Rolling, Rolling, Rolling, Soft Hide
What do you get when you cross the most sublime driving experience with the best sailing materials?
Regardless of what actually occurs there, the back of a Rolls-Royce Phantom has always been a sublime environment. From those deep, loving seats you could watch the world silently pass by, cocooned by double-glazed windows. I’ve been there, many many times. But I had always wondered what would it be like to drive one myself? Would I be safe behind the wheel? Would I still be able to speed down Pall Mall, read the paper and dodge most of the cyclists? What would I do when I needed both hands free to throw things at pedestrians?
It turns out that Rolls Royce have made a model for such a scenario, the Drophead Coupe. At nearly six meters long and two meters wide this two door compact(ish) convertible seems, well, perfect. The car feels familiar and the build, the specification and the finish is exactly what I would expect emerging from the vapours of the Silver Spirit. I recognised the cars teak decking, I have the same finish on my racing yacht the only other machine I’m happy to operate myself.
I jump into the driver’s seat, a button bringing the reversed suicide doors flying shut and I’m ready to go. The dashboard, featuring BMWs iDrive and keycard system, surrounds me and with the push of a button, the 7 litre V12 quietly starts. The column shift gives me only two options, reverse and drive. There’ll be no shifting gears manually in this car, but the steering wheel offers up a sports mode. Thank you, crazy German engineers.
The Drophead Coup is fast – unfathomably so. You can hit 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds incredible for a car weighing more than two McLaren F1s. The rate of acceleration is matched by the rate at which the car can burn through petrol. Wait LUSSO reader! I’m not being cheap. I’m certainly not concerned about the financial cost of petrol, nor am I concerned about the environmental cost, either. It was Benjamin Franklin who once said time is money, so here I am, filling up the Drophead Coupe for the fourth time this weekend, trying not to fixate on all the worthwhile things I could be doing instead of pumping 80 litres of petrol into the tanks.
Reflecting back on the journey, I don’t recall the monotony of the motorway, the cars in every lane who struggled to get out of my path fast enough. Instead, I remember how much fun it was to have the roof down and the heated seats happily warming my glutes. I remember how entertaining it was to see the passengers in the back try not to cry as they sat there getting pelted by the cold air that was so gracefully avoiding me in the front seat. The stereo was more than capable of drowning out everything and I remember putting the roof and windows back up, and thinking this car is now as quiet, as comfortable and as graceful as the Phantom.
Whatever road or journey you’re on, whatever the weather’s like and whoever you’re with, there’s a way this car can entertain you. I read someone responding to the £307,500 price tag with, “that’s more than my house!”. True, but his house isn’t built as well, his house isn’t furnished as well and his house is considerably slower.