Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
On paper, in a modern context, the Royale doesn't sound that exciting. Its 2.8-litre straight-six can only muster a leisurely 140bhp. It has a three-speed auto 'box, 0-60mph takes almost twelve seconds, it tops out at 118mph. Is it even worth the bother...?
Well, you only have to look at it to see that the answer to that question is 'Yes, of course it is, you silly ass'. Cars aren't just about the numbers, they're about passion, soul, character - and there are few cars that enjoy as rich a stew of those ingredients as this. Take, for instance, that gobsmacking interior. It's an ocean of velour and fake wood; a miasma of brown tones, a vintage tracksuit of softness. It's as close to being in a Cadillac as you're likely to find yourself in Luton.
The exterior offers the oh-so of-the-period fastback profile combined with such retro treats as chrome bumper trim, faux vents on the B-pillars (so you can pretend to people in the pub that it's a mid-engined exotic), and an endearing mismatch of fonts on the tail, as was the style in the early 1980s (see also: Ford Granada 2.8i Ghia X - five badges, five fonts...).
The Royale doesn't need to be quick. It's a louche and lascivious boulevard cruiser, an everyman grand tourer - it rumbles and throbs in low-speed high street fly-bys, allowing passers-by to smell the Hai Karate and enjoy the static thrills of your polyester threads. If ever there was a car that evoked the spirit of medallions in open-chested shirts, this is it. And I mean that in an entirely positive way.