Can Rolls-Royce convert even the wealthiest aristocrats to the joy of wind-­in-the-hair motoring? We exclusively reveal that, yes, it can, with these spy-shots of the ultimate luxury soft-top, more than a year ahead of its official unve

Topless ecstacy

Can Rolls-Royce convert even the wealthiest aristocrats to the joy of wind-­in-the-hair motoring? We exclusively reveal that, yes, it can, with these spy-shots of the ultimate luxury soft-top, more than a year ahead of its official unveiling.

Forget Bentley's brand new Azure... if you want the most exclusive drop­top money can buy, look no further. Rolls-Royce announced just over a year ago that it would put a convertible into production, and here is the car fully undisguised on one of its first outing in public. And our spy managed to record the momentous trip on chip.

Closely resembling the 2004 Geneva Motor Show 100EX concept, the virtu­ally showroom-ready version in our pictures is a stunner. Models rolling off the firm's production line in Goodwood, West Sussex, U.K., are expected to have simi­lar headlights to the Phantom saloon, but other details are ready for the sales floor. All that's missing is the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot which will sit on top of the enormous chrome grille. Incredibly, the show car's reverse-opening front doors have been carried over. While many models – including the Phantom – feature similar 'suicide doors' at the rear, the convertible will be the only pro­duction car to have them at the front.

Based on the same platform as the Phantom and built using similar alu­minium spaceframe chassis techno­logy, the newcomer isn't as long as the saloon. The beautifully crafted cabin has room for four. Much of the switchgear will be carried over from the Phantom, but the convertible will need an extra button to trigger the electric folding fabric roof.

There's been no official announce­ment about what the production version of the Roller – l currently codenamed the RR02 – will be called. The favourite badge among the decision-makers is thought to be Corniche, but the final judgement will be made next year. All drop-top models will be powered by the same 6.75-Iitre V12 powerplant as the Phantom, and prices are unlikely to undercut the EUR 350,000 saloon's. As with its stablemate, the drop­top will be offered with the manufac­turer's Bespoke Program, which lets customers tailor virtually any aspect of the finish to their own taste - for a price.

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