How bespoke can you go with a Rolls-Royce? Our recent Goodwood factory tour and multi-car test drive was squarely aimed at pushing the limits…
It’s been an iconic British brand for well over a century and it seems as though the marque’s ‘personal touch’ is as appealing to today’s buyers as it was to the Edwardians. But what goes on behind the scenes of Rolls-Royce and how far is this manufacturer actually willing to go when it comes to delivering their customers a truly bespoke motor? We went along to the manufacturer’s Goodwood factory last week to see what fine and fangled ideas they would be willing to see through.
The journey to Rolls-Royce’s new factory home provided the first spark of inspiration – could they colour match that lush green Chichester countryside on my visionary Ghost Series II model? And how about getting the oak veneers to look as intriguing and majestic as the hundred year-old trees that freckled the near-by fields? Apparently they have around 44,000 colours to bring to a pallet and some customer projects have required some 30 litres of paint so I had plenty of scope when it came to mimicking the hues of nature.
Upon entering the factory, it was also very clear that Rolls-Royce was a place of human artists rather than machines and robots. There is definitely something very romantic about this notion – in our ‘golden age’ of virtual meetings and convenience toys we often overlook the beauty of a person’s skill, toil and passion. Rolls-Royce instead harks back to an era when a customer really felt like a customer and buying was an experience whereby time and detail was relished. Indeed when you commission a car with this British luxury manufacturer, they are keen to produce a hand-crafted model which is uniquely sensory. Whatever materials visually excite you or prompt you to get tactile are probably replicable within your commission.
Engravings and badges for the seats can also be personalised so if you wanted Chinese symbols, an elephant or a guitar for example, these can all be incorporated into the bespoke design.
A nostalgic smell can also part of a sensory encounter and I was delighted to find that when inside the cabins of the Phantom, Wraith and Ghost Series II models they all had a beautifully woody aroma. Rolls-Royce worked hard to create this scent which was inspired by customer’s feedback. Classic Rolls-Royce models very much fill your nostrils with rich, exotic woods but modern day versions were starting to exude more of a plastic smell. Obviously this didn’t fit with the values of this luxury brand so a specialist from the food industry was brought in to re-create a smell which was reminiscent of Rolls-Royce’s heritage. They’ve certainly done a fine job of perfecting this.
The driving experience itself is rather different to anything else on the road today as well; and you’d expect that when you buy a car that costs as much as the average house. The Wraith model costs £235k and that’s before you add any extras. Serenity and comfort is immediately apparent but it’s the nimbleness that surprises. Its size and weight cocoons and screens out stresses rather than being an incumbent by-product of luxury. There you are in a bubble of sensory indulgence, a million miles away from the stresses of the office. Being so well assisted, you hardly need any grip on the steering wheel. Silently it glides along and you are carried with it, so little physical effort is required. Even in traffic, I should imagine you could zone out of the chaos and enjoy your ambient surroundings; there is little more your exclusive hotel could offer you the other end in terms of comfort – a bed perhaps and an opportunity to sleep. If this was the need of the moment however, you’d just get your chauffeur to pilot your Rolls to the next destination.
Talking of aiding rest, the lighting in the Rolls-Royce can be tempered to your liking too and any kind of equipment you can imagine is highly likely to be sourced for you. Rolls-Royce is used to weird and wonderful requests and they thrive on this challenge!
The people of Rolls-Royce are very much geared towards creativity and stimulating emotion; the factory itself is very open with all the manufacturing lines on view. Pride is very much worn on the faces of all employees and their involvement and impact as a team-player appears to be highly valued. This working atmosphere I feel has a very positive impact on the products themselves as the feel-good vibe carries over into the care and detail they apply to their creations. There are sometimes sixty hands on deck (or on any given motor as the case may be) which means that comradery is key. The very process of being crafted by human hands is something of a treasure when set against the backdrop of a world that has increasingly become pre-packaged!
If you have an idea that you would like Rolls-Royce to put their hands to then why not go along to the manufacturer’s open event at the Saatchi gallery in London this week?The ‘Inside Rolls-Royce’ event takes place between Thursday 13th November and Sunday 16th November and runs from 10am until 6pm. Potential customers are encouraged to come along with any theme or dream which will be virtually brought to life using Rolls-Royce’s state of the art technology.
If you can’t get along to the Saatchi Gallery this week then you may want to download the new app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play. To be kept informed about bespoke Rolls-Royce events and news go to: insiderolls-royce.com.