Rolls and Royce. Two individuals with the names Charles Rolls and Henry Royce joined together in 1904 and created an automobile business. Soon, their names became inextricably bound in the annals of luxury automobile makers. No doubt that, upon seeing their names in the heading of this story, you’ve immediately conjured up some images.
Perhaps those images include visions of Daddy Warbucks’ car, old photos of Hollywood stars arriving at premieres or award shows, or magazine articles lauding the winners at international concours events. You may even have envisioned a customized Rolls-Royce being used for such disparate tasks as ferrying Sir Lawrence of Arabia around the desert sands and carrying shahs going out to hunt tigers in India. Yes, Rolls-Royce is a storied name and has continued to burnish its well-deserved reputation during the 116-plus years since the company was founded.
For the past year or so, the company has focused on making just three models: the Phantom (the headliner of the brand and the largest of their cars); the Ghost (a four-door vehicle that, though a full-size sedan, is still quite a bit smaller than the Phantom); and the Cullinan (Rolls-Royce’s large SUV, which has been a hit for the company). However, not long before press time, Rolls-Royce announced the Spectre, its first production car to be fully electric — touted as the “world’s first ultra-luxury electric super coupe” — with customer deliveries set to commence later this year. Today, we are focusing on the Phantom.
The flag-bearer Phantom nameplate was first introduced in the mid-1920s and is now in its eighth generation, with Phantom VIII being introduced in 2017. One thing’s for sure: the Phantom is a B-I-G car: about 227 inches long (for the standard wheelbase car; the extended wheelbase car is over 8 inches longer); approximately 80 inches wide; about 65 inches tall; and over 5,700 pounds in weight (and several hundred pounds more for the extended wheelbase edition).
The cabin is ultra-quiet and amazingly luxurious — every surface is smooth and a pleasure to touch; everything that can be seen has been polished, painted, plated, or otherwise completed to an astounding level of perfection. All of the materials are of the highest caliber and feel substantial and well thought out. The vaunted heating and air conditioning duct ends are commented on by virtually everyone, as they feel as though they were carved from pure platinum. And that may be one of the most apparent reasons that make Rolls-Royce the pinnacle of beauty and quality — an attention to detail that is so rarely seen these days.
Despite the Phantom’s considerable weight and noticeable proportions, the performance of this luxury supercar is exemplary — the 563 HP, twin- turbocharged, 6.75-liter V-12 can motivate this stately vehicle from zero to 60 MPH in just over five seconds. Its top speed is about 155 MPH. Many people today think of Rolls-Royces, and especially Phantoms, as the wheels of cruising “boulevardiers” of the first order, but these cars can go, stop, and … wait for it … handle well, especially as their suspension systems are so sophisticated. They have rear-wheel steering, which makes the car surprisingly maneuverable, even when parking, and adds to the élan when driving at higher speeds.
High-tech features include the GPS system, which analyzes the location of the car as well as the speed in order to assist with smooth gear changes. Also, the Phantom’s camera system predicts the adjustments necessary to provide the most comfortable ride, as it can adjust spring rates, the suspension dampers, and even the active anti-roll bars. The amount of technology in the Phantom is both impressive and far beyond what one would find in most other vehicles.
The base price of the new Phantom is $475,000, but “mine” was so tricked out that the sticker price ended up being $628,300. What was added? An “iced bonnet” (satin-finished hood), special pinstriping, veneered fold-down picnic tables in back, a champagne refrigerator accessible from the rear seats, 22-inch forged rims, and more. In “Iguazu blue” with black wheels, it was stunning.
I loved my time with this Phantom. Even on short trips, it was a delight to be coddled, comforted, and luxuriated in the car’s cocoon-like environment. The seats are both supportive and supremely comfortable; the heating and air conditioning system is efficient and very unobtrusive; and the sound system is terrific. Merging onto the freeway certainly is no challenge, and cruising at higher speeds all day is not the least bit tiring.
Rolls-Royce co-founder Henry Royce is often credited with creating the motto for the company: “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” Sir Henry, you would be proud of the Phantom created by the company that you helped build over a century ago.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS NA LLC