This Rolls-Royce is a great unknown to many. And that was more than a decade for sale. However, in those days, the British entity’s cars were significantly rarer than they are now, as evidenced by the fact that only 531 examples were built between 1975 and 1986. Dubbed the Rolls-Royce Camargue, this luxurious coupé was designed by the famous Italian design house Pininfarina. Today, we tell you his story.
From the hand of Paolo Martin , author of illustrious sports cars such as the Ferrari Dino Berlinetta Competizione (1967) or the Ferrari Modulo Concept (1970), the Camargue is the first post-war production Rolls-Royce that was not designed in-house (not including the prolific Mulliner-Park Ward- built Corniche, and body variants of derived production models). Originally, this design was offered by the company from Turin to Mercedes-Benz , but it was rejected and it was appropriated by Rolls-Royce.
Taking its name from the coastal region in the south of France (Camargue), at its debut it became the company’s flagship and thus also the most expensive production car in the world. The price in the United Kingdom at its launch was 83,000 pounds sterling, about 650,000 euros today . But, in part, he deserved it. At its press debut in 1975, Rolls-Royce made much of the automatic bi-level climate control system , the first of its kind and which took a whopping eight years to develop.
Structurally, the Camargue shares a platform with the Corniche and Silver Shadow, giving it a generous 3,048mm wheelbase and 5,169mm length ; the average compact of the time, like the newcomer Golf , did not even reach four meters. Interestingly, it was also the first Rolls-Royce to be designed in metric dimensions and the one to introduce a slightly inclined grille –7°– instead of a completely vertical one in order to show off a more dynamic overall look.
The aesthetic of the Camargue developed by Pininfarina is unlike that of any Rolls-Royce before or since. The lines are angular and elegant, typical of an Italian luxury saloon without diminishing the characteristic features of the British company . The body of the car is long and wide, with the three well-differentiated volumes, but unmistakably that of a coupé. In addition, the spaciousness of the whole is further emphasized by the prominent front and rear headlights and, of course, by the spirit of Ecstasy.
At the time, the Camargue was criticized for its design and uncompromising price. Indeed, this large coupé was attacked for being inelegant, to the point of offering featureless surfaces that had nothing in common with other Rolls-Royce models of the time . Without the classic corporate grille, it could easily have used a different brand, perhaps that of an American model of the time. Some say the rear end looks like an enlarged, stripped-down version of the beloved FIAT/SEAT 124.
Under that long, horizontal hood was the same 6.75-liter V8 engine that equipped the Silver Shadow , although in the Camargue it is “a little more powerful.” As it used to be usual in the brand, it did not declare the performance figures in its technical sheets, appealing to the fact that it had “enough”. Estimates place it at around 220 hp and 540 Nm , which went to the rear wheels through a three -ratio General Motors Turbo-Hydramatic automatic gearbox . Of course, the weight of the set was 2,329 kilograms .
As you might imagine, the Pininfarina-bodied Rolls-Royce Camargue was sold in very limited numbers in the European, American, Canadian, Australian and Asian markets. The model is considered by many automotive enthusiasts to be the most distinctive Rolls-Royce vehicle ever produced, and like it to a greater or lesser extent, it certainly stands apart from all other contemporaries of its generation. It is simple in its lines, but imposing in its traces and its size, a true sign of opulence.
In the end, it ended up previewing the next generation of Rolls-Royce and Bentley in their Silver Shadow and Spirit / Mulsanne models , respectively. But has it aged well over time? Well, that depends on the tastes of each one, but it is undeniable that it is a car with presence. I don’t think it’ll ever win a beauty pageant, but it’s not a particularly eye-popping vehicle, either. And, currently, despite its rarity, it is still one of the most “affordable” Rolls-Royces to buy.