Yet again the automotive theme continues.
About three and a half years ago I took to task the whole idea of Rolls Royce, and the vulgarity of the modern ones, by which I mean just about anything after 1960. After that we had to suffer the indignity of being subjected to, among others, the Corniche, which was so big and ugly that it looked as if a load of first year automotive design students had been let loose on a Scania truck chassis. And it was vulgar.
The current Shadow is vulgar because it will set you back at least 347 gees, and that’s before you start adding anything. The coupe sets off at a whopping 374 grand. If you don’t think that’s a vulgar amount to spend on a set of wheels, you may want to think about your life values.
Some market analyst at RR worked out that the average Shadow buyer is in his/her mid 50s, and the demographic was ageing. The obvious thing to do is design a car that appeals to the younger yet still ‘discerning’ customer. The average for the Wraith is 45. How the hell you get the requisite £241,000 at that age is beyond me. You’ve ripped somebody off royally somehow somewhere.
There was a whole documentary about how they build the Wraith, and it was interesting and demoralising in about equal measure. First off, it required an all new £60m production facility down in Goodwood. Not a production line. Nothing as vulgar as robots. The amount of handcrafting that goes on is extraordinary, which is why these things don’t exactly fly out of the factory gates. They roll sedately through them after about four weeks of graft.
Don’t get me wrong. The workmanship is first class, the attention to detail marvellous. Nothing, but nothing, is allowed to be any less than perfect. But the end result is still vulgar.
The hides of 17 cows to upholster the interior? That’s vulgar. Mirror matching the veneering either side of the car? Neat, but unnecessary, and vulgar. The doors that open and close electrically at the flick of a switch so the passengers don’t have to actually use a door handle? Pretty vulgar. And as for the idea of fibre optics in the rooflining (you’ll pay nearly 10 grand more for this option) to represent stars, so when you’re driving at night it’s like having the roof down? Especially as you can choose what constellations you want to see?. The Spirit of Ecstasy radiator ornament is really vulgar at the best of times, but when it retracts electrically when the engine is switched off (presumably so no hoodlum rips it off and lobs it through the double glazed windscreen), vulgarity hits a new high. Or low, depending on your viewpoint.
On the upside, they have a thriving apprenticeship scheme at Goodwood, about half the apprentices are female, and women are well represented in management positions. And there’s a bloke whose only job is handpainting the coachlines.
But the cars are still naff. Check out this two tone paintwork.