When someone states that spending $65,000 over a car’s base price – bringing the total to $444,750 – is a bargain, it’s a strong reminder that everything really is relative. The car in question is the limited-run Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Collection and the nice young gentleman on the company’s 2011 New York auto show stand, wearing fashionable dark-rimmed glasses and an exquisitely tailored suit, did have a point.
A regular Rolls-Royce Phantom starts at $380,000. Many buyers like to use the company’s “Bespoke” personalization program to acquire things like matching luggage, glassware and picnic sets. However, the Centenary model already packs many special items. For example, only four dedicated exterior paints are available. Badges, instead of the usual chrome, are white-on-black enamel. And the “flying lady” hood ornament – the Spirit of Ecstasy – is fashioned from solid silver on this occasion.
It’s this lady’s birthday the Centenary Collection is commemorating. She first appeared on Rolls-Royce cars 100 years ago and has become an essential part of the Rolls-Royce tradition as the most recognizable luxury cars in the world for royalty and rock stars alike.
“The Spirit of Ecstasy is perhaps the most iconic symbol of the automotive industry,” said David Archibald, the new president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America. “It is only fitting that her centenary be celebrated with an unparalleled collection of cars in terms of craftsmanship and attention to detail.” The lady herself stands on a black-gold bezel bearing the inscription: Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary – 2011. A numbered silver plaque is hidden away inside and the owner also gets a certificate of authenticity along with a “flying lady” desk ornament.
So, the smart young bespectacled chap explained, a Phantom coupe version given the Centenary treatment would be money well spent. The coupe body style is a much rarer beast than the sedan already, and since only 100 Centenary editions will be made worldwide (with just 21 bound for the United States – 16 Phantoms and five Drophead convertibles), that’s a double incentive for future car collectors. Enthusiasm like this can only be an asset, however good or bad the economy might be.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.