There was little Goodwood couldn’t do for the Phantom buyer. When the Germans took over in 1998, Rolls-Royce tucked in for five years and revealed the Phantom at the Detroit motor show in 2003. In one move BMW took Rolls-Royce to the top, and the Phantom stayed there for 14 long years. The car remained the pinnacle of luxury all that time, giving customers unprecedented choice — most were Bespoke commissions, by Goodwood’s own personalisation department, where the sky is the limit.
Really, you could have a starlight headliner, a jewellery box, a bespoke picnic set, matching luggage, or maybe a piece of trim studded with 446 diamonds. The freer your imagination, the more expensive the car.
Now for its all-new eighth-generation Phantom, Rolls-Royce really let its imagination run because outrageous cost-options aren’t going to come up with themselves. Hence the novel (read, profitable) idea of an application of glass running uninterrupted across the Phantom’s dashboard, that Rolls-Royce termed ‘The Gallery’. Think of it as a display case of sorts, showing off how much you’ve spent on the car.
Within the space behind this glass, owners can commission art pieces from their favourite artists, and curate the works in their car. Or if your name’s Floyd Mayweather, you can just stuff your Gallery full of cash and call it a day.
Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller Ötvös explained the whole concept behind the Gallery quite eloquently after he’d put the thesaurus down: “As patrons increasingly commission a Rolls-Royce for its aesthetic power, they trust in the knowledge that only the finest materials fashioned at the hands of a collective of skilled artisans will produce a motor car that transcends its primary role as a means of conveyance, to become a meaningful and substantive expression of art, design and engineering excellence. ‘The Gallery’ is an innovation that furthers Rolls-Royce’s unparalleled Bespoke capabilities. Patrons are now invited to commission artworks for their own personal Gallery within Phantom, in essence, bringing art, within art.”
There is a car involved, too. In the 92 years of the nameplate the Phantom has gone through seven generations, and this all-new eighth-generation model premieres an aluminium architecture that will go on as the next Ghost, Wraith, Dawn, and the Cullinan SUV.
Rolls-Royce says this platform is all-Goodwood, instead of being a derivative of a parent company’s mass-market job. Without blushing they hint at Volkswagen and Bentley. The architecture is good to go with different propulsion and traction systems so it’s future-proofed for electrified semi-autonomous Rollers.
Engineers lightened the structure while stiffening it by 30 per cent over Phantom VII, improving comfort with the added luxury of air suspension and electronic chassis control systems. The ‘Flagbearer’ — like the poor sods who had to walk ahead of a motor car a century ago and wave a red flag to warn others of an oncoming vehicle — is a system that uses a camera to read the road ahead and adjust the suspension on the fly at speeds of up to 100kph. Rolls-Royce completely redesigned the suspension and threw in rear-wheel steering to aid stability, but still it’s all about the ride and Goodwood says this is the most comfortable, quietest car it’s ever built. To create “the most silent motor car in the world” engineers included 6mm double glazing and more than 130kg of sound insulation all around the car. The result is a vehicle 10 per cent quieter than the outgoing Phantom, and Rolls-Royce claims they had to check if their testing instruments were working properly because the sound levels were so low.
The engine is a V12, of course, though this time instead of being naturally aspirated it is now a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged motor making well over 100 horsepower more than its predecessor, with a peak of 563bhp and 900Nm of torque from 1,700rpm. In any case it won’t be short of speed, or optional equipment.