Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe

In 2004, Rolls-Royce unveiled 100EX, a striking experimental drophead built to celebrate 100 years of arguably the most famous automotive brand in the world. Built without compromise, it encapsulated a century of elegance and engineering, and, in an instant, defined the future direction of the brand.

In its two world tours, 100EX garnered positive comments from customers and the media alike. Such was the strength of the reaction that, in the autumn of 2005, Rolls-Royce announced that a production version would be available by 2007. In the interim years, the team at Goodwood have worked tirelessly to turn the experimental car into a reality.

Its exterior lines echo the timeless styling of the great Rolls-Royce cars: a long bonnet, large-diameter wheels, short front and long rear overhangs and the quintessential dynamic line descending along its flanks. Inside, the design emphasizes the airy openness of top-down motoring, embracing the elements and creating a stunning, social environment.

The Phantom Drophead Coup has been carefully crafted to be aesthetically pleasing, yet practical too. Wood, leather, chrome and brushed steel have been used where most appropriate. Form and function have equal billing. The simplicity of the design belies a car built to provide years of effortless service.

The Phantom Drophead Coup offers owners an unparalleled convertible experience, combining compelling drivability with exceptional engineering, technology and design hand-crafted from the finest materials to an exceptional level of quality.

The profile of the Phantom Drophead Coup is fundamentally transformed from that of a conventional four-seat convertible by the inclusion of front coach doors. Evocative of the classic sports car profile, they add considerably to the easy entry and exit of rear passengers. Perhaps just as importantly, they also add significantly to the overall strength and stiffness of the body as they allow the construction of an uninterrupted A-pillar. Newly homologated for the Phantom Drophead Coup, these coach doors are unique to Rolls-Royce.

At the front sits a new, more rakish grille, giving the car a more casual air while retaining its classic looks. Finished in steel, the centre fins are polished while the surround is brushed to match the optional brushed steel bonnet and A-pillar. The grille is hinged at the top in order to give way in the event of a low-speed impact. On top sits the Spirit of Ecstasy, remodeled using advanced computer software. These days she has a more lifelike appearance, with clear definition of her features. Finished in stainless steel, the Spirit of Ecstasy is also available in silver or gold via the Bespoke programme at Goodwood.

The front end of the Phantom Drophead Coup is more streamlined than that of previous Rolls-Royce cars. Slim front LED side lights sit above larger round driving lamps. The front bumper is integrated into the design, further softening the look. A discreet camera nestles underneath the numberplate to provide an excellent split-screen view of the road ahead, via the on-board monitor, to help when parking or when pulling out of a side road.

The Phantom Drophead Coup has been designed as a car in which to enjoy the elements. The all-weather surfaces of the interior have been designed to take what nature can throw at them. We didnt want owners to feel as if they had to pull over at the first spot of rain, says Cameron. To this end, a number of notable features can be seen throughout the interior. Firstly, the seats have no ridges in them, giving a smooth surface so that moisture can be wiped straight off. In place of traditional floor mats, wholly more practical sisal mats are used. Even the carpet itself employs 21st century materials designed to deal with the moisture and humidity encountered in many areas of the world.

The front seats are slimmer than the Phantoms but still offer an uncompromised degree of comfort. Integrated seatbelts are mounted directly onto them, while active head restraints and seat squab airbags give further protection to the torso and head. The driving position is set deliberately high to give a commanding view of the road over the long bonnet, and the curved rear lounge seats offer an intimate, social environment for passengers. Rear legroom is excellent and marks the car out as a true four-seater.

Ample power is supplied by a 6.75-litre, naturally aspirated, V12 engine. Developing 453 bhp / 338 kW and 720 Nm / 531 lb ft of torque at 3500 rpm, delivery is smooth and abundant. Furthermore, with 75 per cent of engine power available at just 1000 rpm, progress from a standstill is easy and remains so throughout the rev range. The highly efficient unit uses direct injection and variable valve timing. The engine is mated to a six-speed ZF automatic shift-by-wire gearbox.

The powerful V12 will accelerate the Phantom Drophead Coup to 60 mph in under six seconds and on to a limited top speed of 149 mph / 240 km/h. It stops in equally impressive fashion, using 374 mm / 14.7 in ventilated disc brakes at the front and 370 mm / 14.5 in at the rear. Twin piston alloy calipers at the front and single piston calipers at the rear bring the large-diameter wheels to rest. The braking system incorporates the latest four-channel anti-lock system. Emergency Brake Assist steps in under heavy braking, immediately applying full force in an emergency. At rest, an electromechanical park brake can be applied via a button on the dashboard.

Craftsmanship is a hallmark of Rolls-Royce. From the traditional wood and leather workshop skills to the complex welding of the aluminium spaceframe, a 21st century Rolls-Royce is a blend of hand crafted expertise and high-tech materials and techniques.

With more than 350 man-hours invested in each car, not including the time taken to build the engine, nearly right is never acceptable. The maxim of company founder Sir Henry Royce still resonates around Goodwood today: Strive for perfection in everything you do. From day-to-day production cars to the often complex Bespoke requests, Rolls-Royce has a skilled team adept at meeting the challenges of crafting the finest cars for the most discerning customers.

Source: Rolls-Royce press

Gallery: Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe