In 1905, Sir Henry Royce and the honorable Charles Rolls set up their showroom on London’s Conduit Street, Mayfair, just a few steps from the famed center of British fashion, Savile Row. Their idea was to offer the automotive equivalent of bespoke high fashion to well-heeled customers for whom only the finest would do.
The shop is long gone, but the idea remains fresh as ever. Witness the new “Wraith — Inspired by Fashion.” Yes, that’s its full name.
With more horsepower (624) and torque (590) than the Phantom and the Ghost (on which it’s based), the Wraith is Rolls-Royce’s bad boy: a little sportier in handling, a little more noir in its massive, aggressive presence. At nearly 5,400 pounds, it’s no GT racer, but its 6.6-liter V12 twin turbo makes 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, which isn’t too shabby — especially for a car that rides like it’s on a bed of air.
The Wraith is meant to be driven, not just chauffeured around town. So it just makes sense to push the super-luxury Wraith envelope a little more. That’s what “Inspired by Fashion” is all about.
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Giles Taylor, director of design for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “This iteration of Wraith provides a canvas for materials and finishes most commonly associated with the world of fashion. Inspiration was sourced from international catwalks and bespoke tailors, resulting in an aesthetically stunning and sartorially on-point motor car.”
You can get it in any color you want, as long as it’s the two-tone exterior color scheme of Andalucian White and Arctic White. Same with the exterior/interior accent colors: there’s a yellow-green Jasmine, Tailored Purple or Mugello Red and that’s it.
Open the Wraith’s rear-hinged coach doors and you’ll see that the white motif continues, contrasted with rich black surfaces for a stark, cool ambiance. The accent color appears on the two-tone steering wheel via a seamless stitch, a highly complex craft technique derived from the finest tailors. Rich silk adorns the front- and rear-door pockets, as does an abstract representation of the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, set precisely at 55 degrees to complement the door lines.
Slip onto the buttery-soft leather seats — oh, that scent! — and you’re immediately struck by the high quality of everything. Exquisitely book-matched wood that requires nine days to lacquer, jewellike glass on control buttons, polished steel vents with dampered organ-stop levers, superb hand-stitching on the headrests, seats and seat-piping, thick carpet you want to bury your toes in...it just goes on and on. We’re so used to seeing plastic in our cars that all this extravagance is a little breathtaking.
But we can so totally get used to this.
Driving the Wraith is equally over the top. Awesomely powerful, the Wraith makes mincemeat of pretty much everything on the road and looks great doing it. Yet as big as it is, it responds eagerly and effortlessly to the slightest driver input. Even taking tight curves at high speed, there’s virtually no body roll. Rolls-Royce calls all this “waftability,” and now we get what it means.
The experience is helped by Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT) technology that uses GPS data to see beyond what the driver sees, anticipates the next move based on location and current driving style, and selects the most appropriate gear for the terrain ahead. Corners and intersections are all anticipated in advance, which is pretty weird but pretty cool, too.
If fashion’s not your thing, you can choose from the other two bespoke Wraith models — “Inspired by Film” and “Inspired by Music.” Each will set you back about $365,000, give or take a couple bucks here and there for this and that.
So go ahead and raid the college fund. Hey, the kids will just blow your dough anyway. Might as well have yourself some fashionable fun.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
5300 Lemmon Ave.