Auto blogTue, 13 May 2014 17:29:00 EST
For the next act in its Bespoke Collection, Rolls-Royce has found one of its own to celebrate with the Phantom Drophead Coupé Waterspeed Collection, noting the achievements of British land and water record-holder Sir Malcolm Campbell. Like a few other racers of his era in the 1920s and 1930s, Campbell used his Bluebird Motor Company and Bluebird Garage to fund his interest in motorsports. He would break the waterspeed record in 1937 in his Bluebird K3 powered by a Rolls-Royce R engine, traveling 126.33 miles per hour on Italy's Lake Maggiore.
We've seen sketches of what Rolls-Royce intended with the Waterspeed Collection, and the real thing is just as handsome, and the new model includes a number of firsts for the marque. The Maggiore Blue exterior paint is also used for highlights on the engine, the polished wheels, two-tone steering wheel and the dashboard. The tonneau cover normally finished in teak is instead done in hand-finished brushed steel, a closer contrast to the Windchill Grey interior. The Abachi wood veneers have also been bookmatched so that their grain evokes the wake of a speeding boat.
The droptop will be shown first at the Bluebird Garage Cafe in London on the site of the original garage, after which it will get its first wider showing at the Concorso D'Eleganza at Villa D'Este later this month. The press release below has a lot more detail on the finer detailing of the Drophead Coupe Waterspeed, and the images above are worth at least 8,000 words.
For seven years, Rolls-Royce got by on the Phantom line alone, expanding on the original saloon with a long-wheelbase version, a coupe and the convertible. But now that the Ghost is part of the family, Goodwood seems to be following a similar expansion.
What started with the Ghost sedan has since been joined by the extended-wheelbase model and the Wraith fastback coupe. And now we're receiving spy shots of a Wraith-based convertible undergoing testing.
Potentially to be called the Wraith Drophead Coupe like its larger Phantom-based counterpart, the cabrio is likely to borrow much from the Wraith fastback - including its 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 producing 624 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque - but with a folding cloth roof mechanism to let the wind and engine note in, although the prototype pictured here is wearing a makeshift hardtop.
Rolls-Royce is exclusive. Rolls-Royce's Bespoke Collection, though, takes that exclusivity to the highest levels, representing the very finest work that the craftsmen at the company's Goodwood factory are capable of producing. With the Pinnacle Travel Phantom, set to be shown at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, Rolls-Royce may have finally outdone itself. Apparently, the puzzling name (as well as the reason it's being shown in Beijing) comes from China's second consecutive year as the largest outbound travel market in the world.
The one-off custom job wears a gorgeous two-tone paint scheme, with a section of Silver Sand and a lot of Madeira Red paint. The intricate coachline includes a few small details that just add to the exterior's specialness.
The cabin, though, is where the work has really been done. It has throw pillows, for crying out loud. Ignoring the silvery poofs on the back seats, the cabin is dominated by Morello Red and Seashell leather, the former of which is on the seats, doors and interior partition. The woodwork, is some of the most beautiful we've seen from Rolls-Royce, which is saying something.
While we're still a ways off from the automotive awards season proper, where things like North American Car and Truck of the Year, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Car and Driver's Ten Best are named, that doesn't mean there aren't trophies being handed out to deserving automakers. Ward's 10 Best Interiors being one of them.
As the name might imply, the magazine focuses on the very best interior treatments in the US market. Whereas some awards purposely exclude extreme, high-dollar offerings, Ward's considers them - the only requirement is that a vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior."
Ward's offered up the list of winners in simple, alphabetical order, and it only seems fair to do the same:
It appears that BMW is ready to take another step upmarket with a new concept flagship luxury sedan at the Beijing Motor Show at the end of April. The showcar is said to preview the company's rumored 9 Series, a sedan that would be positioned against top trims of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, like the rumored S600 Maybach.
According to Automotive News Europe, the concept sedan wears styling language adapted from the curvaceous BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe (pictured above) shown at the 2013 Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance in May. It rides on BMW's new, modular platform - codenamed G11 - for the company's largest cars, an architecture also expected to be shared with the next 7 Series and future Rolls-Royce vehicles. It's rumored to bring the weight of the 7 closer to the 5 Series, which would be several hundred pounds lighter when comparing the base models of both current vehicles. We spotted the next-gen 7 Series testing over a year ago, and both it and the 9 Series are expected to go on sale in 2016.
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no official information about the concept. "We don't have any official news yet on anything in Beijing," Julian Arguelles, BMW USA spokesperson, tells Autoblog. However, it's heartening to think that BMW might be adapting the gorgeous shape of the Gran Lusso for production.
Every spring, the finest automobiles ever to grace tarmac gather on the shores of Lake Como for the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. It's a chance for the most beautiful classics to compete for awards and for automakers and design studios to show off their concept cars under the soft light of the Italian sun. But while most of the vehicles old and new that show up for the concours are ones we've seen before, BMW takes things a step further.
