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Thread: An antidote to the "routinization of affluence"

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    An antidote to the "routinization of affluence"

    An antidote to the "routinization of affluence"
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    It's an entirely reasonable question: What makes a $350,000 car worth three times a $100,000 car -- other than the price tag, of course?

    After all, we live at a time when formerly exotic, fancy car-only amenities such as heated leather seats and multi-zoned climate control air conditioning have become commonplace staples of the minivan and family car market. Sixty thousand dollar SUVs with 300 horsepower engines and DVD entertainment systems are fixtures of modern suburbia. Even a V-12 engine is no longer the sole province of the ultra-elite motor car.

    The bar has been raised considerably.

    How to stand apart from the lowing masses when five figure cars now offer the things one used to find only in six figure cars -- if then?

    This "routinization of affluence" has affected all high-end carmakers, but it's a particular challenge for those at the very top of the automotive food chain, such as Rolls Royce.


    Formerly a world until itself, in recent years, the brand once synonymous with virtually hand-built automobiles that were more than a cut above has had to contend with the unprecedented gentrification of the common car. And more dauntingly, the mass production of the formerly exclusive.

    Rolls has also had to contend with an unprecedented demographic shift among its buyer base. The Baby Boomer generation is gradually supplanting the traditional purchaser in the ultra-luxury segment -- as everywhere else -- and this new kind of buyer expects excitement and athleticism as much as exclusivity and no-compromises comfort. The company's massive Phantom sedan embodies the company tradition of genteel Old World elegance and presence -- but for the younger set, who pine for two fewer doors and a bit more verve, it's a case of trying to sell an older man's car to a younger man.

    And that simply won't do.

    This was the nature of the challenge facing Rolls managers as they contemplated the future -- and what would ultimately be the first new Rolls Royce motor car since the 2003 launch of the Phantom.

    The task of conceptualizing the next generation Rolls fell to a team headed by Exterior Stylist Marek Djordjevic and Chief Designer Ian Cameron.

    And what they eventually came up with was twins -- a matched set of low-slung two-door "sport models." One (the 100EX) a four-place convertible; the other a seductive hardtop coupe called the 101EX -- with the "EX" being short for "experimental," as Rolls oftens refers to its design studies and concepts. (Rolls says its "Experimental" cars are closer to production-ready than the typical concept car, which may just be a shell without a functioning drivetrain, etc.)

    The introduction of the twins was timed to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars -- while their "EX" designations reflect a continuity stretching back to the 1919 1EX, the very first Rolls "experimental" model. That car was based on the Silver Ghost, perhaps one of the best-ever names an automaker has bestowed upon an automobile. (For motorcycles, it would have to be Vincent Black Shadow).

    So far, neither the coupe nor the convertible have been named (though the coupe has been referred to several times as the new Corniche by company executives). But both are highly likely to see production -- and to receive names worthy of themselves (and of Rolls Royce).

    Both the 100EX and the 101EX are based, to an extent, on the existing Phantom's underlying structure -- its "platform," in auto industry jargon. But each is considerably shorter (by 6.5 inches) as well as lowered (by nearly 3 inches) relative to the Phantom.

    A "fast" windshield with a steep rake combine with a lowered roofline and "boat-tail" rear treatment -- and though the company doesn't make the association, the overall effect is to recall in the mind's eye coach-built classics of the art deco era of the 1920s and '30s such as the Deusenberg SJ, Auburn speedster and Delahaye Type 15M. Billet aluminum for the windshield bracing extends to the hood, another dramatic styling departure from the more formal and upright posture of the Phantom -- while enormous 21-inch billet aluminum wheels are snugged into the wheelwells. Exhaust tips anddoor handles are likewise hewn from single ingots of billet alumunim.

    An illuminated glass version of the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy "flying lady" hood ornament caps things off as the piece de resistance.

    All that's missing is Clark Gable behind the wheel.

    "We intended to use the silhouette to express the performance potential, yet reflect the effortless composure typical of Rolls-Royce design rather than the aggressive, forward-wedged stance of most modern performance cars," explains exterior stylist Djordjevic.

