When creating the Phantom Drophead Coupé our design team drew inspiration from the classic J-class racing yachts of the 1930s. The fastest yachts of their time, these pedigree vessels possessed a spectacular combination of ability, versatility and fitness for purpose. Thanks to the use of the finest materials in their natural state, they were also exceptionally beautiful. It’s this sense of functionality, immediacy and exposure to the elements our designers admired, and what they have striven to capture in the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s thrilling lines. The use of steel and wood – design highlights first seen in the 100EX experimental car of 2004 – cement the maritime theme.
Honesty and integrity were paramount in the design process, which is why the Phantom Drophead Coupé has a soft-top, rather than a folding metal roof so beloved by the rest of the car industry. As Ian Cameron, Rolls-Royce’s Chief Designer, says, ‘It was very important that we didn’t create a folding hardtop, because that is an unclear proposition. Our customers wouldn’t own a reversible jacket, so why would they buy a convertible that looks like a Coupé? Besides, there’s nothing more romantic than sitting in a soft-top car and listening to the rain pattering on the cloth hood.’
It was also important for the styling to give a clearer hint at the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s performance, which is why the front is more rakish and the radiator grille is a more streamlined shape. A car to be enjoyed in a more spontaneous, less formal way, it’s fitting that the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s vibrant character is expressed in such unmistakable style.
Inspired by the ‘bare metal’ theme pioneered in the 100EX experimental car, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s beautiful brushed steel bonnet is a unique and spectacular feature. It’s also the largest panel made from anti-corrosion steel in the car industry.
With a perfectly applied brushed finish, the soft sheen of the bonnet accentuates the Drophead Coupé’s rakish lines, creating an unbroken flow of shimmering steel that runs from the streamlined radiator grille, around the A-frame windscreen surround and along the waistline that encircles the passenger compartment and tonneau cover.
Putting this natural steel into production was a major technical challenge, and it took us six-months to perfect our finishing techniques and treatment processes. Only through such exacting development have we ensured that the unpainted metal is durable enough to withstand the elements. We’ve also conquered the age-old problem of steel and aluminium reacting against one another and causing corrosion.
Sleek and rakish, yet instantly recognisable, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s new face embodies its modern, dynamic spirit while retaining the confidence and grandeur that has characterised
Rolls-Royce for more than a century.
Smaller and reclined at a more streamlined angle than that of the Phantom, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s grille is made entirely from stainless steel: the central element of which is polished, while the outer shell is brushed to match that of the bonnet, windscreen surround and other exterior brightwork.
The new grille design also conceals an ingenious hinged mount, which allows the base of the grille to move in the event of a low speed impact, absorbing parking knocks that would otherwise result in damage.
Another striking feature of the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s face are its headlights. Incorporating LED technology, these slim line sidelights add drama and expression to the Drophead Coupé’s face.
Sitting on top of the new stainless steel grille is the Spirit of Ecstasy, an iconic mascot recognised the world over. Claude Johnson originally commissioned the sculptor Charles Sykes to produce a mascot worthy of his cars in 1911. It is thought that Sykes used a woman by the name of Eleanor Velasco Thornton as his model, and the resulting sculpture has graced Rolls-Royce cars ever since.
When BMW Group took over Rolls-Royce in 1998, it was clear that after so many years of use, the original mould for the Spirit of Ecstasy had become worn. The decision was taken to recast the mould, using state-of-the-art computer technology, and old photographs of Thornton herself, to restore the missing detail and definition to the legendary figurine. Like the Phantom, the Drophead Coupé’s silver lady retracts into the radiator grille, either at the touch of a button, or automatically when you remove the key from the ignition.
There are two wheel and tyre options on the Phantom Drophead Coupé: the standard 19.7in diameter PAX™ wheel, which is fitted with Michelin’s PAX™ run-flat performance tyres (the world’s first application of the PAX™ system as standard); and the larger 21in wheel, which runs on Goodyear’s Extended Mobility Technology (EMT) run-flat performance tyres. In the unfortunate event of a puncture, either system has the capability to be driven for at least 100 miles at speeds up to 55mph, and negates the need for a spare wheel or compressor.