As patron of the concorso d'eleganza for the past ten years, BMW regularly cooks up something new for the glamorous extravaganza. Last year it teamed up with Pininfarina for the Gran Lusso Coupé and revealed it alongside the Concept 90 motorcycle. The year before that came the BMW Zagato Coupe, preceded by the 328 Hommage and the M1 Hommage (pictured above) before it.
The theme for this year's event is the Roaring Twenties. BMW may not have been known back then on the same level as Bugatti or Duesenberg, but Rolls-Royce sure was.
Rolls-Royce is not the first marque you'd think of when it comes to environmentally friendly transportation. Its cars are big - often the size of SUVs - and pack ginormous twelve-cylinder engines displacing over six and a half liters. Those upright Parthenon grilles can't be very aerodynamic, either. But the way the wind is blowing these days, Goodwood will have to get with the program sooner or later.
It developed an electric version of the Phantom a couple of years ago called the 102EX and showed it to customers around the world. But people weren't interested, so Rolls-Royce killed the program. Not to be deterred, however, Rolls is now said to be working on a plug-in hybrid that would countermand some of the shortcomings - like range and recharging times - that killed the 102EX.
The technology would apparently be borrowed from parent company BMW which is developing it for the X5 eDrive and allow Rolls-Royce to reduce its carbon footprint and offer a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation to those who don't want to skimp on the luxury and prestige.
Downsizing is a relative term - especially when it comes to a Rolls-Royce. But that's just what the British luxury automaker did with the release of the Ghost in 2010. Sure, it's over seventeen and a half feet long (over eighteen in Extended Wheelbase form), but that's still shorter than the 19 feet the standard Phantom stretches, and that much shorter than the twenty-foot-long Phantom EWB.
The Ghost has now been on the market for four years, high time Rolls gave it a little refresh - and that's just what it's done here in Geneva with the release of the Ghost Series II. It's essentially the same vehicle as the outgoing model, but the Ghost Series II (like the Phantom Series II released in 2012) benefits from a host of minor updates. The styling has been subtly revised, and the sumptuous cabin space has been updated with such features as a new infotainment display, rotary controller and trim.
Although Goodwood hasn't released official output figures, the 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 (only the second twelve-cylinder engine in Rolls-Royce history) carries over from the existing model. We might hope for some of the power upgrades released for the Wraith or the Ghost V-Specification, but what we know for sure is that it's mated to a Satellite Aided Transmission that uses GPS data to 'read' the road ahead and choose the right gear for the turns coming up. It's a nifty technology pioneered by parent company BMW, and along with the other updates rolled out for the Series II, promises to make the hyper-luxurious driving experience that much more so.
It's not every day that an automaker admits in its own words that a new generation of one of its models is a "subtle redesign," but that's exactly how Rolls-Royce is describing the changes made to its Ghost Series II. Most of the bodywork has seen very light resculpting, including what the brand is calling a tapered "wake channel" that starts just behind the beloved Spirit of Ecstacy's wings evoking "the sight of a jet's vapour trail" and "hinting at the car's dynamism."
So much does Rolls-Royce want to emphasize the Ghost Series II's so-called dynamism that it uses the descriptor a total of eight times in the press release that you're welcome to read below. Looking past that all-too-current buzzword, what we see here is clearly a Rolls-Royce, clearly an ultra-luxury sedan and clearly desirable.
Rest assured, prospective buyers will see all the latest technology inside the new Ghost's interior, including a 10.25-inch high-definition screen and a Spirit of Ecstacy Rotary Controller so as not to "leave unsightly fingerprints at driver and passenger eye level." Of course, plenty of customization is available for the most discerning of buyers, and two new wood veneer options are available - Paldao and Walnut Burr Crossband.
Rolls-Royce is not a brand that replaces its vehicles with any great frequency. It expands its lineup, sure: what started with just the Phantom saloon has since grown to include extended wheelbase models, coupes and convertibles, not to mention the addition of the Ghost, followed by the Ghost EWB and the Wraith fastback. What Rolls does to keep its models fresh, however, is spruce them up with a Series II.
The Phantom family underwent just such a treatment a couple of years ago, and now Goodwood appears to be preparing to do the same with the Ghost. At least, that is, going by this teaser image it released with only the line, "After five years as the cornerstone of Rolls-Royce's sustainable growth success worldwide, this mid-life update is a showcase for the most recent technological advances from Rolls-Royce enrobed in a considered exterior design revision."
The arrival of the Ghost Series II at the Geneva Motor Show this year would put it significantly ahead of schedule for when Rolls updated the Phantom. That model arrived in 2003 and was followed by the Series II in 2012, giving the original a nine-year run virtually unchanged. The Ghost, however, only reached production in 2010, so introducing a Series II now would shorten that lifecycle to just four years.