Liv­ing the life of the rich and fa­mous with the lat­est Rolls-royce and a Jet­stream J32

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words: Ash­ley Webb Pho­tos: Adam Croy


Ionly very re­cently got to drive a Rolls-royce for the first time — the new Wraith — but I’ve al­ways have a mild fas­ci­na­tion for the mar­que. Ever since the early ’ 70s, af­ter spot­ting a deep red Sil­ver Shadow on my way to high school, the car’s mys­te­ri­ous and iconic sym­bol — the Spirit of Ec­stasy — has re­mained firmly im­planted in my mind as an out­ward sign of wealth and suc­cess. I’m not alone in that be­lief. In­deed, for more than a cen­tury Rolls-royce has been syn­ony­mous with pres­tige motoring, crafts­man­ship, per­for­mance and el­e­gance and, even today, re­mains one of the most, if not the most, rec­og­niz­able mar­ques any­where in the world.

The orig­i­nal com­bi­na­tion of Charles Rolls and the en­ter­pris­ing Henry Royce in de­sign­ing and build­ing a car that would set a stan­dard for ex­cel­lence last­ing over a cen­tury seems al­most im­pos­si­ble by today’s stan­dards. Charles and Henry paid par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to de­tail from the out­set, with the in­ten­tion of be­ing the best in the busi­ness. The un­mis­tak­able Pan­theon-style (refers to the por­tico of the clas­si­cal Ro­man tem­ple, com­mis­sioned by Mar­cus Agrippa in 31BC and re­built by Em­peror Hadrian in 126AD) ra­di­a­tor grille, which made its de­but in 1904, distin­guished the Rolls-royce from lesser cars and still iden­ti­fies the lat­est mod­els.

Build­ing on that tra­di­tion, the new ra­di­a­tor de­sign — par­tic­u­larly for the lat­est Ghost and Wraith — also fol­lows the prin­ci­ples of aero­dy­nam­ics, tak­ing its in­flu­ence from a jet air in­take.

How­ever, the mys­tique that has sur­rounded Rolls-royce from the very be­gin­ning has much to do with the qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als and hand-crafted man­u­fac­ture — a com­bi­na­tion that’s pro­duced cars pos­sessed with an un­par­al­leled longevity only matched by few, if any, other pro­duc­tion cars. At the Rolls-royce pro­duc­tion plant, crafts­peo­ple ap­plied their skills to over­all as­sem­bly, hand-formed chas­sis, hand-sewn leather, hand­pol­ished wood along with handfin­ished and -pol­ished bright work. Today these skilled peo­ple, who of­ten be­gan as ap­pren­tices in their re­spec­tive trades, pride them­selves on their crafts­man­ship and of­ten re­main with the com­pany for decades. These same skills are still ap­plied to Roll-royce cars today.

Ghost Rider

The Rolls-royce Ghost Se­ries II was un­veiled ear­lier this year at the Geneva Mo­tor Show, re­plac­ing the pre­vi­ous Se­ries I model that de­buted in 2009. Al­though Rolls-royce is re­luc­tant to ut­ter such a word as ‘ facelift’, its chal­lenge was to in­tro­duce sub­tle changes to the ul­tra-lux­ury en­try-level model in or­der to ‘re­fresh’ the mas­sive sedan, to en­sure it re­mained at the very cut­ting edge of an ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment to sat­isfy a specif­i­cally tar­geted younger, in­de­pen­dently wealthy, en­tre­pre­neur­ial and de­mand­ing cus­tomer.

As such, the Ghost Se­ries II is more of a driver’s car and less likely to be chauf­feur-driven.

This year, Rolls-royce ex­pects to sell some­where in the vicin­ity of 4000 units, due in no small part to the ex­tra­or­di­nary suc­cess of the Se­ries I and a huge step up from 2003, when the first BMWbacked mod­els man­aged an­nual sales of just 500 or so.

