Rolls-Royce Opens Its Doors
Ghost Series II Is Unveiled
Nestled deep in the West Sussex countryside is the home of one of the greatest and most iconic British car manufacturers. Enormous gates open onto a sweeping driveway that leads up to a vast glass building. The name on the front of it? Rolls-Royce.
Designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, who has a portfolio which includes the Eden Project in Cornwall and Waterloo International Station, it sits just below ground level with a flat grass roof, cedar wood cladding all beautifully designed to be in keeping with the local landscape.
Over 1,400 workers apply their skills in an environment that is relaxed, airy and bathed in light. In the manufacturing plant, you almost forget you’re in an area where cars are being built and due to the lack of clattering metallic machinery, you can almost hear a pin drop at times.
Three models of Rolls-Royce are built there, the Phantom, the recently launched Wraith and now the Ghost Series II.
The latter was launched simultaneously at the Rolls-Royce headquarters and in Switzerland where the Geneva Motor Show was taking place. The Ghost first came onto the scene in 2009 and now has been updated for 2014 with visual changes to the front end including LED lights, vapour trail lines that now sweep across the bonnet, the Rolls-Royce monogram has been raised on the side of the car and the choice of interior colours has been increased. Their famous ‘waft line‘ down the side of the car has also been re-designed.
The touches they have made to the Series II are very subtle, however as founder Sir Henry Royce pointed out, ‘Take the best that exists and make it better.’ That is exactly what they have done.
I have driven and been around thousands of cars but you can’t help but be blown away by the level of craftmanship and attention to detail when you get up close to a Rolls-Royce for the first time. Have you ever sat in a car with Californian lambs wool floor mats?
Cars don’t run off the production line in their droves, as you might see at the Nissan plant in Sunderland, at Goodwood Rolls-Royce coax them off the production line. Rolls-Royce are quite rightly on a different level when it comes to excellence and so all cars are made to order.
Sixty pairs of hands will spend over 450 hours rolling the car out from it’s initial shell to handing the keys over to the owner. Every Rolls-Royce is made by hand, there are no robots at Goodwood, which is why it can take a few months to produce a Phantom. Or nearly over a year depending on how bespoke the order is.
You won’t be stuck for colour; there are over 44,000 different choices! If you fancy it to match your favourite lipstick, or even the colour of your pet pooch (and yes it has been done) then any request, however strange, can be catered for. 100 Ilbs (45 kilos) of paint is used to cover the car through multiple coats and lacquer all finished off by a five hour hand polish to make sure it’s gleaming.
The assembly line has 22 different stations where each car is at each one for around 75 minutes. During the process of manufacture over seventy hugely skilled people will have worked on the car. It really is a joy to watch.
How about seeing stars? The interior roof can even be customised with star light, well 1,340 fibre optics to be exact, over 1,600 if you buy the Phantom. A technician will stitch them in by hand in a job that will take two days. Stunning.
Once the finished car is ready you sit in a Rolls-Royce with the comfort and softness of the leather interior. A car will require the hide of between five and eleven bulls, not cows as they have stretch marks, that are sourced from over 1500 metres high up in the mountains as there is no fencing for them to get scars from, nor mosquitos. 450 separate pieces of leather are cut out using computer guided scalpels and just like the paint is available in a multitude of colours. In total, seventeen days is needed for the leather interior to be completed.
The wood shop has all the veneer for the interior of the car. Rare walnut burr, beech and birds eye maple are all sourced from all over Europe, with pieces meticulously matched so they all mirror each other in the car. The synergy of the natural woods against the contemporary engineering will never go out of fashion.
A Rolls-Royce maybe out of your budget but you too can go along and visit the headquarters of the world’s most famous car in return for a donation to a charity they support. Further information can be found at: http://www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com