You can tell when the introduction of a new car is vitally important. Rather than wait to stage the unveiling at a major international car show (where the battle for media coverage and customer deposits can be ferocious), a carmaker will organize separate events around the world in order to draw people in. But it’s a rare thing indeed for a manufacturer to hold an entire slate of unveilings around the world and then rely on all attendees to remain quiet about what they’ve just seen.
Such is the case with the all-new Rolls-Royce Phantom, which has just been officially unveiled in London, but which select individuals had the chance to study firsthand weeks ago. Yours truly had the distinct pleasure of seeing the Phantom in person and interviewing chief designer Giles Taylor at a private event in Hell’s Kitchen in early June. This event was just one of several held around the world where representatives from the British brand greeted the media and prospective customers alike before showing them what years of effort had wrought.
This is the first all-new Phantom to be released since 2003. In the automotive world, 14 years between new models is an eternity, a length of time that no other car brand in the world could accommodate, not even the best of the best. But the biggest and boldest vehicle in the Rolls-Royce fleet has a certain timeless quality to it. The current Phantom still looks like no other car in the world and remains a relatively rare sight, so the design has endured.
The genius of the new Phantom, the eighth generation in total, is that it retains the iconic presence of the current model, but manages to improve upon it all the same.
The genius of the new Phantom, the eighth generation in total, is that it retains the iconic presence of the current model, but manages to improve upon it all the same. (Initial customer response to the new design, according to Rolls-Royce, has been incredibly strong.) Under the sleek yet imposing skin of the Phantom, almost everything is completely new. The new all-aluminum spaceframe—which will form the basis for all future Rolls-Royce models—is stronger, lighter, and enables an even quieter and smoother ride. The twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12, also an entirely new construct, promises even greater levels of effortless performance.
But there are other cars with aluminum spaceframe platforms and V12 engines; on the surface of it, these elements are only tiny slivers of what create such a sense of occasion with the new Phantom. The activation of the forward-opening coach-style doors is referred to as “the embrace” for the way in which they swing wide and welcome passengers inside. The passenger compartment is not referred to as a passenger compartment—too pedestrian. Instead, it’s called “the suite” for the sheer opulence found in all the touchpoints, from the carpet to the seats to the switches.
And, perhaps most fascinating of all, the new Phantom comes fitted with something called “the gallery.” For the first time ever in a production vehicle, the space that incorporates the instrument panel and dashboard runs from one side of the car to the other and is completely encased in glass.
Behind this glass, space has been reserved in the upper dashboard for owners to display bespoke works of art that they commission themselves. “In the 18th century, miniatures were highly fashionable and valuable items of art that allowed their owners to carry images of their loved one with them wherever they travelled,” says Taylor, the creative mind behind the gallery. “I really loved that idea of taking your art with you, when travelling, and so I acted on it. Now, our clients will be able to do the same.”
Upwards of 90 per cent of Rolls-Royce customers order at least some bespoke treatments on their cars. The idea behind the gallery takes the concept of bespoke to exciting new levels for the true motoring and cultural connoisseur—the Phantom owner can assign a favoured artist to work directly with the carmaker to ensure this aspect of the car is truly one-of-a-kind.
The 2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom is an exceedingly special car. To further celebrate its official unveiling, Rolls-Royce gathered together the finest examples of the previous seven generations in a bespoke car show called “The Great Eight Phantoms’ Exhibition,” also opening in London starting July 27. One of the cars, a fifth-generation Phantom once owned by John Lennon, is on loan from the Royal British Columbia Museum.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter, here.