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On June 21, at a private reveal in a somewhat downtrodden part of Hollywood — where cellphones were taken, embargo papers signed and a darkened room provided for the dramatic unveiling — Rolls-Royce showed off their ultra-luxe Phantom sedan, the brand’s first new iteration since 2003. The top-of-range model, which starts at $450,000 and can double in price with options, is currently available for custom orders and will be delivered to customers in early 2018.
The Phantom, which has come to represent automotive excess and an exclamation point on one’s success, has a long history with Hollywood since it first debuted in 1925, with such storied owners as Fred Astaire (he possessed a Phantom I), Aga Khan (a Phantom IV), John Lennon (a Phantom IV) and a slew of Kardashians and Jenners, J.Lo and David Beckham.
“Our competition isn’t a different car brand,” says Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos in an exclusive chat with The Hollywood Reporter. “Our competition is a company jet, a helicopter, a chalet, a piece of art. At Rolls-Royce, we think: How do people treat themselves when they are successful in life? If people are in love with a lot of different cars, they’ll usually buy them all. Our customers want to be different, and that ambition to be different is part of human nature.”
Rolls-Royce has permeated Phantom’s eighth generation with a sense of unreserved luxury and even sanctuary, including such very British, if slightly eccentric, features, as “The Embrace,” which allows the door to silently shut from the outside with a light touch to a sensor on the door handle; and the now-iconic Starlight Headliner, which creates a twinkling night sky on the interior ceiling of the car with now over a thousand fiber-optic lights that can be custom-placed to represent the sky above whichever home one wishes.
The Phantom’s “Bespoke Commissions” offer customers an obscene amount of choice in terms of colors, materials and options, including a new “The Gallery” feature, where a customized work of art — such as hand-made porcelain roses by Nymphenberg or a gold-plated 3D-printed map of the owner’s DNA created by German product designer Thorsten Franck — can be displayed under a sheet of glass that runs the length of the dashboard. Gimmicky? Yes! Insanely cool? 100 percent! It’s rolling Instagrammable art in one’s car. Muller-Otvos considers the feature more of a private experience than a bragging right: “To our clients, once they are in a Rolls Royce, they don’t need to showcase to anybody anymore, and that makes it a highly attractive car for them.”