The author attempts to explain his violently opposed reactions to the design of the 2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost and 2022 BMW 7 Series.
In a comment appended to a recent piece on DTW, a reader asked me to elaborate on why I thought that the Rolls-Royce Ghost works as a design, whereas the latest BMW 7 Series* simply doesn’t. It is a good question, and one I have been pondering. In what follows, I will attempt to explain my thoughts. As ever, I should begin with the caveat that, while there are well understood principles of good design, I have no formal training in that field. Hence, my observations are simply those of an enthusiastic amateur, no more or less valid than any others, so I am very happy to be challenged on anything that follows.
Concluding our recollection of the cars that sealed Bentley’s renaissance.
Such was the demand for the new Continental R that Car Magazine would not get to road test it until January 1992, and then it was still a prototype rather than a production car that was supplied for the test. Reviewer Richard Bremner noted that the car, although roomy and beautifully trimmed, was a strict four-seater, with individual rear seats separated by a large centre console that bisected the cabin. Bremner bemoaned the lack of ventilation or seat adjustment for rear seat passengers. Front seat occupants had no such complaints, however, and sat in great luxury(1).
The 1991 Continental R Coupé was the first unique Bentley for over a quarter of a century.
The debut in 1965 of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was a seminal event in the company’s long and occasionally turbulent history. With its unitary construction, it brought Rolls-Royce into the modern age. Its longevity and enduring sales success carried the company through some pretty lean times.
The Silver Shadow also caused the near extinction of the Bentley marque. The absence of a separate chassis on which distinctive coachbuilt models could readily be created reduced Bentley to a badge-engineered version of the Silver Shadow, dubbed T-Series and distinguished only by a different radiator grille. Over a fifteen-year production run, only 2,280 (7%) from a total of 32,337 cars produced carried the Bentley name.
DTW has quite the history concerning car ashtrays; an entire section devoted to nothing but covered in great detail by Richard Herriott. Fascinating regarding detail and engineering, smoking and driving were once considered under a more roseate light. Concurrently, the modern day car’s lighter socket can sometimes be found empowering the tobacco smokers alternative, the vaping machine. However, for the (extremely) well heeled, Rolls-Royce can offer a real world experience, if not, perhaps within the confines of the plush cabin then a geste, al fresco.
Recently released to those whose world revolves around the Spirit of Ecstasy, one can have fitted in one’s boot space the Cellarette – a bespoke whisky and cigar chest. Historically, the Cellarette was used to store bottles of your master’s favourite tipple in something other than a wicker basket within the confines of the motor carriage. Whether stopping to Continue reading “Have A Cigar”
The 1975 Camargue proved conclusively that more is not necessarily better.
The rules of automotive design that apply to Rolls-Royce motor cars are quite different to those that apply to other, less rarefied marques. Because of their low production volumes and the longevity of their model cycles, they eschewed the fashionable and ephemeral in favour of timeless elegance, understatement and peerless quality. The 1965 Silver Shadow exemplified these qualities perfectly, and Rolls-Royce was rewarded by it becoming the company’s best-selling model in history.
With summer now officially over, and perhaps more in the spirit of hope than confidence, OEM carmakers are gradually returning to the business of product. This week amid the sudden outpouring of new announcements, previously squeezed and distorted through the narrow pipette of PR drip-feed, we are presented with two super-luxury land-yachts from differing echelons of wealth, privilege and position. Let us first Continue reading “Sense and Sensuality”
The mid-1960’s were exciting times for Rolls-Royce. As development of the Silver Shadow progressed, the company shared the blueprints and specifications for its new saloon model with Mulliner Park Ward. The London based coachbuilder had a long history of producing bespoke models on Rolls-Royce chassis. Now that Rolls-Royce was moving to unitary construction, this would no longer be so straightforward, but Mulliner was keen to continue its traditional business. A plan was agreed whereby the coachbuilder would Continue reading “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times”
As with most endeavours, even Italian post-war coachbuilding, there is no failsafe recipe for success. Particularly when illustrious British marques are involved.
From today’s perspective, it’s all too easy to get misty-eyed when recalling rather more halcyon periods in the evolution of the bespoke luxury automobile. For today’s coachbuilt cars seem to offer rather less grace than the standard vehicles they are based upon, thus underlining that rarity is no quality in itself. Yet even in the autumn days of traditional coachbuilding, when the arrival of the monocoque body had already spelled the end of the industry as it had existed in its heyday, not every sheetmetal change was for the better.
