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AN INTERVIEW WITH IAN CAMERON

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 Sun, Jun 14, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Ian Cameron and the 200EX (John Grafman)

AN INTERVIEW WITH IAN CAMERON Interview by John Grafman Transcription by Kurt Fuhrmann Royce Royce Design Director Ian Cameron set aside some time to talk with LA Car's John Grafman during a press preview of the new 200EX concept car. JG: Ian, on the new 200EX, what are some of the key points you favor most on this vehicle? IC: That is a difficult question to answer, because I always see it as a complete entity. Like a piece of music, it is not one particular note but the whole piece. But the role of this car is clearly to introduce Rolls Royce to a new audience. For many we know, the Phantom has too much formality, too much presence. Some people love and demand just that. But there is definitely feedback we are getting from the customers who have seen it; they want a car which is really usable on a daily basis. The 200EX is not intimidating, as some people would find the Phantom. We find particularly that girlfriends, wives, ladies are approaching the car with a completely different point of view.

JG: On this particular vehicle, when did you start on the design? IC: The project as a formal project is about three years old. An experimental car typically may take up to a year to build. Where the ideas, inspiration actually start up is like a piece of string that's very hard to nail down. JG: As the Phantom has produced several derivatives, will we see derivatives off of the Ghost? IC: I think it is a possibility. It's the logical next step, and if this model range is successful, it can also spin off quite a few cars. JG: Is this perhaps a step for Rolls-Royce to go in the direction of smaller vehicles, and maybe reaching a little further down-scale?

IC: We don't see it as going down-scale or to smaller vehicles. Honestly, we start with a package and a role that the vehicle has to play, and that's how you arrive at the size. The size is not a compromise. If we were to produce a sedan with less than four seats, it would be smaller again. But the aim would not be to produce something small. It depends entirely on the role the car has to fulfill. JG: The interior on the 200EX is a definite departure from the Phantom. Why did you decide to go in this direction? IC: The goal was to offer something different, but not in any way inferior. For example, the type of leather is exactly the same as Phantom, which is unique in the automotive industry - but it has a different grain. Our grains are natural grains, they are not embossed. We always put a high emphasis on handling materials naturally, having natural finishes. This of course this all takes time, it takes a certain understanding. We don't stain our woods they are natural colors and hues. And that's not a separation that you would want to see between the Phantom range and this car. What we always say is that you have to imagine that even this model, this cloth, this garment, is cut with the same hand who's cut Phantom. And that is very important to the customer. JG: Well the styling on this exterior-wise is more swept back. Is this to capture more of a performance aspect?

IC: Yes, but not just performance. The Phantom in its own right is an extremely fast, powerful car. But the message behind this car is different; this is where we pull down the formality of presence on the car. There are of course aerodynamic issues, efficiency, there are issues of production to fulfill. There are a lot of reasons why the car has evolved in this way. Nonetheless the car is clearly recognizable as a stable mate of the Phantom without being a pocket Phantom. JG: The grill is a very noticeable departure from the Phantom. IC: Hopefully, hopefully, there is a little homage I think to the aircraft side of the Rolls Royce history. We all love planes as well. And actually, we are saying the grill does look like an air intake, it looks a bit like a jet intake - by moving the bars back. Again it is moving, evolving the grill in very logical sort of way. It is integrated into the body, nonetheless it is recognizable as a Rolls Royce grill. JG: May we presume that Rolls Royce is expecting greater vehicle sales with this model? IC: The answer to that question is yes and no. These models will be produced in higher volume than Phantom, but the numbers will still be small. We are not going after the sort of volume that Bentley or Aston Martin has been getting. Exclusivity is a very big factor in buying a Rolls Royce; and this we will adhere to.

JG: And this model is very similar to a production model. Can you key in to what differentiates this from the upcoming Ghost? IC: I think this is virtually the production car. If you can see something different, I will be very surprised. There are some features on the car, which are experimental, and which we will see what sort of feedback comes from the people that have seen the car. The hand bag holder in the rear seat has been receiving extremely positive responses from the female customers. We have a feature in the boot, in the trunk as you call it, putting a wet overcoat in and letting it dry during the drive. These are the some of the experimental features that may or may not make it to production. We shall see how they go down. JG: And everybody likes to be treated special. If the basic car is not special enough for some, what would you anticipate being able to offer for this particular model under this bespoke program? IC: Obviously, the Bespoke program is also key to this model of course. Typically, our customers demand the possibility to bespoke - individualize their own cars - in a very special way. And that program will be offered here as well. JG: Is there anything particular that you would like to see integrated in the car? IC: I think maybe the things we like to say we have in the car already. But, with these cars, the role of color trim, the quality of materials, the type of materials, how they are put together, and how they are composed are so important and so influential on the character of the car. That aspect we are very willing to explore and play around with.

For LA Car's take on the Rolls Royce 200EX, click here. For more information about Rolls Royce products, go to rolls-roycemotorcars.com.

 

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