What you’re looking at here is the Rolls Royce Camargue, very much the Rolls Royce that time forgot. What can you even say about it? It’s one of the most iconic automotive failures in history, and certainly a car that Rolls Royce fans are always very quick to wince at when I mention it at RREC conventions.
So where did this curious car come from? To truly understand this mighty machine you need to go back to 1969, where a massive change in the image and style of the world was starting to hold sway. In the world of autos, the curvature of the 1950’s and early 60’s was giving way to the angles of the 1970’s, the decade that gave us the ‘Wedge’ sportsers and boxy saloon cars.
Rolls Royce, who at this point were building three cars, the Phantom VI, the Silver Shadow, and the Silver Shadow Two-Door Saloon (later to be known as the Corniche), were looking for a new design that would drastically alter its image from that of the Shadow. Originally, the intention was to use their new brainchild to replace the Two-Door Saloon, but due to financial difficulty within the Rolls Royce company, later followed by bankruptcy after the RB211 Jet Engine project, the company chose instead to save costs and rebrand it as the Corniche instead.
For their new car, Rolls Royce chose not to have it designed in-house like previous models, but went for the first time to Pininfarina of Italy. Throughout the remainder of 1969 the company toyed with many sketches, until in 1970 a final design was chosen and given the go by the Rolls Royce management, with the intention for a launch in either late 1972 or early 1973. Within the company, the project was dubbed "Delta", but was later changed to DY20, with ‘D’ signifying Delta, ‘Y’ signifying it was based on the SY (Silver Shadow) platform, and ’20’ shortened from 120 which was the car’s wheelbase of 120 inches.
But as mentioned, following the amount of money poured into the new Rolls Royce RB211 Jet Engine Project for the Lockheed Tristar, the company was bankrupt as of the 4th February 1971. The result was that the Motor Car Division, whose future now rested in the hands of the Official Receiver, had to look closely at all aspects of the business. This led to the splitting of the Rolls Royce company, with Rolls Royce Motors Ltd. being founded and placed under the ownership of Vickers, whilst the bankrupt Rolls Royce Ltd. was nationalised.
During this turbulent period, the DY20 project was closely scrutinised and the Receiver gave the go-ahead to commence the project, but following a critical review of the engineering specification for the car, a decision was taken to delay the launch date until 1975.
With development continuing, HJ Mulliner Park Ward, who already built the bodies for the Corniche, were chosen to manufacture the bodies of the DY20 project. In the summer of 1972, the first …