Source: Rolls-Royce
Source: Rolls-Royce

What Do Billionaires Dream Of? These Million-Dollar Rolls-Royces

The company produced more than 800 bespoke cars in 2016, each worth more than half a million dollars. Those timeless, exclusive models led the company to record results in the U.S. and abroad.

Last year was a record year for many automakers—not the least of which was Rolls-Royce.

This month the 113-year-old British brand reported that 2016 was its third consecutive record year for U.S. sales and its second-best year ever globally. The brand sold roughly 1,400 cars in the Americas, up 12 percent year over year, and hit 4,011 cars sold globally, up 6 percent for the same period.

Rolls’s new $339,850 Dawn convertible led the charge, accounting for half of total sales. But the robust bespoke program Rolls-Royce runs also bolstered sales: 20 percent of all Rolls-Royce cars are heavily bespoked, according to Pedro Mota, the head of Rolls-Royce Americas—and that’s on top of the usual customization most owners order. Twenty percent is the typical uptick price due to customization.

It makes sense. With an owner base that seeks a luxury that surpasses material acquisition, providing a complete bespoke process on a car is one of the few ways to elicit real emotion from potential buyers.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce, is rather poetic about it: “In commissioning these extraordinary objects in close collaboration with our designers, they create a timeless legacy often profoundly inspired by the most important moments in [our owners'] lives.”  

Led by the launch of the Black Badge Bespoke Series, which is a special limited-edition variant of the Ghost and Wraith, the company has produced hundreds of totally unique cars, with the majority of them in 2016 going to owners in North America and the Middle East. Here are five of the best.

The Michael 'Fux Blue' Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn
The Michael 'Fux Blue' Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn

Everyone in the car world knows Michael Fux (pronounced “fyooks”). The avid car collector made his fortune selling mattresses and orders a new Rolls-Royce what seems like once a year. Many are displayed at Pebble Beach during the Concours d’Elegance and then go on tour to other ritzy locales to show off the craftsmanship. 

The 2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn that Fux used is the carmaker’s first new droptop in decades. It has space for four, a generous trunk, and a silky-smooth transmission. Top speed is 155 miles per hour. The 6.6-liter V12 engine will hit 62 mph in 4.9 seconds. 

 

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The Michael 'Fux Blue' Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn
The Michael 'Fux Blue' Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn

Fux is famous for choosing very odd materials, tones, and details for his cars, as when he commissioned a taxi-cab yellow drophead Phantom. For this Dawn drophead, Fux developed his own trademark shade of blue (so-called Fux Blue), which the company will keep reserved for his use alone. That blue coats the exterior of the car and the hood. It forms a stark contrast to the dazzling white interior, like the ocean surrounding a bleached white island of sand. 

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The Michael 'Fux Blue; Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn
The Michael 'Fux Blue; Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn

The Arctic White interior is highlighted by the color of the Fux Blue bespoke lambswool carpet, which feels about three inches thick when you sink your hand into its depths. (In reality, it's closer to an inch.) The dashboard and deck, steering wheel, veneers, instrument panel, and fittings are all in Arctic White as well, for a stark contrast between the carpeting and the rest of the interior.

The standard-issue Dawn costs roughly $340,000; Fux's cost many thousands more. 

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The Michael 'Fux Blue' Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn
The Michael 'Fux Blue' Rolls-Royce Pebble Beach Dawn

When Fux had it at the Quail last year in Carmel, Calif., this Dawn got a lot of attention for details as tiny as this totally unique pearlized dashboard clock. The car is Fux's 10th commission from Rolls-Royce Custom Motor Cars in 15 years; it joins his private collection of more than 150 motor cars that he keeps like shirts in a closet at a massive garage in Milford, N.J.

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The Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by the Greats
The Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by the Greats

This special-commission bespoke Ghost was ordered by a prominent Rolls-Royce dealer in the Middle East. It is meant to celebrate the great composers in the history of classical music.

The standard-issue Ghost comes with a twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 engine that gets 563 horsepower. It has an eight-speed transmission that hits 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. By comparison, that speed is as fast as a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet and a Bentley Mulsanne Speed. Top speed is 160 mph.

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The Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by the Greats
The Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by the Greats

The Ghost, as Rolls-Royce puts it, is "born to be bespoke." Each one is handcrafted by more than 60 people and covered in five separate coats of paint for a deep, rich exterior that matches the depth of the work on the inside.

On this Ghost, the musical-clef motifs on the exterior body are redone throughout the cabin, too, on the wood paneling, the headrests, and even the dashboard clock. 

 

 

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The Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by the Greats
The Rolls-Royce Ghost Inspired by the Greats

The Ghost Inspired by the Greats has a barrel oak veneer on the dashboard with detailing that looks folded back to reveal dark ebony woodwork underneath it. The darker portion is inscribed with the musical notes from the commissioning patron’s favorite song.

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The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé
The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé

This Phantom Drophead Coupé was commissioned by a wealthy man in Taiwan. It is one of the very last current-generation Phantoms built and incorporates several bespoke features that have regional significance for Taiwan. (For instance, the type of bird referenced in the name lives only in Taiwan.)

Powered by the same 6.75-liter V12 engine as the Phantom Coupé but with a shorter wheelbase, the Phantom Drophead Coupé feels slightly sportier to drive than its hard-top sibling, with a low center of gravity and slightly rear-biased weight.