Both types of wheel are available in two finishes; silver with body-colour or chrome centres, or completely chrome plated. Centre caps featuring ingenious self-centering RR logos, which remain upright at all times, are standard feature of either wheel design.
A unique feature pioneered in the Phantom, the Phantom Drophead Coupé develops Rolls-Royce’s coach door theme, with a pair of spectacular rear-hinged doors.
While creating an unmatched sense of drama and occasion, the unconventional nature of the coach doors posed our engineers some serious legislative challenges. These were overcome with the use of sophisticated electronically controlled door latches, which work in conjunction with a series of sensors to ensure that the coach door cannot be opened while the car is travelling at more than walking pace.
With four full seats, it was essential that the coach doors afford both front and rear passengers with unimpeded access. We have also incorporated a closing assistance system, which can pull the door shut from any opening angle, allowing occupants to close the door from within the passenger cabin at the touch of a button. There is also a soft-close mechanism that pulls the doors closed through the final 6mm of travel, minimising effort and noise.
With its aluminium spaceframe chassis 250mm shorter than the Phantom, and with a lower centre of gravity, the Phantom Drophead Coupé builds on Rolls-Royce’s modern tradition of combining a supple ride and sporting handling.
Using Rolls-Royce’s custom-developed double wishbone front suspension and sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, together with air springs and continuous electronic damping control, the Phantom Drophead Coupé maintains a level stance when laden with passengers and luggage, while detail changes to the spring rates and damper settings, together with new anti-roll bars mean the Drophead Coupé unites the apparently conflicting demands of exceptional ride comfort with agility, precision and dynamism.
There is also a driver-selectable ride-height adjustment, which raises the Drophead Coupé by 25mm, for additional ramp clearance or when driving on poorly surfaced roads. Once it exceeds 60km/h the suspension returns to normal level automatically.
The product of our exacting surface finishing process, every Phantom has a total of 5 layers of primer, paint and high-gloss clear coat for an unrivalled shine and depth of colour.
We use state-of-the-art robots in two dust-free ‘clean rooms’ to apply the paint, as they minimise wastage and achieve a more consistent finish than humanly possible. However, we rely on our highly-skilled paint associates to spray those areas of the body the robots can’t reach, and to complete those tasks that require human dexterity and judgement, such as ensuring scrupulously cleaning the bodies between coats, inspecting the final finish for the most minute imperfections, and polishing the paintwork to a flawless mirror finish.In addition to the range of standard paint colours, there is a choice of some 44,000 different hues if you enlist the services of our Bespoke team. It is also possible to have a Phantom Drophead Coupé painted in a two-tone colour scheme, with the lower section of the bumpers and sills painted in Jubilee Silver, to contrast or complement the main body colour.
A product of our love for natural materials, and our admiration for the beauty and fitness for purpose of classic racing yachts, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s rear deck is available made from teak.
Sourced from South-East Asia, we only use blonde green teak grown in hilltop regions, where the ground is better drained. Only these trees yield wood that has the clean grain and rich colouration we’re looking for.
Each deck requires a matched set of up to 30 separate pieces of teak to be cut from the same tree. Only by doing this can we avoid any variation in grain patterns. Once cut each of these 3.5mm thick teak strips are joined together by our craftspeople at Goodwood to form one piece. This section is then bonded to the deck substrate (frame) for increased strength and stability.
Once securely bonded – in an overnight process – grooves are precisely machined into the teak surface before black caulking – the same as used by yacht builders – is applied to the grooves and left to cure for 72 hours.
Curing complete the teak assembly is trimmed to shape before the surface is sanded to a perfectly smooth finish and treated with two sealing coats and one finishing coat of liquid wax, in a process taken from the marine industry and improved for our purposes and requirements.
Besides looking wonderful, the rear deck’s primary function is to conceal the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s soft-top, which lowers at the touch of a button and folds into a remarkably compact space behind the rear seats.
