Rare Rides: The 1978 Rolls-Royce Camargue, Most Beautiful Seventies Car for Sure

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1978 rolls royce camargue most beautiful seventies car for sure

Sweeping lines and a beautiful coupe silhouette, penned by one of the finest Italian design firms and built with care and attention to detail. Yes, the Rolls-Royce Camargue had one of those features. Let’s check out what happened in the Seventies when Rolls stepped outside their typical conservative mold.

In the Seventies, Rolls-Royce was still a small independent manufacturer that built its low volume of cars fairly slowly. At the time, the company had two platforms to use across its range: Production models like the Silver Shadow, Silver Wraith, and Corniche were all based on the Shadow. The other platform was for the much larger Phantom, which was in its sixth generation from 1968 through 1990.

Naturally, the new Camargue shared the Shadow’s platform, and when it debuted in 1975 was the first foreign-designed Rolls-Royce after World War II. Penned at Pininfarina by Paolo Martin (of Fiat 130 fame), the Camargue was supposed to attract a zestier, even wealthier Rolls buyer than the much more conservative Corniche. Racy buyers should have noted the grille was canted rearward at seven degrees, a first for the company. I’m feeling sporty already.

Said zesty buyer would need to be well-heeled indeed, as the Camargue was the most expensive production car in the world at its introduction, and second in the Rolls range only to the non-production Phantom. The Camargue made its way to tempt the North American consumer by 1976, as its first full year of production was meant for the UK market. Stateside customers paid more than British customers – around $5,000 more – because Rolls-Royce felt the trials and costs they experienced for federalization should be passed to the consumer. With only 30 or so odd units expected to move in the US each year, its customers wouldn’t mind the upcharge.

As the Rolls-Royce flagship, the Camargue featured the company’s newest technology. Most touted was the automatic climate control which was split-level, and a market first per Rolls. A complex affair, it took engineers at Crewe eight years to develop the system. Underneath, the air-conditioned coupe used the same six and three-quarter liter V8 as its Shadow brother, as well as the three-speed GM automatic. Its 120-inch wheelbase was the same as Corniche, and it had the same exact length as Corniche as well, 203.5 inches.

The Camargue received mixed reviews at its introduction but was featured on several different worst or ugly car lists in the decades following. Slow sales due to its price got even slower as the Seventies progressed and the pound experienced significant depreciation. To make up the difference, Rolls-Royce jacked the price.

Camargue remained in production through 1986, and the Corniche soldiered on alone after its demise. In its 12 years of production, just 531 Camargues were built. Fairly early in the run was today’s Rare Ride. A right-hand-drive example originally sold in Japan, it’s finished in Heinz Ketchup Red with a light parchment interior that features very crooked ketchup piping on the door panels. Located in Ohio (somehow) it’s traveled nearly 43,000 miles and is yours for $64,900.

[Images: Rolls-Royce]

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  • Jay01 Jay01 on Jun 23, 2021

    I guess it's in the eye of the beholder... but this is the second ugliest Rolls ever - topped only by the current "Wraith" ("Wrath"). It's the fastback that looks like a hatchback - reminds me of Frazier's brother Niles, talking about his rent car - "it's a Hunchback - no, hatchback - why would you name a car after it's least attractive feature?"

  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Jun 23, 2021

    I take offense with that blatantly misleading headline. The Mark IV had the same grille, hideaway headlights, opera windows, coach lights, a far better looking profile and the 'continental' back. And the Mark IV was in many respects not only better looking it was a better automobile. The Mark IV had a bigger engine (460 cid v 380), was longer (228 inches v 203.5) had relatively the same wheelbase, had a more sumptuous interior, was quieter inside and was far more reliable. Even the Lincoln Town Car would be preferable to the 'Roller'.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?