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Retro

Rolls-Royce has restored its pair of Goodwood Soapbox racers

Named the ‘RR0.01’ and ‘RR0.02’, the latter even previously clocked a speed of 72mph… with no engine

Published: 18 Mar 2024

Rolls-Royce’s apprentices have been hard at work over the last few months restoring this pair of antique ‘gravity’ racers, which were the first two cars commissioned by the marque to commemorate its revival in the early Noughties under BMW stewardship.

Aptly named the ‘RR0.01’ and ‘RR0.02’, the duo participated in Goodwood’s Soapbox Challenges where engineless cars are driven down the famous hill by nothing but… gravity. And guts, seemingly.

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The RR0.01 previewed the design of the Phantom VII and mated a carbon and glass fibre body with a composite of honeycomb plates and aluminium. The huge vertical grille also makes the 01 look like an early Twentieth-Century comic book villain’s car, while 874-spoke alloys proved a nice touch.

The RR0.02, on the other hand, looks much more serious about racing. This one was inspired by the original Silver Ghost (that won the 1913 Alpine trial among other accomplishments) and like the first, was built for much speed. As such, there's a sculpted body for improved air channelling, and closed carbon alloys and tubular tyres to limit rolling resistance. As a result, the 02 crossed the 2013 Soapbox event’s finish line at a whopping 72mph. That’s impressive for something with no engine.

Both cars have effectively been retired in the 11 years since, but following a full-body and mechanical restoration could return to racing duties soon. Perhaps dropping them from the side of the Gangkhar Puensum, the world’s steepest mountain, would be the ideal way to set a new gravity racer world speed record?

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