Camargue: The ‘ugliest’ Rolls-Royce in historical past could also be value a re-assessment

Camargue: The ‘ugliest’ Rolls-Royce in historical past could also be value a re-assessment

This yr, Rolls-Royce is celebrating the a hundred and tenth anniversary of the inception of its goddess-like muse, the Spirit of Ecstasy. The bronze sculpture of a girl in a robe that flows behind her like wings first formally adorned the entrance of a Rolls-Royce coach on Feb. 6, 1911. Subsequently molded in every thing from pure gold to frosted crystal, the determine has withstood greater than a century beautifying Britain’s most prestigious luxurious vehicles—even the extra obscure ones corresponding to the Rolls-Royce Camargue. Greater than something, this automobile requires her to behave as a badge to alerts the onlooker that this, too, is a Rolls-Royce, even when it isn’t fairly as good-looking as one may anticipate.

Should you’ve not heard of the Camargue, don’t really feel dangerous. I hadn’t heard of it till a good friend lately began texting me photographs of 1 he wished to purchase. (We every personal Silver Shadows, so he knew he was in pleasant firm.) Heck, I didn’t even know tips on how to pronounce Camargue.

“It’s Kar-Marg—exhausting G,” a Rolls-Royce spokesperson instructed me once I requested. And re-asked. I’m glad I did. Saying it as “ca-MARJ” (or, even worse, “car-mo-GUE”) in a circle of discerning fans can be a humiliation I’m unprepared to bear.

It’s essential to notice that my good friend felt protected texting me these photographs as a result of, properly, the Camargue isn’t thought to be the best-looking Rolls-Royce ever. “Worst. Automobile. Ever,” I lately overhead one gentleman declare to a different on contemplating its deserves.

Many have stated that, on the very least, it’s the worst-looking Rolls-Royce ever. Which is surprising, contemplating it was designed by Pininfarina’s Paolo Martin. It has lengthy, flat physique strains throughout its sides, like a Volvo wagon from the Nineteen Nineties, an over-elongated hood, and a roofline tilted on the rear at what can solely be described as a neck-twisting angle chiropractors should love. 

“It appears reasonably as if Farina has tried to bend the very good-looking strains of his Fiat 130 Coupe design round an over-large Rolls-Royce radiator—and failed,” the editors of MotorSport Journal wrote in a scathing evaluation in 1975. “From the entrance, the overhang of the bodywork past the wheels reminds us of a impolite {photograph} within the South African Grand Prix programme of the derriere of a really fats man astride a really small bike.” 

Time hasn’t lessened the bile of the assaults. One 1981 Camargue listed on the market on Convey a Trailer as a “tweaked Pininfarina” earned feedback describing it as “ghastly” and urging potential consumers to “deliver a mallet.”

“This can be a monument to wretched extra and belongs behind a RR museum within the part marked ‘Freaks and Errors,’” one commenter known as Anscahuer opined—and obtained 310 likes in settlement. “Not often vituperative, however this brings it out in me. Goes to indicate you no quantity of make-up could make a pig look good.”

Johnathan Klinger, Hagerty’s vice chairman of automobile tradition, put it reasonably extra diplomatically: “Total, we don’t obtain many inquiries on the Camargue.”

However regardless of its untraditional Rolls-Royce aesthetic, the Camargue presents a novel probability to personal a uncommon Rolls-Royce that prices lower than its better-known kin. Whereas an honest Corniche from the Eighties can value $85,000, and a top-notch Corniche from the early Nineteen Nineties prices $175,000, you could find a Camargue in every day driving situation for nearer to $30,000.

Ignored, however First Amongst Many

Famously overpriced and underpowered, the Camargue was named after an idyllic lake area close to the French Riviera. It was Rolls-Royce’s flagship sedan on the time of its launch in 1975 and, with a base worth of £30,000 (roughly $65,500, or $316,000 in right now’s cash), the costliest manufacturing automobile on the earth.

“We’re nonetheless unsure whether or not the worth of the two-door Camargue represents the largest rip-off within the motoring world or the very best and most worthwhile gross sales gimmick ever,” the MotorSport editors wrote in one other zinger. Through the Camargue’s 11-year manufacturing run, its worth rose to $171,231—equal to $410,000 right now and with out many discernible upgrades.

Bought by rich drivers, from a Chicago doctor to a Lengthy Island artist to a Kuwaiti sheikh, the Camargue shared a platform with the aforementioned Rolls-Royce Corniche and Silver Shadow. It was powered by the identical 6.75-liter V-8 engine and three-speed transmission because the Shadow, though the Camargue was extra highly effective. 

The Camargue provided many business firsts: It was the primary postwar Rolls-Royce designed by Italy’s Pininfarina and the primary of the marque designed in metric dimensions. It was the primary Rolls-Royce to function a slanted grille, inclined at an angle of seven levels. It was the primary car ever to supply dual-zone air conditioning. 

A Secret Steal

As different odd-duck automobiles from the late Nineteen Seventies and ‘80s collect steam among the many under-40 car-buying set (see Lancia Delta, Foxbody Mustang, microvans), the Camargue appears to be following that development. Insurance coverage quotes for the car on Hagerty’s web site greater than doubled from 2019 to 2020, whereas the typical worth of 1 in glorious situation is $47,440, up 2.3% prior to now 12 months.

“Their values are nearly as good—and even barely higher—than cash within the financial institution,” says Klinger. What’s extra, the typical sale worth for the very best examples at public public sale has crept up from $54,000 in 2015 to $64,350 in 2020.

The only real instance of a folding-hardtop Camargue offered for $252,000 at a RM Sotheby’s sale in 2019. (That one is an enormous outlier; the second-highest worth ever paid for a Camargue at public sale was considerably much less: $85,800 at a RM Sotheby’s public sale final yr.)

In truth, the “drophead” Camargues (aka convertibles) look higher than their coupe siblings; their lack of a high elongates these boat-like flat sides and angular hood and trunk much more in the thoughts’s eye. The more-is-more aesthetic works with that snip. 

The problem is discovering an honest one. Throughout its whole manufacturing run, solely 531 Camargues had been made, together with the one retractible-roof instance that Sotheby’s auctioned in 2019. Those now being offered as convertibles had been transformed by after-market outlets as soon as they left the manufacturing facility. 

“Maybe 5 to seven [Carmargue] coupes have been minimize by house owners and became convertibles,” John Wiley, Hagerty’s supervisor of valuation analytic, stated in an emailed be aware in regards to the automobile. That’s a positive signal they’re on the rise: 4 of them offered final fall. 

This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. Solely the headline has been modified.

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