Auto blogThu, 19 Sep 2013 08:28:00 EST
In 2001, archeologists in the palace city of Chengdu, China, uncovered the Golden Sun Bird, an ancient artifact that dates back to the Shang Dynasty from 1000 BC. The disc depicts the sun and is made of almost solid gold, measuring five inches across and weighing 20 grams. The city adopted it as its logo, and now Rolls-Royce has commemorated the find and the heritage behind it with a unique one-off.
Based on the long-wheelbase version of the Ghost, the Golden Sunbird edition features a two-tone white and gold paint scheme, with gold coachline and gold grille topped by a gold Spirit of Ecstasy. The interior has likewise been gilded with gold embroidery atop the light brown leather and white trim to match the coachwork.
The result may be elegant but is certainly not subtle. And of course it's just the latest in a long line of special editions and one-offs Rolls-Royce has crafted, particularly for markets in the Middle and Far East.
Wafting In The Fastest And Most Powerful Vehicle RR Has Ever Made
It is said that Rolls-Royce co-founder Sir Henry Royce once proclaimed: "Take the best that exists and make it better: When it does not exist, design it." The second part of that quote is most curious, as the century-old automaker recently introduced an all-new Ghost-based coupe with no apparent peers - a two-door boasting a 624-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V12 with rear-wheel drive and sleek fastback styling.
Yet despite its specifications, it was never planned to be a sports coupe. Rather, the British automaker tells us that it was thoroughly engineered to be, "a car where the sense of arrival and joy of the journey are as important as the canvas upon which it is drawn." Whatever that means.
A Rolls-Royce Phantom may be the size of an SUV, and the Ghost isn't that much smaller. Still, according to reports, the high-end British automaker is seriously evaluating the prospect of adding a proper sport-ute or crossover to its lineup.
The news comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which spoke to Rolls-Royce chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week. Although the rumor of a potential Rolls off-roader has been floating around for several months now, this is the first we've seen of the company confirming the possibility.
The development would follow similar projects being undertaken by rival automakers. Former sister-brand Bentley is preparing to launch an SUV, Jaguar revealed its own concept crossover at the same show, Maserati is gearing up to start production of the Levante and even Aston Martin has considered the idea of a crossover.
It's a tragic coincidence that on the same weekend the BMW M4 Coupe Concept was introduced in Monterey, one of the men most integral to BMW's M and Motorsports divisions, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, was killed in England. Kalbfell, a vintage motorcycle enthusiast, was set to compete in the Lansdowne Classic Series at Brands Hatch and had an accident during a practice session. After going wide at Druids Corner and falling, he was hit by a competitor following close behind and died of his injuries after being transported to hospital.
Kalbfell, an engineer, began his career at BMW in 1977 in the communications department; a decade later he was chairman of BMW M GmbH, overseeing development of some of the cars responsible for the myth of M. In 1994 he was named chairman of BMW Motorsport, and his cap full of feathers includes getting the BMW V12 into the McLaren F1, getting the BMW V8 into two Morgan cars, along with developing BMW's Formula One engine and return to the sport. Not incidentally, he also assumed leadership of Project Rolls-Royce after BMW bought the British marque in 1998, which means he oversaw the Goodwood factory upfit and the creation of the Phantom.
He left Rolls-Royce for a brief stint at Fiat, heading Alfa Romeo and Maserati, then went into consulting for clients like Lotus and Paragon, who built the Artega GT. As Autocar notes, Kalbfell "had an abiding sense that customers needed to be attracted to cars by their aura and reputation, not just their engineering." He will be missed.
Rolls-Royce choose this year's Shanghai Motor Show as the occasion to show off its achingly cool Alpine Trial Centenary Edition Ghost, but The Quail was the site of the car's North American coming out party.
The one-off Rolls pays tribute to a heroic moment in the marque's history, when four 1913 Silver Ghosts, three factory cars and one privateer entry, successfully completed the 1,820-mile Austrian Alpine Trials. The privateer racer in question, James Radley, is the gentleman responsible for the pretty color combination you see on this new Ghost. Radley's blue bodywork over black wheels looked great in 1913 and haven't lost any luster 100 years on to our eyes.
You can revisit the details about this historically rooted Rolls-Royce in the press release below, or simply take a stroll through our fresh gallery of images from The Quail.
