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Shin Takei Reviews 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé – Bespoke Romance

By Shin Takei

Automotive Editor-At-Large

The 2016 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé is a spectacular automobile that continues the grand British tradition of elegance, culture, heritage and history. The name Rolls-Royce and its mascot Spirit of Ecstasy has long been associated with the epithet “the Best Car in the World” and synonymous with whatever is the finest product available.

For citizens of United Kingdom and its territories, the description Royal Warrant is a familiar word. For those of us on this side of the pond, many don’t even have a clue to what it is because we have nothing like it here. However we may have seen the Royal Crest marked on products like, Crabtree & Evelyn, Fortnum & Mason, HP Sauce, Johnny Walker,  and Twinning’s Tea for example with the unmistakable “By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen” proudly displayed below.

There are over 269 members on the list and includes most trades like food, clothes, jewelers, household items and automobile manufacturers like Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Royal Warrants were granted at first to those entities exclusively serving the Royal Household but over the years they were allowed to serve the public.

This brings us to another word familiar with the Brits called “bespoke”. In the Mayfair District of central London is Savile Row, known for men’s bespoke tailoring harking back to 1846. Originating from “be spoken for”, it simply means made to order exclusively per the customer’s choice of materials and style to tailor a suit, shirt, tie, hat or shoes to fit his physique. Members of the Royal Household, Emperors, and leaders from all over the world as well as celebrities and VIP’s in the business world have shopped on Savile Row. High-end automobile manufacturers have bespoke programs whereby the customer can choose from a myriad of colors and performance upgrades and choices of wheels and tires for the exterior.

He or she can also choose the exact materials for the interior upholstery and trim to personalize the vehicle. After all of the choices are made, then the assembly of this bespoke automobile begins. It will truly be unique as no one else will have exactly the same creation as you. For instance when you order a pair of shoes from John Lobb on St. James Street you won’t get hem for months. In other words, bespoke is an art form where tradition and skills have been passed on from one generation to another, where apprenticeship is what keeps the trade alive. Back in the beginning every Rolls-Royce was a bespoke creation known by their chassis numbers.

Whether you were a prominent businessman, a member of nobility, a Lord or a Maharaja of India, you chose the coach builder for your Rolls-Royce.  Each Rolls-Royce created was unique and had the individual preferences ordered Bespoke by the owner. Some were purpose built just for sporting events, safaris and hunting and they all had elaborate picnic baskets that were of course bespoke with a bar set. Some bodies were trimmed with exotic woods like teak, tulip wood and mahogany and even wicker basket weave. The Rolls-Royce Bespoke tradition is still going on strong today and you can order your own picnic basket which may cost more than another car.

The Phantom Coupé is powered by a naturally aspirated 6.75 liter V12 engine producing 453 hp @ 5350 rpm and 531 lb-ft of torque @ 3500 rpm. It is mated to an 8 speed ultra-smooth automatic transmission. For a car weighing 5800 lbs, the Phantom is surprisingly agile and is quite at home in spirited driving if needed. After all there’s a BMW in there so handling is never sloppy. You may even be able to thwart paparazzi and bad guys chasing after you. However the Phantom Coupé is at home in comfortable environments and commands a degree of respect from everyone. Whether parked outside a store or cruising on a freeway, people tend to stare and try hard to see who’s inside. At a major hotel in Beverly Hills, the Phantom Coupé immediately went to front row center at the valet, even moving a lesser car aside.

Open the carriage doors and a whoosh of fine leather scent titillates the nostrils as you sit in the sumptuous seats. Take your shoes and socks off and feel the ultra-soft lamb’s wool carpeting. Push the button on the top shelf of the triangular window and the door closes by itself. Our Phantom Coupé was equipped with Bespoke features from special paint, baby blue leather interior with contrast stitching, seat piping, special wood trim and accessories that brought the total cost over half a million dollars.

Listen to the concert hall like Lexicon Logic7 sound system and gaze at the Starlight Headliner fitted with1600 LED lights with variable dimming feature. If you’ve been to the UK, you will understand why this feature is important.  Its overcast most of the time and you can’t see stars at night. The rear compartment has enough space to make anyone comfortable. In fact some people commented they want to move inside. The only gripe we had was the rear three quarter vision being poor because of the massive C-pillar and small backlight. However the humongous side view mirrors help alleviate this problem.

Let your imagination, inspiration and dreams guide you through the Bespoke Program thought process. Yes I would like the Spirit of Ecstasy made by Lalique and the Starlight Headliner patterned after the stars in the sky on the night I was born, and make those 1600 LED light lens out of diamond. Therein lies the romance of a Bespoke Rolls–Royce built just the way you like it. Yes it will cost you a small fortune but if you’re a member of the One Percent group, I say go for it.

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