"Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it doesn't exist, design it." Sir Henry Royce
'Project Rolls-Royce' began on 28 July 1998, when BMW Group became custodians of the marque. The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is the result of an intense four year design and engineering programme that has not only produced a new motor car, but also established a manufacturing plant and a new company. Each facet of the programme has been faithful to Royce's maxim. In creating the company, motor car and plant, perfection has been the goal.
The Phantom has authentic Rolls-Royce design proportions combined with 21st century engineering integrity. Exterior authenticity embraces a long bonnet and wheelbase, short front and long rear overhangs, a strong C-post and discreet rear window.
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom has generous interior dimensions and a prominent seating position for comfort and authority. Rear seat passengers sit alongside the C-post, well back in the motor car where they enjoy the highest levels of privacy and safety.
Adopting a fundamental rather than an incremental approach to designing a new motor car, the Rolls-Royce Phantom benefits from the application of leading edge technology, most notably in its aluminum space frame structure. As well as being far lighter than a steel shell of an equivalent size, it is significantly more rigid to the benefit of both handling and ride comfort.
Central to the design has been the concept of relaxed control over the motor car. This can be seen in the elevated driving position, the effortless operation of the controls and the refined performance from the engine.
A purpose-designed 6.75-litre V12 offers ample power and huge reserves of torque combined with exceptional fuel economy: headline figures include the 5.7 seconds it needs to sprint from 0-60 mph and the 25.7 mpg (11.0 ltr/100kms) it returns over the EU extra urban fuel economy cycle. Maximum power is 453 bhp (338 kW) with peak torque of 720 Nm (531 lb ft) reached at 3,500 rpm. More significantly, 75 per cent of that torque is available from 1,000 rpm.
Drive is to the rear wheels via a 'shift-by-wire' six speed automatic transmission. The chassis has sophisticated double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension allied to self-leveling air springing on all four wheels.
The huge wheels and tires have been specially developed for the Rolls-Royce Phantom: it is the first car in the world to feature the advanced PAX run-flat tire system as standard.
Naturally the highest levels of craftsmanship and the best quality materials can be found in the motor car. It takes, for example, up to 16 hides to complete the interior of the car where the soft natural grain leather is complemented by exquisite cabinetry and fine veneers.
But the project has not been about achieving a single superlative - the biggest, the fastest, the most powerful - but rather about finding the optimum balance of all attributes. This is not a concept new to Rolls-Royce...
"Rolls-Royce supremacy is the reward of superlative design and
meticulous care in manufacture. Its secret lies in the proved excellence
of the Rolls-Royce productions in Durability, Trustworthiness, Economy,
Speed, Silence and Comfort. Many cars have attempted to specialize in one
or other of these points, but the Rolls-Royce is alone in that it embodies
With a Rolls-Royce, superlatives are found in the details. Details like the Phantom's unique independently opening rear coach doors, designed to make entry to and exit from the motor car as easy, as comfortable and as graceful as possible. Details like the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy, which can lowered out of sight at the touch of a button.
And details like the purpose-designed umbrellas neatly stowed in the doors and the synchronized wheel centers, which keep the famous interlinked RR badges on all four wheels in an upright position at all times.
But perhaps the essence of the Rolls-Royce Phantom is best summed in one word, a word that can be found in no dictionary: 'waftability'.
Its origin can be traced back to the turn of the last century. In 1907, a writer from the British motoring magazine Autocar described riding in the Rolls-Royce 40/50 hp as "... the feeling of being wafted through the countryside." Engineers at Rolls-Royce quickly coined waftability to encapsulate that sensation.
Waftability is achieved in many ways. Effortless acceleration from low engine speeds is one. Near silence of operation is another. A cosseting ride is a given as is the refinement and comfort of the interior.
But waftability can also be found in the lines of the motor car itself: standing still the Phantom looks ready to glide off. It's in the natural operation of the controls and in the minimum demands placed on the driver. The feeling can even be found in the masterly view from the driver's seat, over the long bonnet and front wings to the Spirit of Ecstasy and beyond.
Tony Gott, chairman and chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, says: "For nearly 100 years, Rolls-Royce has been the icon of motor engineering and design. The name has entered the language as the expression of perfection in a range of endeavors far beyond the motor industry.
"The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is, we believe, entirely in keeping with that long and illustrious heritage yet is totally contemporary in its design and technology. Its name evokes the personality of the inter-war Rolls-Royce Phantom I, II and III models, some of the best designed and finest engineered motor cars to bear the Rolls-Royce name.
"And it reflects timeless values of quality, distinction and authority, combining the best of the past with the best modern design, engineering and technology to re-interpret the role of Rolls-Royce in the 21st century."
January 10, 2003