Rolls-Royce Camargue – 1975

The Camargue stands slightly apart, and indeed aloof, from other Rolls Royce series and models. The company had been inspired by a 1968 Bentley T unmistakably designed by that genius of Italian sports car styling, Pininfarina. Submerged in financial crisis during the early 1970s, Rolls-Royce needed a dramatic statement car.

For the first time since World War II, a production model was not to be designed in-house. The new, top-of-the-range Rolls-Royce flagship was to be a really exclusive, two-door saloon styled with Pininfarina’s impeccable elegance and sporty Italian panache. Longer and wider than the Corniche (long since available), the Camargue was nevertheless beautifully proportioned. The front grille was especially broad, and for the first time it was set at an oblique angle (7 degrees) to match the snappier inclines of the front and rear screens.

The window glass itself was curved — another first for Rolls-Royce, along with the revolutionary automatic split-level air-conditioning (which cost as much as a Mini, took 8 years to develop, and had the cooling capacity of 30 refrigerators) envied throughout the automotive world. Mechanically, the Camargue was much the same as the Corniche and Silver Shadow. It was a little more powerful — but it was still a coupe, albeit the largest and most luxurious ever built.

It was a car for the newly-adventurous among film stars, royalty, and blue-blooded aristocracy, owner-drivers prepared to ditch the chauffeur and the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine that the Camargue replaced at the top of the family tree. In its day, the Rolls-Royce Camargue was the most expensive production car in the world — but its production standards were so high that during eleven years, only 530 (535 including prototypes and a single, specially commissioned, Bentley Camargue) were made. It was a car from which to rule the world.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UK

FIRST MANUFACTURED: 1975 (until 1986)

ENGINE: 6,750 cc V8

PERFORMANCE: Top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 11.3 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW: Not everyone liked the Camargue’s angular, chiselled, Italian sleekness, or even the exotic dashboard styled by Sergio Pininfarina to suggest an aircraft cockpit. But the attention to comfort included super-wide doors to allow easy access to the rear seats and a second door handle inside, placed so that a passenger didn’t have the bother of leaning forward to open it to get out again.

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