This car comes with more history and provenance than the Ashmolean Museum.
The file is about six inches thick. It took three of us to carry it up the stairs.
The car has had simply eye-watering amounts of money lavished upon it over the years by owners who are, variously, anonymous, famous and infamous.
It comes with more press cuttings than a gossip columnist’s scrapbook.
The vendor, who is a successful entrepreneur and a serial collector of rare, interesting and coveted automotive exotica, is well-known to us.
He has a collection of some 30 cars, many of which are Rolls-Royces and Bentleys.
He is only selling this ‘Masons Black’ 1974 Corniche Convertible with a black interior because he has recently taken ownership of another ‘Masons Black’ Corniche Convertible, which happens to have an interior in his preferred colour of red.
The new car was previously owned by Maurice Gibb.
The car we have with us today also has some illustrious names on its V5s.
From 2013 to late 2018 the car was owned by none other than motoring journalist and TV presenter Quentin Wilson, and the history file is bulging with articles, photographs and countless bills and invoices attesting to his ownership.
In 1974 the car was delivered new to Soraya Khashoggi, the then wife of notorious Saudia arms trader and billionaire, Adnan Khashoggi.
Soraya had started out in life as Sandra Daly and grown up on a Leicester council estate.
The ‘Cashoggies’, as the couple became known, were a by-word for excess, in everything from houses (17), private jets (3) and superyachts (3) to clothes, jewellery and cars.
Shortly after the delivery of the Corniche to No.11 Eaton Square, Belgravia, Soraya grew understandably weary of her husband’s incessant philandering and sued for divorce in what was at the time the biggest ever settlement claim.
Whether or not she ever actually received the $875 million she was reported to have won remains unknown (at least to us).
That she ended up living in a terraced cottage in Hungerford and then working in a florist’s shop perhaps suggests not.
What is known is that she was often seen being driven around Knightsbridge and Belgravia in this very car at the time of her divorce.
It’s also known that after her divorce she had a decent go at matching her ex-husband’s polyamorous profligacy.
She had affairs, occasionally at the same time, with (among others) Sammy Davis Jnr, Warren Beatty, Tony Curtis, Roman Polanski, James Hunt, Winston Churchill’s namesake grandson, and convicted criminal and ex-Conservative Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken, with whom she had a child.
The phrase, “You couldn’t make it up”, is overused.
In this case, however, you really couldn’t.
Enough of this tittle-tattle.
We’re here to tell you about this simply fabulous car.
It starts on the button and purrs along effortlessly to a quiet and sophisticated soundtrack of pure class. And when you want power, it’s there - but not in a vulgar or shouty way, of course.
It drives exceptionally well and feels effortlessly accomplished on straights and corners alike, with tight, focussed steering and a ride quality like a velvet hovercraft on a lake of silk.
Quality oozes from every fabric, texture and haptic. It is a living, breathing, moving showcase for the kind of traditional crafts and arcane skills you simply won’t find in a modern car.
The car has covered just 60,579 miles from new and is in exceptional condition – aesthetically, mechanically and dynamically.
In 2006 the mileage was recorded as being 56,112, so the car has clearly been leading a decidedly relaxed and sedentary life in recent years.
The vendor has recently spent something in the region of £9,000 on servicing, remedial work and fettling with Specialist Cars of Exeter.
We know from copies of the original build sheet that the car began life with a handsome exterior livery of ‘Le Mans Blue’ Paint.
We’re told that it was repainted ‘Masons Black’ not long afterwards.