Auto blogFri, 14 Nov 2014 08:43:00 EST
A century ago, the princes and maharajas of India shared a relationship with Rolls-Royce that spanned five decades and saw the nobility on the subcontinent commissioning over 840 unique vehicles from the stoic marque. It's that golden age that Rolls-Royce celebrates with the debut of this one-of-a-kind luxury cabriolet.
Based on the Phantom Drophead Coupe, this unique Maharaja edition is distinguished by such special touches as Carrara White paint embellished with a peacock motif, emerald green coachline, a deep green top (hood in UK terminology), light creme leather interior with green accents, marquetry inlays and custom seashell embroidery.
Said to be two years in the making by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke division, this one-off Phantom DHC was unveiled not in India, but in Dubai, where a fascination with the Golden Age of the Raja is evidently alive and well.
A Rolls-Royce is not what you'd typically consider to be "sporty." Luxurious. Stately. Even powerful, packed as they are with twelve-cylinder engines displacing in excess of six and a half liters. The Wraith set out to change that with a sportier package, more rakish profile and an even more potent version of the Ghost's 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 to make it the fastest and most powerful Rolls-Royce ever made. But now it seems Goodwood is working on an even more aggressive version.
Spotted undergoing testing in parent company BMW's home country of Germany, this particular Wraith might strike you as the same one we've already seen, save for a few telltale details. It may be wearing the same rolling stock as the existing model, with what look like the same tailpipes protruding ever so elegantly around back, but at the bottom of the front bumper and atop the rear trunklid you'll notice more assertive spoilers added on.
To what end, we cannot be certain, but our spotters on the ground seem to think this is a prototype for a more extreme version of the Wraith - possibly inspired by the attention garnered by the Bentley Continental GT3-R. Could we be looking at a Wraith V-Specification like we saw with the Ghost? We'll have to wait to find out for sure, but in the meantime you can scope out the virtually undisguised prototype in the gallery of high-resolution spy shots above.
There are few things quite as quintessentially British as Rolls-Royce and Paddington Bear. And now the two have come together in one glorious creation.
As part of a promotion for a new Paddington movie and to raise funds for the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), London is decorating itself with a series of 50 sculptures reinterpreting the classic British children's character dotting the Paddington Trail across the city.
One of those installations has been created by Rolls-Royce, whose take on Paddington wears a brown leather duffel coat with a purple cravat and hat, a zebrawood suitcase and a pair of MK8 driving goggles that pay homage to the company's gentleman-racer history. He stands atop a chrome base modeled after Rolls' iconic Pantheon grille.
A cursory look at the top of the automobile market would suggest that the world's carmakers are gunning it full steam ahead into a new stratosphere of ultra-luxury and high-performance utility vehicles. After all, companies like Bentley and Maserati are preparing to launch their very first crossovers, while established players like Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover keep producing ever more expensive sport-utes of their own. But that's not the case across the board.
Rolls-Royce, for example, has yet to receive the green light to start working on its proposed CUV project. Though the dimensions of its sedans may already eclipse those of some crossovers, this would be the first time that Goodwood would produce a utility of its own. But while the British automaker's financial performance may have earned it a degree of autonomy, the final call may still come down to parent company BMW, which just might be waiting to see how Bentley fares with its upcoming crossover - and how much money it brings in to the Volkswagen Group - before deciding on whether or not it should proceed.
However, Rolls-Royce may not be alone in waiting for its German parent company to approve its high-priced ute. It's been two and a half years since we first laid eyes on the Lamborghini Urus (pictured), but the Italian automaker reportedly has not yet received approval from its parent company Audi and the greater Volkswagen Group to proceed with development and production. Envisioned to share its platform with the next Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and the production version of the Bentley EXP 9 F concept, the high-riding Lamborghini was originally set to reach production as the marque's third model line in 2017. But while Audi drags its feet - potentially waiting to see how the Bentley version pans out - the Urus' launch keeps getting pushed back, if it's ever to be made at all.
Between Las Vegas and the emirates of the Persian Gulf, we're sure there are Rolls-Royces to be found in the desert all the time. And we don't doubt that, given those locations, one gets torched every so often. There'd probably even be someone in a tuxedo or evening gown running for cover when it happens, too. The thing is that we're seldom if ever there to watch it go down, much less capture it in stunning high-definition, frame-by-frame video when it does.
