TYPICAL, M’Lord. You wait ages for a new Rolls-Royce – and then two gracefully glide up at once!
At least that’s how I think the landed gentry version of the old joke about buses goes, but it is true; there really are two new Rolls-Royces which The Champion’s richer readers – and all of the rest of us, provided our numbers come up this Saturday – will want to know about, so it’s only right that you know which of them I’d spend my hard-earned inheritance on. It’s all useful consumer advice, honestly!
The first is from a small company in Silverstone, which has announced that it’s going to be taking 30 old Phantoms and Silver Clouds, restoring them and fitting them out with electric motors.
For £350,000 what you’re getting is a classic car from Lunaz that they say is future-proofed for a time when you’ll no longer be able to fill it up with petrol, and if its similar work on Jaguars and Bentleys is anything to go by, I’ve no doubt that the engineering will be top drawer.
I’m not so sure. I’ve driven electric classics before, and while swapping out, say, a Fiat 500’s engine with a zero emissions motor can turn it into something that’ll give hot hatches a run for their money at the lights, doing it to a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud feels like a bit like ripping the innards out of a Breitling Navitimer and dropping digital Casio tech in its place. Having been lucky enough to drive a Silver Cloud – oh, alright then, it was a Bentley S2 - I can confirm that its absolutely magnificent L-Series engine is a fundamental facet of its character.
It’s whisper-quiet, loaded to the brim with low-down torque and endlessly reliable if it’s looked – all the things you look for in an electric motor, funnily enough.
The fact that this V8 only went out of production this summer, considering it was introduced in 1959, shows that its makers loved it too.
In fact, if you’re thinking of spending this sort of money on a Rolls-Royce, I’d go for….a Rolls-Royce. The chaps down at Goodwood might have stuck with their BMW-derived V12s for the new Ghost but in the meantime they’ve been hard at work on something they call their “Formula for Serenity” – basically, they’ve stuffed any empty area they could find on the two-door coupé with 100kg of sound deadening material, but when they found the resulting silence to be weirdly disorientating, they then tuned all the components to have a particular resonant frequency, like you might with a piano.
To finish it all off, they’ve integrated 152 LEDs into the dashboard fascia, so that at night the trim twinkles like a starry night sky. You just don’t get that sort of attention-to-detail on the Skoda Superb.
So the Ghost is a hefty luxury car that’s been weighed down with sound deadening and impressive but needless new toys – so it’s a proper Rolls-Royce, then.
The only thing it hasn’t confirmed ahead of its official launch later this week is the price, but if you have to ask…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly