Giles Tay­lor In­ter­view

Automobile - - Design -

IT’ S AL­WAYS A

plea­sure to talk with a chief de­signer whose com­pe­tence is greater than his ego. It doesn’t hap­pen that of­ten, but with Giles Tay­lor of Rolls-Royce, it’s a given that ev­ery­thing he has to say about one of his com­pany’s projects is go­ing to be worth­while and ed­u­ca­tional.

Tay­lor be­gan our con­ver­sa­tion by char­ac­ter­iz­ing key Cul­li­nan de­sign goal el­e­ments as “pro­por­tion and pres­ence” and went on to say that he’d been en­cour­aged to treat the shape as “a piece of bedrock,” which is rather a nice im­age for a car meant to be on the one hand in­cred­i­bly ca­pa­ble in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions and on the other supremely lux­u­ri­ous and el­e­gant when de­posit­ing pas­sen­gers in front of an ex­cep­tional ho­tel or restau­rant. One of the op­tions for Cul­li­nan is an in­ter­nal glass par­ti­tion sep­a­rat­ing the cabin from the lug­gage space so a door­man re­mov­ing lug­gage does not in­con­ve­nience the pas­sen­gers.

Moun­tain ref­er­ences came up as we talked, with men­tions of Kil­i­man­jaro, the Mat­ter­horn, Ever­est, and the Hi­malayas, elic­it­ing scenes of im­pos­ing mag­nif­i­cence, ge­o­log­i­cal endurance, per­ma­nence—all at­tributes that R-R em­braces. I ques­tioned in my col­umn the aban­don­ment of the classical flat-plane ra­di­a­tor shell. He pro­vided a log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for al­ter­ing the “Parthenon” grille. “We get buf­fet­ing on the wind­screen, in­creased noise, so we have had to mod­ify the shape yet keep our iden­tity,” Tay­lor said. “I had to in­sist on a small hor­i­zon­tal area at the top, and it was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the stamp­ing engi­neers.”

Tay­lor makes a lot of the fact that Rolls-Royce was in the busi­ness of get­ting through deserts and jun­gles long be­fore any of to­day’s lux­ury SUV providers and sug­gested that some of the sup­posed com­peti­tors for Cul­li­nan were “all right for the school run but not nec­es­sar­ily for tiger hunt­ing in In­dian jun­gles, where our cars ex­celled for Ma­hara­jahs long ago.”

He was also in­spired in part by mil­i­tary staff cars, which were def­i­nitely not trucks but were in­tended to “get se­nior of­fi­cers in and out of com­bat sit­u­a­tions quickly and safely.” But Tay­lor also wanted to have the Cul­li­nan “at home in May­fair in the evening, with enough bright­work to catch the light, but only just enough.” We’d say Cul­li­nan does that ex­tremely well, too. AM

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