19 November 2015

Collector Classics: Rolls-Royce Camargue

Whether this angular Rolls-Royce left much of a legacy is up for debate

The Rolls-Royce Camargue took its name from the lovely region of lakes, marshes and wasteland on the French Riviera some 80 kilometres from Marseilles.

The price of a new Camargue in 1975 was a hefty $65,520. During the 11-year production run, that figure rose to a staggering $171,231 — for pretty much the exact same car!

If only it had the power of the later Bentley Turbo-R, it might have made the Camargue a little more exciting.

Still, this model boasted many firsts for this great manufacturer.

It was the first postwar production-built Rolls-Royce to be designed by the Italian design house of Pininfarina, and also the first of the marque to be designed in metric dimensions.

It was the first Rolls-Royce to feature a slanted grille, inclined at an angle of seven degrees. (Why they picked seven degrees is a mystery to me!)

And it was the first car in the world to offer a completely automated dual-zone air-conditioning system.

I will never forget one of our customers driving his Camargue into the shop one day and demanding that I unscrew the nameplate on the right door sill and urethane it to the trunk lid.

As I protested, the owner replied, “I am sick of people asking me what kind of Chevrolet Impala this is!”

I saw his point: the car was very angular, and certainly did not have the Rolls-Royce style and appeal one would expect for $171,231.

In addition, the Rolls-Royce emblem was a small one covering the trunk lock cylinder.

It also looked similar to another Pininfarina car of the same era, the Fiat 130 coupe

As the customer, his wish was our command.

On another occasion, I vividly remember calling in the pin striper to paint two very thin pink pinstripes by hand down the side of a freshly painted black Rolls-Royce Shadow.

During its entire 11-year run, only 530 Camargues were built, as well as one specially ordered Bentley Camargue.

The first time I saw the 101EX concept Rolls-Royce in 2005, it brought back memories of the Camargue.

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