The Rolls-Royce Phantom has all the necessary ingredients of a plutocrat'scar, including that Parthenon-esque grille to shove plebeians to thesidewalk, a BMW-tuned chassis that delivers ride and handling that belie thecar's mass, a powerful V-12 engine, and a handcrafted interior that fairlyscreams of wealth, power, and exclusivity.
While the Phantom's suicide-style rear doors open to reveal a cossetingcocoon of a cabin in which any member of European royalty, Middle Easternoil sheik, or rock star will feel right at home, those fortunate folksclearly could use a bit more room to stretch out. Thus Rolls has developed anew long-wheelbase version of the Phantom that appropriately made its debutin Geneva, a city that is soaked in cash and fairly bulging with statussymbols, from high-end specialty cars to diamond-encrusted watches. To bebuilt 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 long Rolls is built using the same aluminum spaceframe technology asthe existing car, but Rolls-Royce boasts of using extended-length chassismembers in place of the stock pieces, rather than simply cutting andextending an existing body, which is common with the long-wheelbase versionsof other existing cars. According to Rolls, the long-wheelbase car has thelargest aluminum spaceframe ever constructed.
Rolls hopes that the long-wheelbase version will help it fend offcompetition from Bentley, whose aged Arnage continues to attract more buyersthan the Phantom, and which recently introduced a sedanversion of the successful Continental GT. The Conti four-door will cost some$200,000 less than the big Rolls, though, so theextended-wheelbase Phantom will be far more exclusive.