Auto blogWed, 05 Feb 2014 16:29:00 EST
A limited-edition Rolls-Royce Phantom is something of an oxymoron. The company only sold 3,630 cars last year, and even fewer of those were its flagship Phantom. However, that isn't keeping the company from regularly revealing even more limited editions of its already hyper-exclusive cars. This is precisely the case with the new Phantom Drophead Coupé Bespoke Waterspeed Collection, a forthcoming model limited to 35 examples.
The special models are inspired by a famous speedboat race on September 1, 1937, between the United States and Great Britain on Lake Maggiore on the Swiss-Italian border. The British fielded the Bluebird K3 hydroplane boat powered by a massive supercharged V12 Rolls-Royce R-Type engine with Sir Malcolm Campbell at the helm. All that displacement shot the sleek watercraft to 129.5 miles per hour, claiming a new world waterspeed record in the process.
For the special commemorative Drophead Coupé model that celebrates "a seminal act of British daring and endeavor," Rolls-Royce is finishing the convertible in Maggiore Blue paint with a brushed steel hood and tonneau cover, along with inlaid wood trim. Rolls is not announcing an official release date or price for the special cars yet, but they are going on sale before the end of the year. Scroll down for the whole story about the car's inspiration.
With the release of the 624-horsepower Wraith fastback, Rolls-Royce proved that its 6.6-liter V12 engine could produce significantly more than the 563 horsepower it offers in the Ghost. But those looking for an extra dose of power yet still want the extra two doors - and have the six-figure price of admission to burn - will be delighted by the release of the Ghost V-Specification.
Although Goodwood has yet to put out a press release, its consumer website already has all the details we could want: the engine has been upgraded to 593 horsepower (to sit in between the base Ghost and the more powerful Wraith), driving the rear set of 21-inch two-tone alloys. Buyers will be able to choose from white, grey or three shades of black (or pick an existing color from the catalog), with a hand-painted coachline incorporating the same V-Specification emblem you'll find inside, where you'll also find unique piping and top-stitching, a custom dashboard clock, special treadplates and more.
Buyers will also be able to order their V-Specification Ghost in either standard or extended wheelbases at a price that's expected to, like the engine's output, bridge the gap between the more sedate Ghost and the more powerful Wraith. We're looking forward to seeing it in person at the Geneva Motor Show in a few months, but for now you can scope out the images in the gallery below and play with the configurator tool on the Rolls-Royce website.
Wonder why Rolls-Royce makes so many special editions for the Chinese market? Probably because China is fast becoming its largest market, with the dealerships in Beijing and Shanghai regularly proving able to move more high-end metal than any other Rolls dealer in the world. Little wonder then that, less than two months after releasing the Golden Sunbird edition, Rolls-Royce Bespoke is back again with another special Ghost just for China.
This time it's called the Canton Glory edition. It was introduced recently at Auto Guangzhou, and pays tribute to the Canton Tower in the same city. Two examples were made with a two-tone color scheme contrasting burgundy with either a blueish silver or white. Other features include Guangzhou's Five Rams emblem in the coachline, veneer panels, headrests and dashboard.
We don't doubt Rolls will find (or probably already has found) a pair of Chinese industrialists to gladly take these special editions home. But for those looking for their own unique touches, the British automaker has also brought its Bespoke Atelier to China for the first time, outlining the range of possibilities open to their moneyed customers.
The more a car costs, the less frequently it's replaced - usually. Take, for example, the Bugatti Veyron. It's one of the most expensive cars on the market, and it's been there for eight years now. Eleven years passed in between the launch of the Ferrari Enzo and that of its successor LaFerrari. Now comes word that the Rolls-Royce Phantom could stick around essentially unchanged until the year 2020.
The report comes from LeftLaneNews, which cites Rolls-Royce communications chief Richard Carter in stating that the Phantom isn't going anywhere fast - despite its massive 6.75-liter V12 engine. The Phantom is the car that essentially relaunched the brand under BMW ownership way back in 2003. It has since spawned long-wheelbase, coupe and convertible models, and underwent a few minor upgrades in 2009. It may yet get another series of enhancements before it's replaced entirely, but don't expect anything drastic within the next half-dozen years or so.
For what it's worth, Rolls-Royce has other things to focus on, and we don't just mean an endless parade of special editions and one-offs for emerging luxury markets in Asia. After launching the Ghost, the company followed up with the Wraith coupe and is said to have a convertible version in the works. An SUV is reportedly under consideration, as is a sixteen-cylinder roadster. But that's not even why the Goodwood-based automaker is stretching out the Phantom's lifecycle like it did its wheelbase: the average Phantom buyer pays a good half million for their new ride, and they wouldn't be too happy to see it replaced quite so soon.
The Middle East is a vital market for Rolls-Royce, particularly in the Gulf emirates. So the British automaker wouldn't let the region's premier auto show go by unnoticed, and to that end has rolled into the Dubai Motor Show with an array of special editions.