Our plan was to get be­hind the wheel of the lat­est Rolls-royce Ghost Se­ries II, and take it out to Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port for a photo shoot in suit­able ex­ec­u­tive sur­round­ings, and this would mean an 8.00am start to the day — nec­es­sary in or­der to at­tend a sched­uled se­cu­rity brief­ing at the air­port, as we were head­ing air­side. Thank­fully, Neil D’arcy-brain, brand man­ager for Team Mcmil­lan Limited, was able to have this stun­ning, brand-spank­ing-new Ghost ready and wait­ing. Neil, a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional, gave us a quick run­down on the car and all its elec­tronic wiz­ardry — and, be­lieve me, there’s plenty of it — be­fore we set off for the air­port. Luck­ily, hav­ing al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced the Wraith ear­lier this year, at least we had some idea of how ev­ery­thing worked and what to ex­pect, de­spite the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two cars.

Neil was also quick to point out, and quite rightly very proud of the fact, that this par­tic­u­lar car was built to his spec­i­fi­ca­tions. It was fin­ished in Sil­ver Sand Metal­lic with acres of per­fectly hand­stitched Hot­spur Red and black leather, not to men­tion broad swathes of con­trast­ing cross-banded burled wal­nut, all hand crafted, of course. I have to say, Neil’s choice was spot on for my taste. Ac­cord­ing to Neil, 100 per cent of Phan­toms are be­spoke, while around 80 per cent of Ghosts de­liv­ered are also be­spoke, in­clud­ing deal­ers’ fac­tory or­ders, which are more of­ten than not tai­lored specif­i­cally for a client.

In Com­mand

On first im­pres­sion the Ghost is an im­pos­ing ve­hi­cle, no mat­ter how you look at it. From the in­side, the el­e­vated driv­ing po­si­tion en­sures that the driver is clearly in com­mand, and ad­vised of all road con­di­tions thanks to a heads-up dis­play, night vi­sion with pedes­trian and an­i­mal recog­ni­tion, and adap­tive LED head­lights that bend out of on­com­ing traf­fic when the high beam is ac­ti­vated. The Ghost is also equipped with a Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing de­vice, just in case your mind wan­ders off the job.

Look­ing through the heads-up dis­play, the fa­mous Spirit of Ec­stasy fig­urine is clearly vis­i­ble across the dis­tinctly ta­pered ‘wake chan­nel’ at the front of the bon­net, which em­anates from her wings, evok­ing the sight of a jet’s vapour trail. This iconic sym­bol of lux­ury is cel­e­brat­ing her 103rd birth­day this year. In ad­di­tion the fly­ing lady im­age is vis­i­ble within Ghost Se­ries II’S cabin, de­picted be­low the crys­tal glass sur­face of the new ro­tary con­troller. In short, this snazzy gad­get — the Spirit of Ec­stasy Ro­tary Con­troller — al­lows users to write char­ac­ters by finger on the touch screen, and im­parts the abil­ity to scroll through func­tion menus by turn­ing the chrome dial and press­ing down to ac­cess on­board Wi-fi, sat­nav or the au­dio sys­tem.

Match­ing the elec­tronic gad­gets, the in­te­rior de­sign of the Ghost looks con­tem­po­rary, and has ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a ve­hi­cle nudg­ing the 600 grand mark. The first thing I no­ticed was the ex­cep­tional at­ten­tion to de­tail that is ex­pected of Roll­sRoyce — sump­tu­ous nat­u­ral-grain leather up­hol­stery sourced from North­ern Europe, well-de­signed seats that boast an ar­ray of func­tions in­clud­ing elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable thigh sup­port for front seat pas­sen­gers, and a re­vised rear-seat de­sign to en­sure ab­so­lute com­fort for those wish­ing to con­duct busi­ness, or sim­ply sit back, re­lax and en­joy the ride, or per­haps a video via one of the rear screens (which op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently of each other). Our test car also in­cluded three-level heat­ing and cool­ing and an op­tional ‘mas­sage’ func­tion.

Al­though rather in­con­spic­u­ous, the in­stru­ment di­als and clock have been in­di­vid­u­ally ap­plied with pol­ished metal chap­lets around the di­als, evok­ing the pre­ci­sion de­sign of hand-made, lux­ury wrist watches, whilst the matte chrome cen­tres ‘float’ in the mid­dle of each in­stru­ment.

And let’s not for­get about the um­brel­las that are very neatly stowed away in the two front doors — these are not just or­di­nary um­brel­las, they are in fact made from ul­tra wa­ter-re­pel­lent Te­flon. Putting one of these be­spoke brol­lies back wet isn’t a prob­lem ei­ther, as the tube is heated to en­sure it is dry again and ready for the next rainy day.

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