If the Corniche word makes you think of convertible Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows, think again, for this was a very different kind of Corniche. A Corniche commissioned before the war which, had it survived, had it not been for that pesky bomb, could have sent Bentley off in an entirely different direction after it. But it was not to be. First the Corniche itself disappeared into fragments courtesy of the Luftwaffe, then its story disappeared first into Bentley history, then obscurity. All that was believed to have survived were a handful of pre-war photographs, some showing the car rather inelegantly and somewhat crumpled on its side.
But what a car it was! Indeed there was only one Bentley that had ever looked anything like it, the famed ‘Embiricos’ Bentley of 1938, whose sleek lines actually gained most famed after the war when the car not only entered Le Mans three times in succession between 1949-51, but finished them all, the first of which in sixth place.
But the Embiricos had nothing to do with Bentley and even before the outbreak of hostilities was based on outdated running gear. The car Bentley was going to introduce was called the Mk V, which came with a new chassis, a new engine, independent front suspension and synchromesh on all forward gears save first. Mechanically it was a transformation, but visually it looked quite exceptionally similar to the ‘Derby’ Bentleys produced by Rolls-Royce soon after acquiring Bentley in 1931.