With the upper classes enjoying one of the largest wealth gaps in modern history, Rolls-Royce had a phenomenal sales year in 2021. Volume surpassed every other annum in its 117-year history, which might encourage one to assume that the business would be interested in maintaining the status quo. But that’s not to be the case, with CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös having confirmed that Rolls-Royce is fully committed to abandoning internal combustion.
The automaker has said that its first series-production electric vehicle will arrive in 2023. However, it would like to have every gasoline-driven model in its lineup replaced by EVs by 2030 and the relevant strategies are already being put into action. From here onward, Rolls-Royce won’t be introducing any new combustion-reliant models.
The Rare Rides series has featured five Rolls– Royce premium vehicles in past editions, yet none of them had more than two doors. We remedy this oversight today with a four-door Rolls commissioned and owned by the king of Saudi Arabia.
It’s not what you’d call subtle.
Sweeping lines and a beautiful coupe silhouette, penned by one of the finest Italian design firms and built with care and attention to detail. Yes, the Rolls-Royce Camargue had one of those features. Let’s check out what happened in the Seventies when Rolls stepped outside their typical conservative mold.
A Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith is already a limited production vehicle. German tuner Novitec, and its Spofec division, are modifying three of these cars for worldwide distribution. The question of the day is whether the Spofec Overdose Wraiths are overkill, or not?
I didn’t choose the Rolls-Royce lifestyle, the Rolls-Royce lifestyle chose me.
A while back, I was just minding my own business when the brand’s PR team emailed me and asked if I’d come to a small, COVID-safe meeting at my local RR dealer to talk about the all-new Ghost. I figured it would be the standard thing we used to do pre-pandemic – show up for a bit, check out a new model, talk specs, and get some pics. Maybe I’d get a post out of it. If not, I’d learn useful info on background.
Color me surprised, then, when my local fleet soon emailed me, asking if I’d like a brief loan to sample the Ghost.
Yes, please, I said. Now, where’s that damn Grey Poupon?
We’ve featured exactly two Rolls-Royce creations previously at Rare Rides. The first was the completely bespoke mega-buck Sweptail in 2017, and more recently the Silver Spectre, a shooting brake based upon the Wraith coupe.
Today’s Rare Ride falls somewhere between those two on the cost spectrum. It’s a one-off creation from famed design house Pininfarina.
Those of you familiar with vintage motorcars will recall that there was once a period in history where hood ornaments weren’t the classy exception but the rule. Automakers have been affixing their corporate iconography to the top of vehicles since before there were seat belts, tapping members of the animal kingdom, indigenous leaders who opposed the British (back when such things were acceptable), winged letters of the alphabet, rocket ships, and just about everything else one could imagine wanting to stick atop an automobile. But most of those have been modified to suit the times and/or relocated onto the grille in an effort to avoid impaling pedestrians (Ed. note: And perhaps theft. I think my grandparents had the hood ornament stolen off their mid-’90s era Buick once. — TH).
While a few companies attempted to get around government safety regulations by implementing flexibly mounted hood ornaments designed to avoid stabbing the person you’ve already done the disservice of hitting with your car, just about all of them have given up the ghost by 2020. The only notable exception is Rolls-Royce, which has spent a fortune designing a spring-loaded device that snaps its famous Spirit of Ecstasy (aka the Flying Lady) down inside the engine bay whenever a moderate amount of force is applied.
The company has since decided to update its ornament to allow drivers to retract it on demand. It has also started offering a £3,500 option that makes Spirit of Ecstasy an illuminated crystal bauble that has suddenly run afoul of the European Union’s new light pollution regulations. Rolls-Royce will need to remove it from its brochures and customers will be forced to neuter their vehicles if they want to be compliant with the law.
There’s a running joke among automotive journalists that suggests the ideal car is a brown wagon with a manual transmission.
It’s a joke grounded in reality – many journos would actually love a brown wagon, preferably with a manual. The only reason most automotive scribes aren’t buying the few wagons on the market – in brown or any color, regardless of gearbox – is because very few of us can afford any of the offerings on the market.
Scratch that. It’s not an all-new car. You see, the second-generation Rolls-Royce Ghost carries over the original model’s Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and rear-seat umbrellas.
The non-umbrella hardware is changed, however, and likely that’s more of interest to those of you reading. You Rolls-loving TTAC readers, you.
What’s new with the brand’s most affordable model? Read on.
The next time you don your best wool and tweed garb and grab the Holland & Holland for a day of upland game hunting on the moors, you might want to leave the largest of Rolls-Royces in your heated garage. That’s because the next-generation Ghost, the most affordable of Rolls’ cars, will send power to all four wheels.
Retailing for a mere $314,400 (2020 model), the now decade-old Ghost is a suicide-doored alternative to the gauche, look-at-me Phantom, Wraith, and Dawn, to say nothing of the Cullinan SUV. Due for a full revamp this fall, the Ghost stands to gain some of the features modern drivers can’t do without.
We’ve covered how mainstream automakers rose to the coronavirus challenge ad nauseum, but what about companies whose customers dream of rich mahogany and yachting off Cannes all night?
Well, just like a Silicon Valley tech mogul, Rolls-Royce spent these past few months reflecting, peering deep within its soul, all to learn how to become a better friend to its clients. Apparently, “post-opulence” is now a thing.
In times of crisis, companies have been known to turn on a dime to produce whatever’s most needed at a given moment. Detroit automakers churned out all manner of jeeps, armoured cars, and tank killers during World War 2, with American office supplier Remington Rand cranking out .45-calibre Colt 1911 pistols. The Singer sewing machine company made its own batch of 1911s during WWI.
The threat facing the globe right now is not militaristic in nature, but it does pose a clear danger to everyone. It also knows no borders. As the world (in many cases, belatedly) moves to counter the threat of COVID-19, UK automakers might be pressed into service making a different kind of product.