If NEMPA members summed the sticker prices of every car they test in a year, the total would easily surpass $1 million. In June, they drove a million’s worth of cars—just two—in a matter of hours. That’s not a normal work day for New England journalists. But for Rolls-Royce, for more than a century, extravagant vehicles are their business. And they’re very good at it.
NEMPA welcomed president Martin Fritsches of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America to Boston, where one of his company’s 37 U.S. dealers serves customers across New England. On hand were two exquisite examples of the Phantom sedan and the first Roll-Royce SUV, the Cullinan, along with communications director Gerry Spahn.
So far this year, Rolls-Royce dealers have sold 1600 cars from the English automaker’s five-model lineup of lavish 12-cylinder cars—the majority of them Dawn convertibles, Wraith coupes, and Ghost sedans. While every Rolls-Royce looks the part, the Phantom and Cullinan—built on the company’s brand-new Architecture of Luxury not shared with parent company BMW—deliver the ultimate experience. Buyers in a Ghost might have $2000 per month to spend on a lease. But a Phantom is an entirely different proposal. These buyers have the cash to spend an average of $550,000 on a specially-commissioned Rolls, which typically takes between three and four months to source every last material. The 700 Cullinan models delivered so far average $409,000.
“Now that the lineup is bigger, it gives you the chance to own more than one Rolls-Royce,” said Fritsches. “And it’s already happening.”
Smaller, sportier, and more affordable models like the Wraith coupe have broadened customer demographics from a base of 70-year-olds to a widening set of buyers in their 50s. Now, with the Cullinan, Fritches says Rolls-Royce is finally reaching people in their 40s. By people, he means those with a minimum net worth of $20 million.
The Cullinan is both Goodwood’s first SUV and its first model with all-wheel drive. An off-road mode tailors the air suspension height and other throttle settings to charge through the muck, though Spahn wasn’t suggesting we should try it. No one did, as the Cullinan on hand with its Darkest Tungsten paint, 22-inch wheels with self-centering hubcaps, and an illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament totaled $420,630. Everyone felt the steady, silent rush of the V-12, among the smoothest and most effortless engines in the world despite pushing three tons of steel. Two turbos, 563 horsepower, and 627 pound-feet of torque make it look easy. As for the acclaimed “Magic Carpet” ride, there is real engineering behind it.
“It’s 6000 pounds pushing down, with an air suspension calculating 2.5 million times per second,” said Spahn.
The same demanding effort goes into the tires.
“We make Continental send out truckloads, and send most of them back because they aren’t quiet enough,” he said.
Just sitting inside the Phantom and Cullinan explains why these two Rolls-Royce models are among the most coveted luxury cars in the industry. Even so, it’s critical that Rolls-Royce establishes a presence not only among its customers, but among the media who publicize the feats of these extraordinary machines. At NEMPA, we are thankful to build that lasting relationship with Rolls-Royce.