Matthew Taylor tells us that the Roll-royce Corniche has always held a special place in his heart. Time to find out if his dream passes the reality test
Some of our dream drive candidates tap into their inner Steve Mcqueen and arrive with an air of nonchalant cool. Matthew Taylor is at the other end of the scale, hiding none of his bubbling enthusiasm – I feel like Santa. ‘Is that the car?’ he says eagerly, pointing out through the window of Silver Lady Services’ Bournemouth reception area. The Corniche is managing to look almost diminutive – no mean feat for any two-tonne-plus Roller – lined up between a Silver Spirit and Bentley Azure. I confirm that it is indeed, and Matthew immediately tackles the obvious, ‘It very much of its period, colour-wise, but very nice for that – it’s so of its time. And I’ve never seen colour-coded bumpers like that before on this era of Corniche.’ We remain unsure if it was an option or later change, but agree that the deliciously Eighties Willow Gold over Nutmeg Brown with matching brown hood would have been the perfect choice in 1982 for the man spending some of the fortune he’d earned making avocado bathroom suites.
So what did our imaginary bathrooms magnate get for his money? It’s time to hand Matthew the keys and find out. It’s a remarkably small key for such an imposing car, and it takes a quick glance around for him to realise its slot is unusually positioned at the top right end of the dashboard. A twist of it and the V8 not so much bursts into life but politely clears its throat like a butler wishing to attract your attention. Then we both have to open the doors and get out again to locate the seat belt straps in their guides on top of the seat backs – you can’t get at them otherwise. That small detail dealt with, Matthew is quick with his compliments, ‘The seats are really supportive, much more than you’d expect. And there’s something thrilling about looking out onto the Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet. It all feels very noble; very cossetting.’
We point that regal nose out of Bournemouth towards some hopefully quieter lanes on the edge of the New Forest, the better to get to know the car’s virtues. The first of which already has our man grinning. ‘I love that instant nose up, tail down thing it does with the merest touch of the throttle. It puts me in mind of an expensive motor boat, and there’s another similarity in all that beautiful wood around the interior too.’
We first join the A338 for a stretch of dual-carriageway to carry us away from the suburban sprawl. ‘It pulls so effortlessly, and the three-speed auto clicks into top at just 30mph without any loss of urge. I believe it’s a General Motors ’box they used, isn’t it?’ I’m happy to confirm it is indeed a GM TH400 unit which, as well as once being a popular choice for the world’s luxury motors, was remarkably just as happy amid
Russ confirms the origins of the GM automatic gearbox