In an automotive marketplace shaken to its very roots during 2008, the variety of responses by automakers has ranged from whistling-past- the-graveyard insouciance to ambitious graspings at the opportunity. But, said F. Scott Fitzgerald, "let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." So are their cars, as it turns out; and no mere global financial meltdown will ever come between a top- hat swell and his drophead coupé.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé
Measuring almost 19 feet long by 7 feet wide, the world's newest Rolls-Royce is anything but a Phantom. There is no question of it being a masterpiece. However, its $407,000 price tag will ensure that this sumptuous cabriolet remains largely invisible to all but the fortunate few.
Under a massive hood resembling a yacht's prow reposes a 6.7-liter V12 engine producing 453 horsepower—enough, in other words, to launch the three-and-a-half-ton Phantom Drophead from zero-to-60 miles-per-hour in under six seconds. The elegant interior provides seating for four amidst a wealth of creature comforts: some two dozen skins are required for the upholstery; hand-rubbed burls and polished metals surround occupants with princely refinement. The "drophead" roof boasts five layers of sound- and weather-isolating textiles, one of which happens to be cashmere.
Unique amongst the chauffeur-driven set, the Phantom Drophead Coupé is intended as a driver's car. Accordingly, it is remarkably agile and spry despite its gargantuan proportions and 21-inch wheels. Extraordinary rear-hinged doors invite a mere quartet of occupants into this convertible's cozy embrace, yet the conspicuous majesty of Rolls-Royce's open-air Phantom invites sighs of admiration from all who catch sight of her.