Rolls-Royce Limited was created over a famous lunch in May 1904. Henry Royce, a successful engineer, struck a deal with Charles Rolls, owner of one of the first car dealerships in the UK. The rest, as they say, is history as Rolls-Royce have created a fine tradition out of making very expensive, very luxurious, and instantly recognisable cars. Their latest expression of the Phantom line-up is the Phantom Drophead Coupé - a more relaxed and less formal side of the Phantom range. Inspired by the J-class racing yachts of the 1930s (known for their performance and use of natural materials) the result is a car that epitomises romance coupled with performance motoring.
The Phantom Drophead Coupé is more streamlined than that of previous Rolls-Royce cars. It has a long bonnet, large diameter wheels, a short front, long rear overhang and slim LED side lights which sit above larger round driving lamps. At the front sits a new, more rakish grille, giving the car a more casual air. On top sits the 'Spirit of Ecstasy (Roll-Royce's lady emblem) who these days has a more life-like appearance thanks to advance computer software. At the side the Drophead sports it's unique Rolls-Royce designed front coach doors which make entry and exit considerably easier. The yacht-like rear teak decking, which has the appearance of a fresh and unprocessed look, has become Drophead Coupé's signature piece as well as its' soft-top hood. Made with five layers of insulation material and lined with a cashmere blend, the hood is more like an Italian suit than a traditional fabric roof. The roof stows away neatly in a relatively small space.
Inside, the design emphasises the airy opennessof top-down motoring. There is a move toward keeping things as natural as possible making Phantom Drophead Coupé an instant raw beauty. Materials are used in a way that emphasises their natural charm, for example during the design process bleaches, stains and lacquers were shunned as far as possible in favour of more natural finishes. Hands touch only chrome, leather or wood inside. Drophead Coupé has been designed to be enjoyed with the top down no matter what the weather is doing. To this end all-weather surfaces are used throughout, like seats with no ridges – giving a smooth surface so that moisture can be wiped straight off and in place of traditional floor mats more practical sisal mats are used which are designed to deal with moisture and humidity. An exceptional sound system has been specially designed for the Phantom Drophead Coupé, taking into account the differing acoustic properties of the convertible. Nine channels of sound arrive via 15 speakers, creating a stereophonic experience
Ample power is supplied by a 6.75-litre, naturally aspirated, V12 engine. Developing at 338 kW and 720 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed ZF automatic shift-by-wire gearbox. The powerful V12 will accelerate the Phantom Drophead Coupé to 100km/h in under 5.8 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 240 km/h
In order to eliminate 'scuttle shake' the challenge in designing any convertible lies in retaining a high degree of torsional rigidity throughout the body while keeping weight down. This has been very well achieved in the Drophead Coupé with designers using a light-weight all-aluminium spaceframe combined with a triangulated A-pillar which runs right down to the floor of the car – making the Phantom Drophead Coupé perhaps the most rigid convertible available today. The A-pillar also forms part of Drophead's rollbar strengthening. Other safety system specifications include an intelligent braking and restraint system, combined with integral seatbelts and airbags.
With more than 350 man-hours invested in each car, not including the time taken to build the engine, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé might be the most beautiful of all cars for sale. The vehicle embodies a romantic and care-free lifestyle filled with days out driving in the English countryside. Pricing is determined by options chosen through Roll-Royce's Bespoke programme and certainly will run well into a good couple of million rand on our side of the pond.