History of the 1971-1984 Bentley Corniche, 1984-1995 Continental
The Bentley Corniche was virtually identical to the Rolls-Royce Corniche that was produced from 1971-1995. It carried both closed and open two-door body styles, and its name stemmed from the Grande Corniche, the Mediterranean touring road that links Nice and Monte Carlo.
Essentially being the coupe and convertible versions of the T1 and T2, the Bentley Royce Corniche continued the use of the T1’s unibody construction. The car was smaller and squarer than earlier models, though the Corniche was aimed at buyers who insisted on coachbuilt bodies. The Mulliner Park Ward design took four months to build – two weeks alone were spent just creating the convertible’s top. Powered by a 6,750-cc, Bosch fuel-injected OHV V-8, the Corniche was hand-built, and despite its weight of almost three tons, topped out at 120 mph, with 0-60 mph reached in fewer than ten seconds. The self-leveling suspension was based on the Citroen hydraulic system and the Corniche employed power disc brakes, like the T Series cars.
The Bentley Corniche received rack-and-pinion steering in 1977, as well as alloy and rubber bumpers in place of the earlier chrome units. An aluminum radiator was substituted, and an oil cooler and a bi-level air conditioning system were added at the same time. In 1981, the fixed-head coupe body style was discontinued, making the Corniche a convertible-only model. The car received a new name in 1984, becoming the Bentley Continental.
A reworked Bentley Continental debuted in 1989, with its most notable differences from the previous iteration being new alloy wheels, standard air bags, body-color bumpers, and a refined suspension system. The Continental received a four-speed automatic transmission (as opposed to the earlier three-speed) in 1992, as well as a glass rear window and an improved top. The 1993 Continental also had a more powerful engine, and a run of 8 turbocharged Continentals were produced from 1992 until the model’s end in 1995. In all, fewer than 600 Bentley Corniche and Continentals were manufactured.
The Corniche and Continental have always existed in the rarified world of the very wealthy and most have been maintained without regard to expense. That’s a good thing, because the brakes and suspension can be very expensive to repair. Expect to pay handsomely, and buy only the very best from reputable dealers or long-term owners. Demand full history, all maintenance records and a complete ownership trail. Once you have performed all of your due diligence, rest assured that you will be driving one of the most commanding cars of its era.