A Celebration of Perfection
Rolls-Royce commemorates 10 years of success at Goodwood with an exclusive collection of bespoke motor cars. Karl Peskett learns about the intricacies of the design.
Rolls-Royce aficionados will well remember New Year’s Day of 2003 as a historic occasion for the brand.
While everyone else toasted the beginning of yet another 365 days, Rolls-Royce staff were busy gathering in the Chichester countryside.
The resolutions they made that day weren’t just about spending more time with the kids or going on a nice holiday. It was about creating perfection.
Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood facility was officially opened on January 1, 2003 and the first Phantom was presented to its owner at a minute past midnight. This was the car that not only reinvigorated the brand, but also placed Rolls-Royce at the pinnacle of automotive engineering. And those who have since made the trip to Goodwood will undoubtedly agree that the factory is as much of an enigmatic marvel as the Phantoms which are created within.
With the entire roof of the facility covered in green sedum plants, the building has been
designed to blend into its surrounds. And because it is also set low in the grounds, there’s hardly any way to see the factory until you’re virtually on top of it.The chrome signage, with the iconic Rolls-Royce logo emblazoned across it, is perhaps the only giveaway.
With minimal impact on its surroundings, the Goodwood plant is rated as one of the least invasive factories in the motoring world. Over 400,000 trees and shrubs were planted during the landscaping of the grounds, and skylarks have been known to nest and brood on the roof. And the facility has managed to expand over the past 10 years while still remaining completely unobtrusive.
The expansion of Goodwood was primarily for the accommodation of new Phantom variants and the production of Ghost and Wraith models. But with incessant orders being placed for personalised Phantoms, it has also been necessary to increase the bespoke team’s footprint in terms of space as well as headcount.
Rolls-Royce has also seen unprecedented demand for its cars on the back of its bespoke business, and Richard Collar, Head of Bespoke Sales and Marketing, can vouch for this. He says: “In the past decade, we’ve had a steady increase in our personalised business. For example, in the Middle East, virtually 100 per cent of Phantom and Ghost production have an element of personalisation.”
The scope of the team is quite simply a spectrum of possibilities, according to Collar. “It can be something as simple as a certain thread for contrast stitching. It can also be a unique leather colour, a new paint, a specific wood veneer, a personalised headrest embroidery, or a personalised treadplate,” he says.
“Bespoke can be something understated and modest, or it can be bold and outrageous, and yet it’s everything in the middle.”
This year, the bespoke team is tasked with creating a special series of cars to celebrate a decade of success at Goodwood. Staying true to the philosophy of Rolls-Royce co-founder Sir Henry Royce, the team has created the impressively intricate Home of Rolls-Royce Collection.
The glovebox in this exclusive series features a “celebration” marquetry accent made of no less than 11 different types of wood. Echoing the different veneers used throughout Ghost and Phantom interiors, sycamore, holly and satinwood were chosen, and applications of various techniques lend a shadow effect that creates an illusion of depth.
Rolls-Royce vehicles are exported to every corner of the globe, and this explains why the motif used throughout the car’s design is that of a compass. Stitching the complex patterns onto the armrests and consoles is an arduous affair – craftsmen spend over an hour completing each piece, with 112,533 stitches applied using precision embroidery machines that perform 1,000 stitches per minute. After a week, and a 22-stage paint process, Rolls-Royce’s coachline painter Mark Court then spends six gruelling hours painting not only the coachline, but also a half-compass motif.The final touch sees the coordinates of Goodwood engraved onto the treadplates, the umbrella handles, and the pedestal of the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine.
Regardless of how onerous the creation of each design element is, there is no rushing production at Goodwood.
Because perfection takes time.
“Take the best that exists and make it better. When it doesn’t exist, design it.”
– The late Sir Henry Royce