1986 Rolls-Royce Corniche

Elegance, grace, and prestige are the words that seem synonymous with Rolls Royce. From the Silver Ghost to today’s Phantom, Rolls Royce has always stood above the rest for their engineering excellence. Their early years were marked by supplying chassis to coachbuilders the world over. Following World War II, a changing market necessitated the switch to a standard production body. In 1955, the “mass produced” Silver Cloud was launched to great fanfare, and soon became Rolls Royce’s greatest commercial success by far. The success of the Silver Cloud marked Roll’s complete separation from coachbuilders for regular production models. Following on the heels of the Silver Cloud was the Silver Shadow. The Shadow was a huge technical leap forward from the Cloud, built on a monocoque chassis with independent suspension at all four corners. Most notably, it featured a Citroen-derived high-pressure hydraulic system that controlled braking, steering and the suspension leveling. The driving experience was like no other Rolls Royce before it, with “Adequate” performance (to use a factory term) from the 6.2 (and later 6.75) liter V8 and feather light steering through the thin rimmed wheel. Dual circuit brakes were very powerful and effective and the ride exceptionally well controlled. Constructed in both Rolls Royce and Bentley forms, the Silver Shadow was offered as a standard and LWB saloon, with two door coupe and convertibles known as the Corniche. For the 1977 model year, the lineup was renamed Silver Shadow II, Wraith II and Corniche II thanks to a whole host of technical changes. While the saloons were replaced by the Spirit/Spur series, the Corniche convertible soldiered on to become a symbol of luxurious excess of the period. From 1986 through 1989, just 1,226 Cornice IIs were constructed, and at a price of $126,000 in 1986, they were the most expensive car in the world at the time and a mainstay of the Beverly Hills scene.

This elegant example of the archetypal 1980s ultra-luxury car is finished handsomely in Masons Black over beige Leather. It was originally sold new by Symbolic Motor Cars, the famous LaJolla, California dealer. Service records show the car returned to the selling dealer for servicing, through the first 30K miles. From there, records indicate a move to St. Louis, Missouri in the mid-1990s where it was serviced by the authorized works dealer at the time, Lou Fusz Motors. It remains today in excellent condition, having covered 57,900 miles from new. The Masons Black paintwork exhibits deep gloss, and the bodywork is gorgeous and straight with factory-precise panel gaps. The body is beginning to show just the slightest hints of patina in a few places from years of careful use. Chrome on the bumpers, cockpit moldings, body trim and the iconic radiator shell all presents in excellent order.

Stepping into the magnificent cabin, one finds excellent tan Connolly hides and burl walnut trim. The leather is clean and attractive, with light creasing on the seats and excellent dash and door panels. Some very slight wear is evident on the driver’s side outer bolster, showing the car was used and enjoyed while also being cherished by previous owners. Oatmeal carpets are in very good condition throughout and the burl walnut trim is similarly consistent, with only some slight cracking in the lacquer evident in areas around the instruments and center console. Switchgear is all original and an Alpine AM/FM CD player has been added for enhanced in-car entertainment. The original power operated soft top is trimmed in tan Everflex vinyl and in excellent order. It is fully lined on the inside for maximum sound and weather insulation and a matching boot can be fitted when the top is down.

Beneath the large forward-hinged bonnet rests the venerable 6.75 liter V8. It is exceptionally clean and tidy, exhibiting signs of recent and proper maintenance. It of course performs beautifully, with that classic, easy-going performance that is quintessentially Rolls-Royce. Controls for the transmission and steering manage to be both finger light, yet precise and of superior quality. Climbing aboard a Corniche is a special occasion and these magnificent cars feel hewn from a solid block. As with many ultra-luxury automobiles, some Corniches have suffered at the hands of bargain buyers. This example, however, has clearly been expertly maintained and enjoyed by its careful previous keepers. It remains a handsome, elegant, and thoroughly usable example, ready for elegant top-down motoring. Sale includes limited service history, owner’s handbooks, warranty booklet and service pamphlets.


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