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The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé
The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé

Every detail of this Ghost holds significance for the owner: The exterior of the Phantom is covered in “Silverlake” paint. The hood is Andalusian White. The Spirit of Ecstasy ornament on the front is cast in gold. Gold is also incorporated in the sides of the car and the pinstripes circling the wheels.

On the inside, the headrests are embroidered with blue magpies. Mother of pearl details are set by hand in the wooden veneers, instrument dials, clock, and control knobs along the dashboard. 

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The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé
The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé

The Phantom Drophead design was initially inspired by the J-class racing yachts of the 1930s, and food and beverage additions such as these lend a relaxed attitude within the car.

The five-layer, soft-top roof is special, too, in that it mimics the original sailcloth methods used by many of the yacht builders close to Goodwood, England, where Rolls-Royce is located. The top is the largest and most silent canvas roof of any modern convertible car; it opens fully in 25 seconds.

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The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé
The Rolls-Royce 'Blue Magpie' Phantom Drophead Coupé

The floor of the car’s trunk is made of teak wood with white maple wood inserts. The trunk has special holders for the Rolls-Royce branded umbrellas that sit on the top. 

This is the final generation cycle of their manufacture, so Phantom Drophead Coupés such as these have become some of the rarest Rolls-Royce cars ever made.

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The Peace and Glory Rolls-Royce Phantom
The Peace and Glory Rolls-Royce Phantom

A Vietnamese entrepreneur commissioned one of the final seventh-generation Phantom Extended Wheelbase sedans. The car was made to show the extraordinary embroidery and wood detailing that Rolls-Royce artisans create at the factory in Goodwood. 

The four-door, four-seat sedan is considered the signature Rolls-Royce car: The wheel proportions, the rear coach doors, Pantheon grille, and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament are all essential to the Phantom DNA. What's more, the Phantom has a British classic 2:1 wheel-to-body height ratio with a long wheelbase and hood, short front overhangs, and deep C-pillars at the rear. That look is distinctly and historically Rolls-Royce. 

 

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The Peace and Glory Rolls-Royce Phantom
The Peace and Glory Rolls-Royce Phantom

A focal point in this Phantom is the "tiger fur" pattern of wood in the rear center console, which is done in such a way that no seams appear along its surface. The car has totally unique trim on the interior seating that includes golden accents, white instrument dials, and a “consort red” steering wheel. 

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The Peace and Glory Rolls-Royce Phantom
The Peace and Glory Rolls-Royce Phantom

The massive rear cabin is full of detail and depth: It comes in two-tone brown leather with extensive embroidery unique to this specific owner. Similarly, the owner's personal designs were laid by hand into the wooden veneers along the sides and front of the car. 

It's a powerful look that matches the Phantom's 6.75-liter, 453-horsepower V12 engine and massive, eight-speed automatic transmission.

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Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Collection
Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Collection

The Phantom is in its final year of production, so as part of the send-off, Rolls invited select patrons of the model to commission 25 examples of each variant (convertible, coupe, sedan). The cars are meant to celebrate how Rolls-Royce owners use their own cars on a daily basis. It’s likely that each car in the collection will become one of the most significant collectable Rolls-Royce cars in history.

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Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Collection
Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Collection

One addition to the collection is a glass-shelf set on the Phantom's split-rear tailgate meant for serving Champagne. Other improvements include a new luggage compartment, a bigger Champagne cooler (it fits two full bottles!), and eight Rolls-Royce glasses easily accessible inside the car.   

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Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Collection
Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Collection

There is also a new central fascia drawer that holds a memento signifying each car’s status as one of the very last Phantoms made. Inside the drawer is a removable polished aluminum case laser-engraved with the car's own identification number surrounded by detailing called Best English Blacking, which is a technique used in gunmaking. It also holds a piece of metal from the Rolls-Royce assembly line where the car was made. 

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The Rolls-Royce 'Dusk Until Dawn' at Porto Cervo
The Rolls-Royce 'Dusk Until Dawn' at Porto Cervo

Last summer Rolls-Royce opened a summer studio space in the resort town of Porto Cervo, Italy. So of course the bespoke team wanted to make unique examples of both the Wraith and Dawn to commemorate the pop-up.

For the design of the Dawn, the natural colors of the Costa Smeralda in northern Italy provided inspiration. The region is famous as a beach holiday destination for Europe's wealthiest travelers. Fittingly, the exterior of the car comes in emerald green; the interior is seashell.

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The Rolls-Royce 'Dusk Until Dawn' at Porto Cervo
The Rolls-Royce 'Dusk Until Dawn' at Porto Cervo

Open-pore teak panels the Dawn cabin, offset by what can be described only as automotive jewelry: Actual emerald stones and mother of pearl set into white gold in the shape of a jeweled compass rose.

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The Rolls-Royce 'Dusk Until Dawn' at Porto Cervo
The Rolls-Royce 'Dusk Until Dawn' at Porto Cervo

The Wraith part of the duo is inspired by dusk, so it is finished in subtle two-tone paintwork on the exterior but has a bold interior—purple with purple silk accents and powder blue detailing meant to evoke the Sardinia sky. The loud ostrich leather on the center console is a throwback to the high-energy clubs, bars, and music of Porto Cervo’s nightlife.

Source: Rolls-Royce