PREVIEW: ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM DROPHEAD
Published on Sat, Dec 30, 2006
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Roy Nakano Readers of LA Car may find the car on this page to look remarkably familiar. That may be because a similar vehicle was debuted by Rolls-Royce as the 100EX concept car not too long ago. A sketch by former Roll-Royce Chief Designer Marek Djordevic was revealed in an interview published last January (see An Interview With Marek Djordevic). A year later, the production version is ready to roll. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will unveil its new Phantom Drophead Coupé at the North American International Auto Show in January. Production of the new car will start at Goodwood in the summer of 2007. The two-door, four-seat convertible is a less formal interpretation of classic Rolls-Royce design. Using the lightweight rigidity of an all-aluminium spaceframe, it marries modern technology to a sleek, streamlined convertible body.
Its exterior lines echo the styling of the great Rolls-Royce cars: a long bonnet, large-diameter wheels, short front and long rear overhangs and the quintessential dynamic line descending along its flanks. Inside, the design emphasizes the airy openness of top-down motoring, embracing the elements and creating a stunning, social environment. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars current Chief Designer, Ian Cameron, said, "This car gave us the chance to think about the very nature of convertible motoring and in particular what it means to Rolls-Royce. Above all we were determined to make this car a joy to live with and engineered it to give years of effortless service to its owner." A number of features first seen on 100EX, the experimental convertible shown by Rolls-Royce in 2004, have been engineered into the new Phantom Drophead Coupé. Two of the most visually striking of these are the brushed steel bonnet and A-pillar and the teak decking for the rear hood cover. The brushed steel is machine finished to give a uniform grain before undergoing extensive hand polishing to achieve a perfect sheen. At the rear, the teak decking is treated with a carefully blended mix of oils to preserve a natural finish and a long lasting lustre that is as beautiful as it is hardy.
Front opening coach doors have been homologated for the new car and add considerably to the ease of access to the rear seat, as well as to the overall aesthetics. Unique to Rolls-Royce, the doors dramatically transform the Phantom Drophead Coupé's looks, giving a side profile reminiscent of classic sports cars of the '60s. Crucially, they also aid the overall stiffness of the body as the rear hinged doors allow for an uninterrupted A-pillar. Luggage is housed within a picnic boot, a split tail compartment that opens in two parts giving easy access to the 315 litres of space. The lower tailgate provides a comfortable seating platform for two adults when lowered. Careful engineering of the folding soft-top roof means that it stows in a relatively small space resulting in a luggage compartment that remains unaffected regardless of whether the roof is up or down. The fabric hood is the largest of any modern convertible car and its acoustic insulation is exemplary, according to the manufacturer. Five layers of material are used to ensure that the cabin remains a serene space, even at speed. Lined with cashmere it has been tailored to stow in a relatively small space.
At the core of the Phantom Drophead Coupé is an advanced aluminium chassis. Lightweight and exceptionally strong, it should impact positively on ride comfort, handling and safety. Hand made, it requires over 140 metres of welding in each chassis. Power is supplied by the same 6.75 litre naturally aspirated V12 engine found in the Phantom saloon, giving brisk performance and a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chairman and Chief Executive, Ian Robertson, said, "The Phantom Drophead Coupé marks the next chapter in our history. While the saloon continues as the brand flagship, the Drophead leads us in a more informal direction, attracting new buyers to the marque. In the coming years other new models will strengthen the company still further." The Phantom Drophead Coupé has been carefully crafted to be aesthetically pleasing, yet practical too. Wood, leather, chrome and brushed steel have been used where most appropriate. Form and function have equal billing. The simplicity of the design belies a car built to provide years of effortless service. It will offer owners an unparalleled convertible experience, combining compelling driveability with exceptional engineering, technology and design - hand crafted from the finest materials to an exceptional level of quality.
A FEW DETAILS The Phantom Drophead Coupé uses 1300 new parts over those developed for the Phantom. The Phantom Drophead Coupé is the first such car to be offered by Rolls-Royce since 2002, the last being the Corniche. The Phantom Drophead Coupé will be hand built alongside the Phantom at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars' manufacturing plant at Goodwood on the South Coast of England. The 2007 Rolls-Royce Motor Cars product range: Phantom $333,350 Launched Jan 03 Phantom Extended Wheelbase $395,000 Launched Mar 05 Phantom Drophead Coupé $407,000 Launched Jan 07 For more information about Rolls-Royce products, go to www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com.