Not even in the case of Pininfarina, whose reputation surely requires no further elaboration here. The Hanson Pininfarina-bodied Bentley T1 coupé, unveiled in 1968, should have been a delightful cocktail of Anglo-Saxon formal and Italianate casual elegance. Clearly, the intention behind its appearance was to Continue reading “Coach Class”
Forty years since the launch of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit and its siblings; time to reassess the marque’s least loved car.
The late 1970’s was a challenging time for Rolls-Royce Motors. The company had been floated off in 1973 at the insistence of the British Government which, two years earlier, had rescued its parent company, the eponymous aero engine manufacturer, from bankruptcy and wanted it now to Continue reading “Acceptable in the 80’s”
Our Sheffield correspondent encounters a Cullinan.
Sheffield is a city synonymous for not only making but also the shaping of steel. Construction and heavy industry to more specific, not to mention artisanal variations such as myriad uses in the cutlery, aero and medical fields. Some of that steel ends up in the carmaking business. Sadly, some too resides within men’s hearts.
The site of our local retail park was once Fox steel works of Stocksbridge, providing employment for the whole town at one point, making the steel and wire for umbrellas. When the 1980s recession hit, the steel ceased flowing and a dilapidated site remained for years. That is until the supermarkets began to take over land purchases from house builders, before even those plans went west. This left a cleared area but nothing to build. Until Mark Dransfield and his property investment business arrived to Continue reading “The Beast”
“Black Badge is for those who reject conformity and live life on their own terms. It’s for the innovators, trailblazers, rulebreakers – and above all – those who dare.” Rolls Royce Motors.
The highly decorated former British soldier, subsequent historian and writer, Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb published his noted essay, The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival in 1978. Having spent over forty years in the British army observing England’s Glorious Empire wither into insignificance, he was probably well placed to Continue reading “Fate of Empires”
We profile a local lad who ‘done good’ – both for himself and the industry he served.
Tom Purves spent forty three years within the car industry; roughly half each for Rolls Royce and BMW, thus, in essence for a German carmaker. From his apprentice years though to management at Crewe, rising to become CEO and Head of the entire American division for BMW from the mid ‘80’s to concluding his career at the very top of Goodwood’s silently slick factory.
Proudly Scottish with twangs of American vernacular; through interviews made nearly twenty years ago, some just before his retirement in 2010, Mr Purves informs us of a world changed beyond recognition. Spoiler alert: there are no mentions of SUV’s. Continue reading “Full Circle”
Two years and one month isn’t a long time by the standards of the automotive industry. Creating a car from scratch within such a period of time would be extremely difficult. Truly changing a marque’s design ethos would be utterly impossible.
Driven to Write profiles the black sheep of Crewe.
Even the most aristocratic families have their outcasts. Whether it’s cousin Geoffrey the bounder, serial adulterer and spendthrift, or aunt Gertrude with the secret laudanum habit, a noble bloodline is no barometer of respectability.
This is as much a truism at the House of Crewe as anywhere else, and while the halls of Pyms Lane may shimmer with any number of Wriaths, Clouds, Shadows or Spirits, within a secluded chamber in a little-visited wing of the facility lies the Seraph, brooding in gloomy seclusion. Continue reading “Wings of Desire”
Quite possibly the most exciting aspect of today’s post is this rather splendid photo. The rest of it is about product semantics.
After having considered why is difficult to understand the visual (it’s about cognition), the next tricky thing is to understand design as compromise (all design is failure). And the next level of complexity deals with understanding that even geometrically exquisite lines are open to interpretation. That means semantics or the meaning of the thing or the meaning of the parts of things. If you think you somehow Continue reading “Manchester, patronage of tanning salons in (1983-1987)”
Rolls-Royce has lost its design director, just weeks after launching its new Cullinan crossover. Coincidence?
It wasn’t earth shattering news, even if it was somewhat surprising. The most striking thing about it perhaps was its timing. But even allowing for that, the news that Giles Taylor abruptly resigned his design leadership position at Goodwood within weeks of a major new product announcement might not even have been particularly noteworthy, but for a number of rather more compelling aspects.
