It’s been nearly two months since I purchased the cheapest Rolls-Royce Phantom available in the USA — and it’s safe to say that I’m probably the poorest Rolls-Royce Phantom owner in the entire world. I bought the car cheap (for a Phantom, $80,000 was cheap) knowing full well that it had numerous issues, which have now been corrected. And it wouldn’t have been so bad to fix everything with the Phantom if it weren’t for one major pitfall.
Shortly after driving the car back from Chicago to Wichita, I thought I was in big trouble when the BMW-derived V12 began misfiring badly. This turned out to be a simple fix — a faulty ignition bad coil, which barely cost more than dinner for two at Taco Bell. So my first repair had me feeling pretty smug, but things escalated very quickly from there.
Despite being a car that cost more than a very nice house in Kansas when new, and the fact that the car only had 48,000 miles on the odometer, parts of the interior were literally falling apart. My mechanic, the Car Wizard, worked diligently to repair these panels with epoxy and glue. This sounds pretty cringey to do on a Rolls-Royce, but these expensive panels were held together by the same brittle plastic clips you would find in an old Kia. Fixing these clips with glue was the smartest way to have a lasting repair — and my wallet didn’t complain much at the $20 for glue and $270 for labor.
Next came solving the suspension warning light, which stemmed from a code suggesting a weak suspension pump. Since this is yet another bit shared with a BMW, the parts cost was high — but not ridiculous — at $650, and it’s a fairly simple job to remove and replace, with the labor coming to only $120. The effects on the new pump were immediate, as the suspension popped back up almost right after the repair — while in the past, it would take a few minutes for the system to build enough pressure to lift this Brontosaurus of a car.
Unfortunately, while the window regulators have the same defective plastic gears as a similar era BMW, the part was specific to Rolls-Royce. I needed both front regulators, which I was quoted $2,600 for at the nearest Rolls-Royce dealer — but thankfully, I found a rebuilding service that was able to sort both of my failing regulators for $1,000 total. It was a pretty labor-intensive effort to remove these very heavy, intricate door panels — so the labor on top of the repair cost me another $360. Still, it could have been much worse.
Worst case scenario really came with the tires, which are unavailable on the Phantom after Michelin gave up on its experimental run-flat system called PAX. The wizard tried sawing off a tire to see if the run-flat discs could be removed — but the main issue with fitting normal tires came from the double lip used in the construction of the wheel to hold on the rim with zero air pressure. As a result, I had to source a completely different set of wheels — and I didn’t want to cheapen the look of my Phantom with something aftermarket.
The most affordable set I could find cost $4,000, and included a set of nearly new tires. Turns out, the tires were too small for the Phantom, so I had to spend another $1,500 for the correct size. If I hadn’t spent more than the value of half my hooptie fleet on wheels, it would have been fairly reasonable to sort out this Phantom — but in total, I’ve spent nearly $8,000 on this "bargain" Rolls-Royce.
With the money I’ve now spent on this Phantom, I could have purchased other lower-mileage examples that seemed more sorted — but I doubt there’s such a thing as a perfect used Rolls-Royce, since most will still have the tire issue to deal with. Plus, I imagine even the low-mileage examples would have issues from sitting so much. So, overall, I’m still very happy with my purchase, and I’m hoping it gives me a long honeymoon as I stupidly attempt to drive this ridiculous car. Wish me luck!
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