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8 reasons we want a Phantom Waterspeed

  1. This is the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Waterspeed edition, built to celebrate Sir Malcolm Campbell’s circa 1937, 129.5mph water speed record.

    Why? Well, the company says that this Phantom doffs its cap to Sir Malc’s boat, the Bluebird K3, which was powered by a Rolls-Royce R-Type engine. There’s also some guff about celebrating brave endeavour and derring-do. But if you peer under the flannel, you’ll see something a lot more interesting.

    What this car demonstrates is the breadth of RR’s bespoke department - the in-house customisers that build one-off stuff for rich people. Think West Coast Customs that’s gone to finishing school. This department lets the customers co-design a few little touches, just for them, then charges them a tremendous amount of money for the privilege. One-off paintwork, special engraving work, unique seating - it’s all possible. As are bills well north of £100,000.

    A Rolls-Royce spokesperson says: “99.9 per cent of Phantom sales have an element of bespoke on them. So do about 90 per cent of Wraith, and 75 per cent of Ghosts. The customers like to personalise their car.”

    Thing is, it seems plutocrats - and the other crats that make up RR’s customer base - aren’t always terribly creative, and occasionally need a nudge of the imagination to spark more bespoke commissions. What this car does, and other concepts like the Celestial Phantom do, is remind them how wild they can go.

    Click on to see what’s possible…

  2. The paint

    The blue’s named after Lake Maggiore, and it’s inspired by Bluebird’s eponymous paint. There are nine layers of it applied, and it gently flips shade in the sunshine. Just like those Nissan Primeras used to.

  3. The engine

    This is the first time Rolls has painted an engine bay on a series car, and doesn’t it look splendid? The 453bhp, 531lb ft V12’s accented in the same Maggiore blue as the outside, as are the wheel inserts.

  4. The gauges

    The rev counter in a Rolls doesn’t usually have a redline, but in the Waterspeed it’s been given a yellow and blue zone, just like Campbell’s K3 - ‘going into the blue’ was shorthand for maximum engine revs on the boat. Incidentally, all the numbers on the dials have been cut from aluminium, too.

  5. The bird thingy

    When you open the door, you can see a hand-engraved trim piece mounted to the arm rest, which is an interpretation of Campbell’s Bluebird motif. Each one takes eight hours to build. There’s also Abachi wood, which has, in the company’s words, been ‘bookmatched at an angle to echo the wake left by a boat moving at speed’. Snazzy.

  6. The cupholders

    As well as looking pleasingly steampunk, the cupholders click your can of Tango into place with a sort of twisting bolt action. No wonder ten people worked full-time for 18 months putting these one-offs together. The cupholders alone took 500 hours to design and build. Five HUNDRED.

  7. The glovebox

    There’s a hand-embroidered panel with all the records Campbell achieved at Lake Maggiore and Coniston Water.

  8. The convertible roof lid

    Instead of the teak you’ll normally find on the Phantom Drophead Coupé, there’s brushed steel. But because there’s not enough call for RR to tool up and mass-produce this, each piece of material is individually panel-beaten by hand for 70 hours to fit, then hand brushed for more than ten hours to finish.

  9. The price

    This is why we can’t have the Waterspeed. Each of the 35 cars costs a fantastic £440,000. Not that the company’s particularly worried about being left with a job-lot of Waterspeeds - most are already spoken for, and the handful remaining have been held back for territories that haven’t yet seen it.

    Now, how would you bespokify your Phantom DHC?

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