Rolls-Royce is marking 10 years of production at its Goodwood, England home, with the aptly named Home of Rolls-Royce Collection. The first instance of the Collection, a brilliantly appointed Phantom, has come to The Quail to make its world debut.
The goal of the Home of Rolls-Royce Collection seems to be to really showcase the kind of pristine, detailed work that the artisans back in Goodood are capable off, while creating a car that almost instantly achieves heirloom status. The Phantom seen here displays a truly impressive wood paneled cabin, where a technique called marquetry has been used to inlay some 170 sections of 11 different types of wood into a "celebration" motif.
You'll find a compass theme throughout the car as well - inside and out - which the company tells us is meant to highlight the sales of Goodwood-built Rollers on five continents across the world. Compass designs can be found on the armrests and center console, with each piece of embroidery taking more than 100,000 stitches to create. Not to be outdone in terms of time lavished, the compass motif painted on the exterior of the car takes one squirrel-hair-brush-wielding craftsman six hours to perfectly apply.
Rolls-Royce may be forced to expand its lineup beyond the über-luxury cars gobbled up by the ultra-wealthy jetset, as new competition in the form of the rumored, high-end Mercedes-Benz S-Class could take a slice of the luxury pie from the BMW-owned manufacturer.
Automotive News reports that this, along with the combination of BMW's unwillingness to move above the price-point set by the 7-Series and Bentley's expansion into the SUV realm, could force Rolls-Royce's hand. AN is arguing that, as unrealistic as it might sound, Rolls could develop a four-door crossover or shooting brake, but that any such plans are in the earliest of stages.
In the near term, the smallest Rolls-Royce, the Ghost, will get a refresh in 2014, while the sporty Wraith fastback will spawn a convertible variant by 2015. The big boy of the Rolls-Royce range, meanwhile, is due for a far more comprehensive re-do. The Phantom is expected to share a platform with the next-generation 7-Series in 2016. Advanced materials are expected to feature heavily, as Rolls-Royce seeks to trim body fat and improve fuel economy without compromising the performance or comfort expected of the brands' flagship model.
Mon, 24 Jun 2013 14:58:00 EST
Despite selling 6.6-percent more vehicles - a record by volume - and posting higher revenues in the second quarter of 2013, BMW Group's profit of 2.07 million euros ($2.75 billion) is down 8.8 percent from last year. Investments in new technology (e.g. the new i3) and personnel, in addition to a competitive market, are to blame, BMW states. But the automaker remains committed to its fiscal targets for 2013, which, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Norbert Reithofer, says will be "on a similar scale to 2012."
The BMW brand's sales performance in the first half of the year, which increased by 7.7 percent to 804,258 vehicles delivered, was good enough for it to maintain its lead in the luxury market, narrowly beating Audi, which delivered 780,510 vehicles, Automotive News reports. Mercedes-Benz delivered 694,433 vehicles to cement third place.
YouTuber and car-fan extraordinaire Shmee probably had very little trouble tracking down the Top Gear film crew recently, as the group was putting together an episode that could accurately be described as "excessive." With its flag-waving (literally) Best of British theme, the TG guys gathered a jaw-dropping array of British cars, and parked them all right in front of Buckingham Palace to make extra sure that the point was driven home.
Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were outfitted with a trio of Jaguar F-Types festooned with gigantic Union Jacks, with which to survey the landscape of British motoring glory. In the video below, you'll see that this includes any number of Mini, Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren, Land Rover, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models (just to name a few), as well as a healthy dose of weird stuff that most people would never guess at being built in the UK. The lawnmowers and military vehicles are especially cool.
XCAR has taken a look at what could very well be one of the most quintessential British cars ever built: the 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche. The question at hand is whether or not expensive luxury items like artisan foods, designer clothing and yes, high-end automobiles are worth their monetary cost. Do they bring some undefined additional value to the table over their low-buck counterparts, or are they simply an excellent way to part a fool from his dollar bills? While the video below can't comment on four-course meals or $400 jeans, our valiant host does have a word or two on the joy a Rolls-Royce can bring to your life.
That's even true of a model like the '73 Corniche. Built during one of the darker days of the company's history, the convertible was designed and manufactured by an automaker on the verge of collapse. Still, it manages to hold on to that essential spirit of luxury so crucial to the Rolls-Royce brand. Check out the video below to see what we mean.