The Rolls-Royce Phantom has all the necessary ingredients of a plutocrat's car, including that Parthenon-esque grille to shove plebeians to the sidewalk, a BMW-tuned chassis that delivers ride and handling that belie the car's mass, a powerful V-12 engine, and a handcrafted interior that fairly screams of wealth, power, and exclusivity. While the Phantom's suicide-style rear doors open to reveal a cosseting cocoon of a cabin in which any member of European royalty, Middle Eastern oil sheik, or rock star will feel right at home, those fortunate folks clearly could use a bit more room to stretch out. Thus Rolls has developed a new long-wheelbase version of the Phantom. To be built at Rolls-Royce's factory in Goodwood, on the south coast of England, the big Rolls adds ten inches in wheelbase and will bear a price of $385,000. The longer Rolls is built using the same aluminum spaceframe technology as the existing car, but Rolls-Royce boasts of using extended-length chassis members in place of the stock pieces, rather than simply cutting and extending an existing body, which is common with the long-wheelbase versions of other existing cars. According to Rolls, the long-wheelbase car has the largest aluminum spaceframe ever constructed. Rolls hopes that the long-wheelbase version will help it fend off competition from Bentley, whose aged Arnage continues to attract more buyers than the Phantom, and which recently began to offer the Flying Spur, a sedan version of its Continental GT. That car costs some $200,000 less than the big Rolls, though, so the extended-wheelbase Phantom will be far more exclusive.
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