Rolls-royce Cor­niche

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

Classic Cars (UK) - - Welcome - Words RUSS SMITH Pho­tog­ra­phy LAURENS PAR­SONS

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

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