That's where this four-minute clip by Tyler Shields comes in. The American photographer and filmmaker staged and captured this Silver Shadow being doused in gasoline (or at least what we're supposed to believe is gasoline) and set afire in the Mojave Desert, along with actor Cru Ennis and actress Ana Mulvoy-Ten.
It's heartbreaking but mesmerizing, and you'll want to watch the video for yourself to see which side you fall on. If it's the former, take solace at least in the fact that the Silver Shadow is far from a rare beast. In fact, it remains by far the most prolific Rolls-Royce ever, with over 30,000 made between 1965 and 1980... so we doubt this one will be missed terribly.
A hot compress felt wonderful on my sore back. The methodical kneading of my shoulder blades loosened the knots that formed over several hours of driving. The Swedish-style pulses firing into my lumbar region released more tension.
I wasn't getting a much-needed massage following a recent road trip. I was getting it during the road trip.
I grew up riding in the back seat of a 1976 Chevy Nova. But once you use these lux features, it's easy to go soft.
Rolls-Royce Director of Global Communications Richard Carter tells me that his storied employer is "a company that does not chase volume." In a perfect world, mused Carter, the carmaker would sell "one less" of its ultra-luxury vehicles than the fast-expanding world market demands.
And, thanks in no small part to the unprecedented success of the Series I Rolls-Royce Ghost that launched in 2010, the Brit brand seems well positioned to strike that perfect balance between exclusivity and record profits. In 2003 (the year in which the first BMW-backed Rolls rolled off the line in West Sussex), the company managed to sell around 500 cars. This year, with the first run of already-back-ordered Ghost Series II models still weeks away from delivery, the marque will top 4,000 units for the first time in its history.
Considering that each one of those "units" - a somewhat unsatisfying term for motor car this special - will gross Rolls-Royce $300,000 if we're being very conservative, you'll quickly see that creating a very desirable product for one of the best brands in the world negates the need to chase volume. The rich and free-spending are chasing this Ghost, instead.
Limited-edition, hand-built cars are kind of a bizarre thing. On the one hand, people pay umpteen amounts of money for bespoke cars, with the manufacturer adding that iconic descriptor to all its press materials, but then the company goes and produces 20 of the exact same car and sells them as a "special edition." It seems kind of contradictory.
Rolls-Royce must not see it that way, though, as it has just unveiled one of 20 Metropolitan Collection Phantom sedans at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. As the latest member of the brand's Bespoke Collection, the Metropolitan joins the Phantom Drophead Coupe Waterspeed Collection, the Pinnacle Travel and the Ghawwass Edition.
According to Rolls-Royce, the Metropolitan Collection pays "homage to the world's great metropolises" by way of the company's well known craftsmen. The veneers, particularly on the second row picnic table, get extensive attention, with just the table using 500 individual pieces of wood.
The Rolls-Royce Wraith would not be our first choice for hooning. Sure, it's god 624 horsepower channeled to the rear wheels, but it's an automatic, it costs the better part of $300,000 and it's laden with more leather, wood and carpeting than Harrod's. Leave it to Tax the Rich to toss it around then.
For those unfamiliar, the YouTube channel sporadically features videos of some of the most powerful and expensive pieces of automotive machinery being put up to no good. They've done the Ferrari 288 GTO, F50 (two of 'em, in fact) and Enzo and even the Jaguar XJ220 - twice - but now they've turned their attention to the most powerful Rolls ever, tossing it around the grounds of an old-world mansion estate like it was a Subie.
Rolls-Royce is, by nature, an exclusive auto marque, but it has been steadily increasing its sales to the point that it could be looking at 4,000 units by the end of this year, setting a new record for the German-owned British automaker.
You don't even need to go back a decade to find Rolls-Royce sales hovering around the 1,000-unit mark. But that was when Goodwood only offered the Phantom saloon. The subsequent addition of the Phantom DHC and Phantom Coupe helped expand its portfolio, enlarged even further by the addition of the Ghost in 2010, by which time total sales were reaching 3,000 units.
The Spirit of Ecstasy marque has been hovering around the 3,500 mark ever since, but with the Wraith now in the mix and its reach extending into growing markets around the world, Autocar reports that global sales could top 4,000 units this year. (Of course that pales in comparison to one-time sister brand Bentley, which topped 10,000 deliveries last year, but Rolls-Royce typically competes at a higher price bracket.)