THE launch of the first Rolls-Royce Phantom in January 2003 gave the public a new insight into the future of ultra-luxury motoring.
It pretty much signalled the renaissance of arguably the world's most famous luxury brand and gave us the first glimpse of a masterpiece that established as the pinnacle of automotive excellence.
From launch, the Rolls-Royce Phantom proved itself a worthy recipient of the famous Spirit of Ecstasy figurine.
From Pantheon grille to long rear overhang, the design was clearly a Rolls-Royce.
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Today, the new Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II is available in a choice of styles that should cover the majority of their clientele's requirements. You can have a standard four-door saloon if you like, but the Alan Sugar types might like to know that there is also an extended wheel base version too.
At its heart, the new Phantom still has a hand-assembled, naturally aspirated 6.75-litre V12 engine. This sophisticated direct-injection petrol engine develops 453bhp, 720Nm ft of torque and moves occupants from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds onto an electronically limited top speed of 149mph (155mph for Phantom Coupé).
Rolls-Royce has improved the drive train of the Series II Phantom by incorporating a new 8-speed auto ZF-gearbox for all variants. This is electronically controlled to manage the extraordinary power delivered by the V12 power plant.
The longer ratio in the new rear differential compensates shorter ratios in some gears of the new 8-speed gearbox, maintaining the same engine speed to augment that all important 'waftability', while at the same time improving fuel economy.
It takes 60 pairs of hands and more than 450 hours to design, construct and craft each Rolls-Royce.
At the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, there are around 1,000 employee's making the world's finest cars and only the finest materials are used and these are painstakingly prepared so their inherent beauty is displayed to best effect.