One of the rarest Rolls Royces and indeed cars to ever trundle down the roads, the last of the mighty Corniche. Although sold only as the Corniche, it is often dubbed the Corniche 2000 or the Corniche V, depending on your preference.
The last of the original Silver Shadow based Corniche’s of the 1960’s were built in 1995, and for three years Rolls Royce only sold the Silver Spirit and Spur until these were replaced by the Silver Seraph in 1998 following acquisition of the company by both Volkswagen and BMW.
Volkswagen was contracted to build Bentley and Rolls Royce vehicles between 1998 and 2003, whilst BMW supplied the engines to replace the original Rolls Royce V8 that had been handed down since the introduction of the Silver Shadow in 1965. In the end BMW were only able to supply their own V12 to the Silver Seraph, whilst the original RR V8 continues to be used even to this day, with a 6.75L version ending up in the Corniche V.
Either way, to compliment the new Silver Seraph, plans were launched to create a convertible two-door saloon version with the revived Corniche name. However, instead of taking a regular Silver Seraph, removing the rear doors and cutting off its roof, Rolls Royce instead went to long time partners Bentley for design assistance, with the result that the Corniche V is in fact built on the platform and with the bodyshell of the Bentley Azure,with Rolls Royce grille and badging, as well as Silver Seraph styling added instead. This was the first, and only Rolls Royce car to be derived from a Bentley product, instead of the usual tradition where Bentley cars were derived from Rolls Royce models.
In January 2000 that car was launched and became the company’s flagship motor, with a base price of $359,900. As mentioned, the car is powered by a 6.75L Rolls Royce V8, providing 325hp and whisking the car to a top speed of 135mph at a rate of 0-60 in 8 seconds, which is pretty good going for a 6,000lb luxury saloon!
Inside the car came outfitted with every luxury and refinement characteristic of a Rolls-Royce. The car has a Connolly Leather interior, Wilton wool carpets, chrome gauges and a wide choice of exotic wood trims. Dual automatic temperature control, a six-disc CD changer, automatic headlamps and automatic ride control are standard.
Vehicles were built to order, but the heavy base price made them not as easy to purchase as the technically similar Bentley Azure, which meant that eventually only 374 of these cars were built between 2000 and 2002 when BMW took full control of Rolls Royce.
The Corniche V has the distinction of being the last ever Rolls Royce to be built at their traditional Crewe Factory, which had housed the company since 1946. On August 30th, 2002, a Corniche with chassis number SCAZK28E72CH02079 left the factory as the final Rolls Royce product of their home base, leaving in the company of a classic 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
Following the departure of Rolls Royce, the company set up shop in Goodwood near Chichester in the south of England, where the next car to be built was the 2003 Phantom. The spiritual successor of the Corniche V is essentially the Phantom Drophead Coupe, but this is a point of conjecture. Production at the Crewe factory was turned over entirely to Volkswagen and the construction of Bentley automobiles. The Bentley Azure continued in production until 2009, bringing an end to the 14 year old design that had helped spawn the last of the Corniches.
Originally the name was meant to be revived on Rolls Royce’s latest car, but in the end was dubbed the Wraith.
Today you’d be very, very hard pressed to find one of these cars. Although many forget about the Corniche V and indeed the Silver Seraph, the surviving examples can still fetch a hefty price of up to £250,000 and more.