    Thus while the 100EX and its hardtop sister car remain very large and imposing cars -- each with a gross weight of nearly 6,000 pounds, comparable to the weight of a full-size SUV -- they exude the coiled menace of a heavyweight boxer in a form-fitted Armani suit. The electronically governed 150-mph top speed (vs. a more pedestrian 130 for the Phantom) is further evidence of the different missions envisioned for these new breed Rolls-Royces.

    Of course, "waftability" remains, as ever, a paramount consideration.

    Coined in 1907 by an automotive writer attempting to convey the effortless power delivery of Rolls-Royce he had test-driven, the term quickly became part of the official company vernacular -- and more than that, an egineering guideline as to how a Rolls-Royce ought to behave. To that end, both the forthcoming convertible and the still-not-official coupe are propelled by a 6.75 liter, direct-injection V-12 engine developing the tremendous output of 450 horsepower and 531 lbs.-ft. of torque, two-thirds of which is available at very low engine speeds (1,000 rpm). This provides the sort of "hand of god" forward thrust -- 0-60 in just over 5 seconds -- that is the signature driving attribute of a Rolls-Royce motor car.

    Though production examples will be built to order -- including the customer's choice of exterior and interior colors -- the show-car version of the 100EX is trimmed with hand-fitted bleached teak decking along with the extensive use of polished aluminum for both exterior and interior trim. This theme reflects exterior stylist Djordjevic's goal of imbuing the car with the ambiance of "an elegant motor yacht at speed." The convertible's two-tone exterior is finished in Dark Curzon, with Meteor Silver accents --including hand-polished 21 inch wheels.

    For the 101EX coupe, a different palette was selected -- Dark Tungsten, with smoke Grey leather for the interior set off with navy blue accents, red oak and rosewood hand-fitted trim panels. Designer Alan Sheppard is the man responsible for the overall layout.

    As in the convertible, the coupe's doors are hinged at the rear -- and open automatically at the touch of a button. This was done to provide better access to the cavernous interior -- and so that occupants would not have to "fall into" the car, in the manner of less dignified mass-produced vehicles -- while the "curved sofa" rear seat is "intimate for two, yet superbly comfortable on longer journeys." And of course, there are monogrammed "RR" umbrellas in the boot.

    But the defining feature of the 101EX is its stunning planetarium-themed interior headliner -- which is fitted with countless fiber optic pinpoints for a "starlight effect" in the evening. A rheostat allows the ambient light to be adjusted from night-time sky to reading light levels. Just the ticket for gently wafting along to the destination of your choice, swaddled in the kind of luxury that's far from routine.

    Even today. And at any price.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: An antidote to the "routinization of affluence"

    To rewrite an old Rolls-Royce advertising slogan, 'at 60mph, all you can hear is the sound of Henry Royce spinning in his grave'!

    As if ugly wasn't bad enough, they have now gone for ugly plus tacky. Sadly, there are enough rich people in the world totally lacking in taste to make these things viable. >

  3. #3
    jillsuncle
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    Re: An antidote to the "routinization of affluence"


    1) Handmade automobiles do not have the excellent fit and finish of a Computer Aided Design car made in Mexico.
    2) The last time I checked Rolls had a 5.7 GM engine with better quality materials and the same is true for the Turbo Hydro slushbox - better raw materials.
    3) When I want someone to slaughter 350 minks for my carpet I'll buy a Rolls.
    4) The crew in Crewe are about broke.
    5) Please don't say anything negative about any Ferrari - Talk to the Hand! Sociopaths need their prancing horse.

  4. #4
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    Re: An antidote to the "routinization of affluence"

    Quote Originally Posted by jillsuncle
    4) The crew in Crewe are about broke.
    Crewe now has nothing to do with Rolls-Royce! While a factory owned by BMW somewhere in the south of England builds monstrosities with Rolls-Royce grilles, Crewe, under VW ownership, builds beautiful Bentleys.

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