Classic ReCollection – Rolls Royce Camargue

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Rolls Royce Camargue - The brochure promised luxury and style but at a priceSharing Classic Memories... in this series we ask readers… Have you ever driven, owned or even been a passenger in the…

The decision to include an alternate two door coupe within its range was taken by the Rolls Royce board back in 1969 but breaking from tradition an option to outsource styling from Crewe was taken; Italian Pininfarina took on the task in Turin. Originally, Camargue replaced the Corniche model although much had changed by the time the new car was unveiled; a 1973 launch date was scuppered after financial problems hit their aircraft engine division in 1971. Rolls Royce Motors Ltd went its own way and initially three prototype Camargue chassis joined bespoke bodies produced by Mulliner Park Ward between 1972-74. Once full production started bodies left Mulliner’s London workshops for Crewe to be fitted and painted before returning to the capital for luxury trim fitting and testing. Launched in 1975 at a staggering £29,250; which at the time was £10k more than the Corniche model and topped the range leading Phantom by £8k. The brochure did its best to extol the virtues of this new, rather pricy model as the ultimate Rolls Royce, it went on: ‘Camargue (pronounced Kamarg) named after a wild watery area in the South of France, described by the Michelin Guide as one of the most solitary, most original regions of France. It is home to a special breed of half-wild white horses which have flourished since Roman times; like filmy white wraiths never to be tamed. The new Rolls Royce engulfs that uniqueness, breathes that mystery and that is why we named it Camargue’. Its 6.75 litre all alloy V8 received a power upgrade shortly after launch with Solex replacing SU carbs in most markets except USA, Australia and Japan. The car sold world-wide through until the final chassis departed for the far east Christmas Eve 1986. Buyers that may have baulked at the original sales price of £30K were no doubt stunned a decade later when the Camargue retailed at £83K. One of the main complaints surrounding this Coupe was its proportions, the GT inspiration Pininfarina found so easy with other marques were a challenge with the Rolls Royce long bonnet and large grille. The 15 inch wheels were considered too small for the 17 x 6ft body but for those wrapped in the finest of English hide and walnut veneer, being propelled silently along in 2.3 tons of sheer indulgence, the wheel size mattered not.

Essex’s Escort with Extra – The RS2000

RS2000 - Race, rally or road the RS2000 may be approaching 50 but it’s still considered a fast FordFord announced its Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) department at the beginning of 1970, a decision forced on them by the disruption caused to the production line when the 1967 Twin Cam Escort was assembled alongside standard models at Halewood. The new facility was at South Ockendon in Essex, comprising of 250 employees to construct low volume specialist machines that would be sold through Rallye Sport dealerships. The first RS2000 left Essex in July 1973 but initial vehicles were all LHD, bound for the German market. It wasn’t until Earls Court in October 73 Ford announced the RS2000 for the home dealerships would be available, priced at £1500 between the more expensive RS1600 (£1700) and cheaper Mexico (£1300) model. Those who purchased the initial RHD cars got the best deal, as the price rose to £1800 and reached just under £2k when production ceased in January 1975; after 3,759 had been supplied to UK buyers. The Type 49 Escort shells where constructed at Halewood and included flared wheel arches, extra thick chassis side rails with double plate thickness for the front suspension top mounts. Painted to colour and fully trimmed, the shells were transported to the AVO and placed onto its overhead production line allowing the running gear to be installed from the underside. In went Ford’s 1993cc Pinto engine with OHC and alloy sump coupled to a close ratio gearbox transferring 100bhp through the RWD. A 0-60 of just 9 seconds and a top speed of 110mph, the RS even boasted 33mpg if driven sensibly, one doubts that happened often. All the figures made for great reading back then and still impress today but whilst your local RS dealer could supply with ease 45 years ago, finding a genuine, mint example today will require plenty of research and a healthy bank balance. Many examples may have succumbed to over enthusiastic driving, ending their days nestled in a ditch or losing an argument with badly placed road furniture but the RS2000 is surely a car not easily forgotten.