by a London-based Japanese food business in late 1986 (the fourth owners) before being exported to Japan and registered there in December 1989.

Having sat largely unused since around 2010, it was repatriated to the UK by the current owner in late 2015 and is now showing around 13,250 miles. Although this can’t be warranted due to the shortage of history prior to export, the superb condition of the car suggests that the figure is accurate.

Having sold his dental practice in 2014, our car-collector vendor started importing cars from Japan through a broker and it has become something of a hobby.

This car was – in his words – “filthy” when he took delivery and he put in a good deal of effort to clean it up, particularly in the interior where the leather was rough and the wood was dried out and untidy. He carried out a few other improvements – details in the History Highlights section – but has now had his fun with it at a few shows and has realised that it doesn’t really fit with the rest of his collection.

On the Outside

Originally this Corniche was Ocean Blue but, presumably for matrimonial reasons, it was repainted white during its time in Japan. The paint finish is very good and there are few blemishes across the Mulliner Park Ward coach work, just the odd bumper scratch and scrapes on some panel edges.

The windscreen surround and rubber seal are a little weather beaten and in time would benefit from renewal but mostly the exterior trim appears to be in a reasonable condition. The dark blue vinyl covered hood looks in good condition and operates perfectly under power, stowing away under a blue tonneau cover.

From 1977 onwards, the Corniche had a few revisions, including the thicker body-coloured alloy and rubber bumpers. They’re not as pretty as the original slim chrome items and change the character of the car a little but they are a sign of the times and are in good order.

However, a nice quirky feature that does add character is the pair of headlamp wipers – nothing quirky about that surely? Well, when they’re soft brushes rather than rubber blades it is certainly something less ordinary.

The Corniche sits on its original 15-inch wheels with chromed trim rings and RR hubcaps, which are in good order and all are fitted with Maxxis MA-1 whitewall tyres dating from 2014.

On the Inside

As distinctive as the outside of a Rolls-Royce is, it is more likely the interior that owners were buying into, as that was what they had the most sensory interaction with. When you’re being wafted along, you can’t see the outside, you can’t really hear the motor, but you can see, touch and smell the soft magnolia leather upholstery with navy piping and the polished wood trimmings across the cabin.

As for taste, well if the cut-crystal glasses in the driver’s door drinks cabinet are anything to go by, you can be toasting your choice of motor car too.

The leather has a little creasing and wear particularly on the driver’s seat, but has been recoloured recently, and both front seat bases reupholstered aswell. Likewise, the wood across the dash, centre console, door tops and door control panels has also been refurbished and relacquered.

In keeping with its previously blue exterior, the general theme for the remainder of the interior is also blue. The carpets are quite bright, almost royal blue and the dash top and steering wheel are a darker shade.

The vendor reports that the centre console isn’t an original item but it has been very well made to blend in and doesn’t detract from the interior at all. A modern Kenwood entertainment unit has been installed, featuring CD player and DAB Radio with phone connectivity.

As far as we’ve been able to test, the electrics and interior equipment work as they should, with the exception of the cruise control, driver’s door mirror and alarm. The air conditioning works but is weak and is still on the outdated refrigerant, so would need converting.


The engine bay of this luxury cruiser is presented in a very good condition, with many of the structures and ancillaries appearing to have been refurbished or renewed. The cam covers on the V8 bear “Rolls-Royce” nameplates in a beautifully Art Deco typeface that you’d also see on the side of a Spitfire’s Merlin engine.

The undersides of the car are largely in good order, with just a smattering of surface rust under the sills and on some of the fixings, such as the spare wheel carrier. There’s underseal across most of the other surfaces but it appears to be an older coating which is starting to crack and flake off in places. The stone chip coating on the front valance is also cracking and flaking off, revealing the original blue body colour. Whilst in Japan, the exhaust system had catalytic converters added, which are still fitted and don’t seem to adversely affect the operation.

The boot is pretty spacious, plenty roomy enough and perfectly shaped to take multiple suitcases or a steamer trunk on your jaunt down to the Côte d’Azur. The space is lined with royal blue fabric, edged in magnolia leatherette, which appears clean and intact. There doesn’t seem to be any issues around the boot opening or under the boot lid itself. Under the lining is the jack and also access to the battery and hood mechanism.

History Highlights

The car has a current MOT certificate valid to March 2022, which it passed with just an advisory on a slight oil leak.

The history file includes a few MOT certificates and invoices relating to work done on the car since its return to the UK, which include:

– Reconditioned steering rack and PAS pump

– Fuel pump

– Drive belts

– New brake suspension spheres

– New gearbox filter and automatic transmission fluid

– Front seat bases re-upholstered

We also understand that he had the radiator re-cored and fitted a Kenlowe fan.

One of the nice things he said about working on the car was that whenever he removed anything or lifted any part of the interior, it all had a commission number written on the underside in marker pen – proof if you needed it of how these cars were hand-built and everything was custom made and fitted.

The documents folder also includes the export certificate from Japan and the relevant certificates and letters from Bentley Motors (who hold the Crewe archive), HMRC and DVLA relating to its re-registration in the UK.

What We Think

The Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible was once the conveyance of rock stars such as Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Mick Jagger and today is a firm favourite of classic motoring commentators and Rolls-Royce enthusiasts alike.

This example isn’t running as smoothly as perhaps it can – the vendor believes this is due to the very recent distributor rebuild he had done, therefore he ‘didn’t get the timing spot on’ when he refitted it- but it is in immaculate, corrosion-free condition inside and out. It also shows very low mileage which, although not warranted, is eminently plausible.

We think this Corniche will sell for between £41,000 and £61,000. It would be equally well suited to commercial use or as a fantastic, luxury grand tourer for high days and holidays.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including finance and storage companies, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in ‘average’ sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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