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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Aug 29, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff



The denizens of Beverly Hills are all too familiar with the epitome of super luxury motor cars, the Rolls-Royce Phantom. As well they should be. While a Phantom may not be standard fare in every driveway, it seems the Rolls is as iconic to the region as the palms that line the streets.

Seeing is believing, as the saying goes. The Beverly Hills Rolls-Royce dealership is officially recognized as the highest volume dealer for 2004. Of the 70 worldwide dealerships, and 31 within North America, Beverly Hills lives up to its reputation as the land of the rich and famous.

CEO Ian Robertson

On hand for the presentation of the award to a cheerful Tom O'Gara, owner of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Beverly Hills, is Ian Robertson, Chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited. The 45 cars sold here in '04 is barely a footnote to some dealerships moving a line such as Mercedes or Cadillac. This represents a significant accomplishment, however, when the North American sales for the year were 420 vehicles (with a starting price of $332,750), and world-wide the total number was just 798 units.

The gathering at the beautiful surroundings of this special dealership is intimate, and guests to the affair inside the dedicated showroom out-number the corporate executives and dealership staff, but by no more than three-to-one. The personal attention is what makes this manufacturer unique. Each customer is special, and the company itself has a relationship with them unlike that found at a high-volume manufacturer. Where else can a potential customer meet face-to-face the CEO or president of the company to discuss their pending purchase?

In brief conversation with Ian Robertson, he reminds me a bit of Tony Blair - both in looks and behavior. Ian responds to my inquiry on the future direction of Rolls with respect to the competition from Bentley and Aston Martin (initially) with a seemingly well-rehearsed politically correct answer, but quickly moves into a more off-the-cuff response after a slight prodding. Mr. Robertson reminds us that even as we view the current products from them as ultra-luxury, Rolls has a rich history of a number of different products, and as such we might see something other than what we normally associate with Rolls-Royce. Could this mean a sports car or SUV coming to our shores soon?

Certainly, we expect to have a convertible in the Rolls line-up in the near future, if for no other reason than to satisfy the good people of Beverly Hills. Behind darkly tinted glass of a Phantom works for many, others prefer to have the added recognition and instant celebrity that life with a convertible Rolls brings, and they want everyone to know it.

Even closer to the present a non-U.S. model is on-hand for us to ponder. The Rolls Royce Phantom EWB (extended wheel base) sits in the showroom majestically overshadowing everything else around. The EWB is meant to be chauffer-driven, and is principally destined for the likes of Asia and the Middle East. The EWB is on hand to gauge the possibilities of producing a version for our market here in the states. Chauffeurs might be on short supply here, but show me a Phantom owner who doesn't think bigger is better, and I will show you somebody who needs a larger garage.

The stately dealership located on Olympic Boulevard, home to Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini, seems exceptionally appropriate to temporarily house this vehicle of Olympic proportions. Honestly, I am overwhelmed by the size of this mega-titan of road going machines. While the Phantom turns heads, the EWB leaves onlookers speechless. This model might be only some ten inches longer, however the rear seating now seems to be on par with the dimensions of the vehicle itself, which otherwise could arguably be a tight for some even in the commanding scale of the Phantom. As many of those that have this sort of disposable income could very well be in professional sports, the added length will be a welcome relief to the likes of Shaq and the other NBA players looking for a super-luxury ride.

If a few buyers (barely double-digit numbers) in the U.S. actually create the demand, we could have this additional model vying for floor space in the Rolls dealers around the country.

Pity those who have the standard Phantom if the EWB version makes these shores. Let's face it, if the extend wheel base version is the new benchmark to success in this 'burb, everyone else may end up feeling like they're slumming it - even in Beverly Hills.

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