Rolls-Royce Captures Automotive World With A Ghost

April 3, 2010/Steve Tackett


“Design is like music: if the parts don’t fit together you have noise — not music,” says Ian Cameron, chief designer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Set to launch later this year (with an estimated base price around $245,000), the 2011 Ghost is undeniably Rolls-Royce in style, but less buttoned up and more petite than the Phantom saloon. And in the end, it’s all about Rolls-Royce craftsmanship.
Passing through 60 pairs of hands, the production process of the new Ghost involves more than 2,000 individual operations and takes at least 20 days to complete.
Available in 12 exterior colors, Ghost spends seven days being painted and polished to perfection. Five stages are hand-sanded between each layer; the final coat is hand-polished for five hours.
The leather is sourced from bulls raised in pastures free of barbed wire, thereby ensuring fewer imperfections. At least eight hides are used for each interior, and to guarantee color consistency, each hide comes from a batch dyed at the same time. All seats and interior panels are hand-stitched using traditional upholstering techniques.
Veneer from one tree only is used in any car to ensure that the grain matches throughout the interior and that each area ages and colors at the same pace.
On the outside are large flowing surfaces, a low-cut roof, strong shoulders and flanks with dynamic touches like optional chromed exhausts. The classic cues, long bonnet and short front overhang, complement the more modern elements of the Xenon headlamps, self-righting wheel centers and the latest evolution of the Rolls-Royce grille.
Inside Ghost, you’ll find frosted lamps and chrome door handles along with traditional violin key switches and eyeball air vents. Underfoot are deep-pile carpets or the optional lamb’s wool floor mats.
True to form, umbrellas are housed within the front doors. Rear-hinged coach doors are closed at the touch of a button, an optional Panorama Sunroof, which extends from the front into the rear compartment and optional individual rear lounge seating, is offered with massage and perforated leather for a pleasant stream of air. A cool box with integrated champagne glasses and picnic tables fitted to the rear of the front seats are yet another option.
“The interior is the stage that sets the owner off,” explains Design Chief Cameron.

“Like a great butler, the services are discreet; we try to subdue everything,” Cameron intones when commenting on the Ghost’s interior, which includes frosted art deco glass tinted a cool turquoise gray. Soft lights illuminate within the door pockets when you dip your hand in.
“Ghost is designed to be an escape from the outside world,” according to Alan Sheppard, interior designer for Rolls-Royce. To wit, 600 watts of sound are delivered through a 10-channel amplifier and 16 speakers, including two floor-mounted subwoofers.
Engineering Director Helmut Riedl adds, “A Rolls-Royce should be graceful in every way: the way it handles, feels and brakes.”
A journey in Ghost is described as “riding on a bed of air”. A new air suspension system can detect even the smallest of changes. For example, it will sense the movement of a single rear passenger from one side of the seat to the other and compensate accordingly.
Ghost is propelled by a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine. The direct inject engine produces 563 horsepower; enough to ramp up from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. Power is transmitted through an eight-speed automatic ZF gearbox.
Ghost is more driver-centric than any Rolls-Royce car ever created. The driver sits in a slightly elevated position behind the wheel, for a better view of the road, and the steering wheel is bigger in circumference for a more comfortable grip. Eight soft-touch buttons, colored in cool turquoise gray (to match the frosted glass) can be used to navigate the center control display, which is discreetly concealed behind a veneered panel. Controls can also be navigated via a central rotary controller or voice control.
The Ghost is loaded with technology. Rear, front, side and top view cameras combine to provide a fish-eye perspective at blind junctions or capture ground images with obstacle-recognition and reverse-path-prediction when parking.
Ghost, the 21st-century Rolls-Royce, is a product of over 100 years of engineering and design finesse expressed in modern style.
“When we are going to work on a new car, I just sort of go off into a fantasy daydream to find how we can realize it. In the final analysis, it’s about creating romantic memories,” Ian Cameron says. — Holly Reich, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010