The first of course is difficult to miss. Indeed, some have suggested Cullinan can be seen from space, where we’re reliably informed, nobody can hear you scream. The vulgar monstrosity RR has unleashed upon the world in the form of this ‘high-sided vehicle’ has precipitated a high percentage of commentators, both of the professional and armchair variety giving Rolls-Royce a well-deserved critical lashing.
Every story needs an origin fable. Today, we look to a time before the light, when darkness cloaked the earth and the ground trembled beneath the wheels of the Dominator.
In the beginning the Lord created Cayenne. And the Lord saw that it was good, and he blessed it and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it”, and it was so. And lo, as the profits had foreseen, Cayenne begat Bentayga who begat Urus, who begat Cullinan. And the Lord looked upon his works, and he was pleased.
On the seventh day, the Lord was tired, and he thought; “a little nap wouldn’t kill me” And so, the Lord slept but while he slumbered, the confounded things proliferated like the seven plagues, so when the Lord awoke, he was greatly vexed and rent his garment. And the Lord wailed, “what have I done?”
Rolls Royce’s Cullinan SUV has landed. Is this the price of luxury?
In 1971, the unthinkable occurred. The once impregnable Rolls Royce entered receivership, owing to costs incurred developing the RB211 turbojet engine programme. Many viewed it as a watershed – after all, if RR could go under, who was safe? In the years that followed, Rolls Royce Motors stayed afloat, if only by the skin of their teeth. By the time Vickers bailed in 1988, it was clear the Silver Lady had lost more than her spirit.
Today, there are no such dangers. Not only is Rolls Royce well-funded and protected within the BMW mothership, but the market for ultra-luxury vehicles has never Continue reading “Iceberg Right Ahead”
Defining luxury in an age of conspicuous consumption isn’t easy. Judging by two concepts encapsulating futuristic decadence, this task will not become any less challenging in the years to come.
The fight for luxury supremacy of the future officially started in March 2018, at the Geneva International Motor Show. There, Aston Martin chief designer – pardon: Vice President & Chief Creative Officer – Marek Reichman openly criticised the traditional purveyors of automotive luxury, namely Crewe’s Bentley and Goodwood’s Rolls-Royce, of pandering to an obsolete definition of top-end motoring.
Rolls-Royce revealed a custom-made car, the Sweptail, at Villa d’Este. What does DTW think?
The Sweptail draws inspiration from a 1925 car called the Phantom Round Door and takes a little from the Phantom II and has some Park Ward features (say, the 20/25 Limousine Coupé). I see a little 1971 Buick Riviera in the shape of the glasshouse but perhaps that car was also drawing on Rolls-Royce influences. Continue reading “Pomegranate Luncheon and the Landgrave”
DTW’s correspondent visits a museum and finds his perception challenged.
Before I start on any negatives and disappointments let me make it clear that the Louwman Museum at Den Haag in the Netherlands is one of the best car museums in the World, possibly the best. Obviously that opinion is subjective and so is the collection, generally the choice of one family. For instance if you’re looking for BMWs, a single pre-war 328 represents many people’s favoured marque, but at least one DTW contributor would be pleased to find three Lloyd cars on show. The collection tapers out as we get later into the last century and production cars of the 21st Century are illustrated by just a cutaway Prius. But in terms of giving a general overview of the earlier history of the motor car, one that entertains, intrigues and informs by mixing in a good amount of both the quirky and the outstanding, it would be very hard to Continue reading “Louwman Museum I : A Prince In Exile”
Here is a Silver Shadow with the glass compartment divider.
This car has caused me to reflect on the “shoebox” theme of many 60s cars. The gross form is very simple. All the interest is in the proportions and the detailing. In the middle is the medium level of the design where little deviates from the engineering minimum of large boxes for the engine, passenger cell and the boot. Rolls Royce could rely on opulent materials and lustrous finish to carry the argument that this could be called the world’s best car. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: Rolls Royce Silver Shadow”
Romance leads to all sorts of things. Before the divorce comes the wedding. And that means a car to get the bride to the registry office. In the United Kingdom that probably means a Rolls-Royce in purest white.
The white Rolls-Royce is desirable in the role of wedding car and uttely undesirable in any other role. Without looking up actual statistics, I’d guess a white Roller is worth less than any other colour apart from pink. It’s funny how people Continue reading “Theme: Romance – Wedding Cars”
We have considered various ways to save money on cars. Now what about when the budget is so big you can see it from space?
