2000 ROLLS-ROYCE CornicheView vehicle description
You can make a pretty solid argument that this is the last of the traditional Rolls Royces, built before the world famous Crewe company took delivery of lots of boxes full of bits of BMW 7 Series.
Built for just two years between 2000 and 2002, the large Corniche convertible was the last model developed in Crewe and, unlike its contemporary saloon, the Silver Seraph, which used BMW V12 power, it continued to use Rolls Royce’s aluminium block 6.75-litre V8 engine, with its origins firmly in the middle of the previous century.
The Corniche V featured front and rear styling that showed a design developed from the mainstream model Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. But the new model was dropped onto the floorpan used for Bentley Azure, making it the first and only Rolls-Royce developed from a Bentley rather than the other way around, (notwithstanding the fact that the Bentley Azure was of course developed on a Rolls Royce platform to begin with. The unique identity of the drophead coupé was accentuated by a swage line from the top of the front wing to the bottom of the rear wing.
Completely set apart from the mainstream model, the new Corniche was powered by the well-proven 6.75-litre V8 engine first seen in 1959 with the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, Rolls-Royce Phantom V, and the Bentley S2. However, power output was very un-1950s, thanks to the turbocharged fuel injected setup borrowed from the Bentley – it made 544lb-ft of torque at just 2100rpm.
Released after a five-year hiatus, the fifth Rolls Royce to carry the Corniche badge was the firm’s most expensive model and flagship car, with a base price of US$359,900. From 2003, Rolls-Royce car production was handed over to BMW, who did not prolong the production of any of the existing models, but instead reintroduced the brand with an all-new Phantom VII, costing $300,000 in 2003.
The Corniche V was the only new Rolls-Royce model launched under Volkswagen’s holding ownership; the last Rolls-Royce Corniche to date, and with just 374 units built, it remains one of the company’s most exclusive modern series production models. It was also the last Rolls Royce to be built at the Crewe factory, before it was turned over to Bentley production by VW.
With such a small production run, even by Rolls Royce standards, getting your hands of one of these fine cars is no easy task. In fact this is the first one we’ve ever sold, such is their rarity.
This one has had three owners and covered very few miles in recent years, having been cared for by an enthusiast who wanted to be reminded of the days when his father drove a Rolls Royce.
It has some minor faults that we’ll cover further on, but is basically in lovely original condition, and finished in a gorgeous blue metallic hue with a sumptuous cream leather interior.
On the Outside
Don’t be fooled into thinking that two doors means a small car. This is a big coupé, and it looks very imposing on the road, with a real presence befitting of such a luxurious chariot.
We noticed a dent or two in the boot lid that could do with rectification. We also note the roof’s hydraulic system has a leak. We are informed by the vendor that the reservoir requires regular top ups, otherwise the mechanism ceases to operate. Currently the fluid is low and the hood is not operating, being fixed in the "down" position.
We also spotted a slight scuff mark on corner of nearside rear bumper. But overall the bodywork is in superb condition and the car looks to have been garaged and cosseted, which seems entirely appropriate.
All four original wheels are in fine shape, though the chrome trims need refurbishing, with good correct specification tyres. Apart from the issues noted above we couldn’t see any problems with the Corniche’s bodywork or exterior.
On the Inside
We’re told that there’s a problem with the speedometer, which prevents it reflecting road speed, and similarly, that the electronic mileage readout is also not displaying. In addition, as its associated with the same display, the gear selector readout on the dash also needs attention, as it fails to display the selected gear.
The wood veneer is lifting slightly on the front door rails, and the electric seat mechanisms need looking at as they are rough in operation, particularly the drivers side, which can also tilt in operation.
But overall the interior is in very good order indeed. There are slight signs of wear on driver’s seat squab, but other than that the Connolly hide is in excellent condition, and every bit as luxurious as you’d expect from the last of the completely hand built Rolls-Royce.
Don’t drop any coins in the plush Wilton carpets as the pile is so deep you’ll never find them again. All in all this is a traditional Rolls Royce interior – wood, leather and Wilton. Not a bad place to while away the miles.
The 6.75-litre turbocharged Rolls Royce V8 can haul all three tons of the Corniche up to 60mph in eight seconds, and on to a top speed of 135mph, if you happen to be somewhere where you can get away with that kind of velocity. While we’re talking about speed, be advised that the brakes are pulling to the right, so there’s probably a sticking front calliper that needs attention. It may even just free off with use. It is possible also, that the tyres may have a bit of "flat spotting", not untypical of a Royce that is not used regularly, but that too may disappear with some regular use.
No issues are reported with the four speed automatic gearbox.
We found some slight surface corrosion on the radiator closing panel under the bonnet, but it’s nothing that a couple of hours with some emery paper and a rattle can of satin black paint couldn’t sort out. The engine bay is otherwise very tidy, and doesn’t look 20 years old by any stretch of the imagination.
The car’s underside is very clean for its age and we spotted nothing at all that worried us. There’s some surface corrosion on the welded joints on parts of the exhaust system, but the exhaust looks solid even so.
The Rolls Royce has a fully stamped service book and has only had two former keepers before the current owner bought the car. There is a large pile of old MoT certificates and tax discs with the car.
There is also a bill of sale for the car from 2008, which records it being bought for £70,000 with a recorded mileage then of 62,000 miles. So this car has had very little use during the current owner’s stewardship, having covered just 8000 miles in the last 14 years.
A digital Rolls Royce and Bentley workshop manual and parts list on a CD comes with the car, plus a certificate showing that an RAC Track Star tracking system was installed in 2005.
There are also some receipts covering significant outlays for parts.
2016. Lower triangle lever bush – £85.
2010. Variable valve suspension sphere rear – £892.
2011. Suspension sphere and variable valve – £928.
2011. New tyres – £756.
2021. New battery – £97.
The current owner is very reluctantly selling the car. He says:
‘The car is known to me and my family as Mary. Following the passing of my father, who much enjoyed driving his Sliver Spirit, then too quickly the passing of my aunt Mary, with the legacy that she left me I bought Mary. A nice remembrance and a tie to those no longer with our family. She is reluctantly being sold due to divorce settlement necessity.
‘The car is totally original as far as I know. It’s been to Le Mans twice. I also took it on a winding tour through France and Spain to Murcia.
‘It’s generally standard specification. But I think the original extras selected when the car was new are the gold Spirit of Extasy on the radiator, the embroidered RR on the seat head restraints, lambs wool rugs over the carpets, umbrellas in the boot lid, and a mobile phone in centre arm rest.
‘It is a delightful car, especially with the hood down on a sunny day, wherever you are travelling.’
What We Think
With just 374 of these Rolls Royce Corniches built, this genuinely is a rare opportunity indeed, especially when you bear in mind that many of that number will have gone to foreign markets.
This car isn’t without it’s faults, but none of them are a deal breaker, and we feel sure that a competent specialist could have them sorted in a few days, leaving you with a beautiful example of the very rarest of modern era Rolls Royces. This car marks the last of the Crewe line, and as such its place in motoring history assured, meaning its value will only go in one direction. We imagine interest will be very high indeed.
This car Is estimated to reach £50,000-£60,000.
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