Chief among them is the Celestial edition Phantom, a customized limousine that initially debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show but has returned to Dubai with the addition of 446 diamonds hand-set into the door panels, center console and cabin privacy partition. Taking the spirit of the Phantom's trademark starlight headliner even further, the Celestial edition reproduces overhead the constellations exactly as they were on the evening of January 1, 2003, when Rolls-Royce delivered the first Phantom to its owner, as verified by the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester, England.
The Bespoke division also fitted the Celestial Phantom with inky blue leather, special glassware and a custom picnic set. The wheel hubs are also engraved and the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament uplit, demonstrating just a few of the possibilities awaiting those with the means not only to buy a new Rolls-Royce, but also commission special features from the Bespoke department.
Until a few years ago, the Rolls-Royce product portfolio revolved around one model line, and that was the Phantom. But with the launch of the Ghost in 2010, the Goodwood-based automaker is expanding further. As with the Phantom line, a long-wheelbase Ghost ensued, followed by a coupe in the form of the Wraith. And now, as might have been expected, Rolls-Royce has reportedly confirmed development of a new convertible based on the same platform.
The new cabrio will be based closely on the Wraith, only with a convertible roof. Expect the same 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 that powers the Wraith to carry over with the same 624-horsepower output - the highest of any production Rolls-Royce - but with a bit more weight to push, the convertible ought to be a bit more sluggish off the line than the Wraith's 4.4-second 0-60 time.
We can also expect a higher sticker price, but closer to the Wraith's $320,000 MSRP than the Phantom Drophead Coupe's $470k. Whether Rolls opts to call it the Wraith DHC or use another nameplate entirely remains to be seen, but Autocar reports that the new Rolls cabrio won't arrive until 2015, so we've got a little while to go.
Of all the automakers out there, perhaps none scream "race track" as quietly as Rolls-Royce. But the British luxury automaker has its home near the Goodwood Motor Circuit, and has honored that proximity with its latest special edition.
Called the Chicane, it's based on the Phantom Coupe and is upgraded with a series of tastefully motorsport-inspired details. It's painted in gunmetal grey with a matte black hood and windshield frame, with matching gunmetal wheels - a modern Rolls-Royce first - and a red interior decked out with carbon-fiber trim and a checkered flag motif that's repeated on the exterior coachline.
The special one-off was commissioned by the dealership in Dubai and was created by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke division. Feel free to read more in the press release below.
This is the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe Ghawwass Bespoke Edition, the latest car to join the long and distinguished line of Rolls-Royce limited editions that have arrived over the years. With that in mind, we'll allow you one guess as to what market this limited edition is destined for.
If you said the Middle East, which is almost always the answer when talking about ultra-limited, special editions of the world's finest luxury and sports cars, then give yourself a pat on the back. As for that name, "Ghawwass" is the Arabic word for diver, and attaching it to the Phantom Coupe is meant to celebrate "the traditional method of collecting pearls from the Bahrain pearl banks," according to Rolls-Royce's Facebook page, where these pictures were posted.
Considering its nautical namesake, the color scheme of the Phantom Ghawwass makes a lot of sense, with a Turchese Blue exterior and a tan and Turchese interior that brings to mind bright blue water and sand. The veneers are pearl - although we can't see them in this photoset - befitting the car's inspiration, while a Dhow, a traditional Arabic sailboat, can be found in the coachline and stitched into the headrests.
There's any number of applications in which you might expect to find carbon fiber on an automobile, but a Rolls-Royce is not one of them. That could change in the near future, however, as the super-luxe auto marque is reportedly looking into using the lightweight material on a range of special models.
The idea, according to Edmunds, would be to rebody certain models in carbon fiber as a sort of in-house coachbuilding operation for discerning customers looking for something a little different from what the neighbors in the next mansion or ivory tower over have in their gold-paved driveway. While the carbon-fiber bodywork might help shave off some of the weight from a range of cars that tip the scales at 5,500 pounds or more, the principal notion here is exclusivity.
The business case for these bespoke automobiles apparently stems out of two developments. For one, the vast majority - over 90 percent - of Rolls-Royce customers opt for some manner of customization or another. For another, parent company BMW has been working hard to reduce the cost of carbon-fiber production in particular for the new i3, and that expertise could turn these premium-priced creations a greater cash cow for Rolls-Royce than the development of a sport-utility vehicle ever could.
BMW Group has made some changes to its design team since August 1, and has shuffled top personnel to different positions at BMW Design, Mini Design and Rolls-Royce.
The BMW Design team led by Karim Habib (middle, right) gains a new head of Exterior Design in Domagoj Dukec (right), who has worked for the exterior design team since 2010 and shaped the Concept Active Tourer.
Oliver Heilmer (left), who has worked for BMW's interior design unit since 2000 and designed the 5 Series interior, replaces Marc Girard as head of Interior Design BMW Automobiles. Marc Girard goes to manage BMW's subsidiary design group, BMW DesignworksUSA.