This is the 2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion, designed and made to order by Pininfarina. It turned up for sale in the Middle East in 2012 and may have been sold for about six million dollars. The person who commissioned it, a Briton, presumably had a lot of say in how it looked. Continue reading “Theme: Economy – When Money Is No Object”
This is the only car in this series still in production. Why might that be?
Well, progress at this level is slow. Or maybe you believe Rolls Royce who say customers don’t want change to be too frequent. When the coachwork was revised in 2012 R-R said: “Our customers don’t want a new car coming to market too often,” said Richard Carter , Rolls-Royce’s communications director. Or rather, after stumping up more than a third of a million pounds, they don’t want their cars looking out of date when the Mark II version is launched” (wrote the Telegraph in 2012). A quarter of a million pounds sterling. Almost six metres long. So tall you can’t Continue reading “Looking back: 2003 Rolls Royce Phantom”
It’s always the way. You wait ages, then two incidences of Citroën SM’s tail lamp units crop up on the same week – on two vastly different cars.
Firstly (as we saw earlier) on Maserati’s 1976 Kyalami, and now here on Frua’s 1977 Rolls Royce Phantom VI Drophead. Of course the common strand here is Frua themselves who plainly had a job lot of SM lens units knocking about. Regardless of the merits (or otherwise) of this vast open tourer’s aesthetics, it’s interesting to see how adaptable a humble lens unit such as this can be. I can’t help feeling I’ve seen the SM tail lamp elsewhere. Any thoughts? Continue reading “Rooting in the Parts Bins – Again…”
Slow, incremental change could be said to represent one of the hallmarks of the Rolls Royce marque. Something similar could be said of its engine.
The L410 V8 engine was born in the early 50s with the role of powering Bentleys and Rolls-Royce cars. From the 50s to 1998 the engine found homes in cars of both brands. After BMW acquired Rolls-Royce (the name and nothing else), the engine then became the sole preserve of Bentley where it is still in use, very highly modified, in the Mulsanne.
I’ve previously mentioned my fickleness regarding cars. In the morning I fancy a luxury barge, by the afternoon I want a beach buggy. Here is something that fills both criteria, a hunting car built for the King of Morocco by the ever resourceful Sbarro.
It’s a slow day in the news department when the unveiling of a new name counts as reportable material. But the name in question is “Dawn”.
That’s not a new staff member at Rolls Royce but the name of their forthcoming drophead. This is what Rolls-Royce had to say: ‘Dawn’ perfectly expresses the character of the new Rolls-Royce. In its tentative, inchoate, anticipatory state, dawn is the world coming to light from the ethereal dark of the night. The early-day chill of dawn provides an erotic tingle on the skin, awakening the senses and passions as the day begins.
A recent announcement by Aston Martin that it will go off road soon confirms that the ranks of aristo SUV’s are now filled, just about. Anything is now possible.
The Cadillac Escalade arrived first in 1999, an SUV from a marque known for limousines and stately sedans. Because Cadillac’s brand value lay in the ditch by then, nobody minded much: more kitsch, they said. However, it was an inspirational move from a brand that has often – though unintentionally – led the way. Lincoln dressed up a Ford pick-up to make it into the Blackwood in 2001 and got a three year run before really piling on the trim for the 2005 Mark LT. Continue reading “They’re All At It Now (nearly)”
This year Rolls Royce is showcasing the things it is willing to do to its cars for its wealthier customers. A one-off car, the Serenity, will be shown at Geneva this year to this end.
The aqua leather and wooden accents work very well indeed. It might even be that the silk used extensively is fetching. I remain unconvinced by the Kimona-esque detailing in the roof that looks like a strange blood spatter rather than a delicate tree in blossom.
You can read Rolls Royce’s more generous description here:
I’ve asked myself if I can think of a large car that is ‘cute’ and, at present, can only think of one, but perhaps that is because this particular vehicle will always have a dominant place in my memories. In the late Seventies, I filled in for the European Motoring Correspondent on Soldier Of Fortune magazine when he was unavoidably detained for several months by the German security services. Apart from it being the introduction to my beloved Alvis Stalwart, when I tested one for the ‘Used and Bruised’ feature, that time also has more tender memories for me.