In an age when the car industry appears obsessed with folding metal roofs, the Drophead Coupé’s soft-top is a wonderfully tactile and precisely tailored return to the romance of open-top motoring. However, as the soft-top features a heated glass rear screen and is made from 5 layers of highly durable, sound-deadening waterproof material, it’s a return without compromise.
Unique in a car of this kind, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s picnic boot is so much more than simply a place to stow your luggage.
By dividing the boot lid into an upper and lower section, our designers have created a wonderfully informal and versatile feature. Lifting the upper section and letting down the lower allows you to gain access to the capacious luggage area, or should the opportunity arise, use the space to host the ultimate picnic for friends and family. With a load capacity of 150kgs, the lower section also makes an ideal platform on which to view all manner of sporting events.
Thanks to exceptional packaging and engineering, the soft-top doesn’t intrude into the luggage compartment, even when lowered, leaving ample space for up to 3 golf bags, suitcases or the fruits of a successful shopping mission.
As you’d expect from the latest member of the Phantom family, the heart of the Phantom Drophead Coupé is its all-aluminium 6749cc V12 engine. Using the most sophisticated engine technology available, including direct petrol injection, variable valve control and variable camshaft timing, it produces maximum power of 453bhp at 5350rpm and torque, 531lb ft at 3500rpm – with peerless refinement and unmatched drivability.
Tuned to deliver Rolls-Royce’s legendary ‘waftability’, it gives 75% of its maximum torque at just 1000rpm, the remaining 25% arriving in one, sustained, linear stream as the driver squeezes the throttle.
All this pulling power is delivered to the road through the rear wheels, via a six-speed automatic gearbox. Controlled by a column selector, the transmission uses shift-by-wire technology, which means there is no mechanical linkage between the selector and the transmission itself. With gearshift points optimised for comfort, and pulling away in 2nd gear, the Phantom Drophead Coupé is engineered to make silky smooth progress. Though effortless in delivery, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s performance is truly spirited, with a 0-60mph time of just 5.7sec and an electronically governed top speed of 149mph.
Power of different kind is supplied by the Phantom’s electrical system. With a two liquid-cooled alternators and automatic charge management of the main battery and dedicated starter battery (both located beneath the boot floor for optimum weight distribution), you can use the Phantom’s entertainment systems without fear of draining the starter battery and compromising vehicle reliability.
In keeping with our philosophy of uncompromising design and engineering, we were determined to give the Phantom Drophead Coupé exceptional roll-over protection.
In order to achieve this, the Phantom Drophead Coupé features a sophisticated and immensely strong pair of ‘pop-up’ roll-over protection devices, which are concealed within the rear seat headrests. In the event of an accident that threatens to invert the car, sensors linked to the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s Intelligent Safety and Information System (ISIS) trigger the roll-over devices, which deploy within a fraction of a second (0.3 sec) to support the car and protect rear seat occupants.
Up front, the equally robust windscreen structure, complete with tremendously strong triangulated A-pillars, has been engineered to support the weight of the car, thereby protecting front seat occupants. The Phantom Drophead Coupé’s aluminium spaceframe structure also performs a significant safety function, thanks to impact-absorbing crumple zones and a double front bulkhead, which further isolates occupants from a frontal impact.
ISIS also controls the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s many other vital safety features, including the integrated front seat airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners, via a host of intelligent sensors. Ever vigilant, these sensors almost instantaneously transmit and receive all crash-relevant information, which ISIS then uses to activate individual safety features in such a way as to provide the most effective protection. For increased safety, ISIS also automatically disconnects the battery, retaining just enough energy within the system to activate the airbags if required.
Of course, while ensuring that you are safe in the event of an accident, we would prefer you to avoid having an accident in the first place, and have incorporated a number of electronic systems designed to maximise the braking performance and stability of the Phantom Drophead Coupé.
In addition to the Drophead Coupé’s four-channel ABS anti-lock system, Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) helps drivers reduce stopping distance in an emergency situation when the driver applies the brakes suddenly. DBC ensures that maximum deceleration is achieved by increasing the brake pressure independently of how hard the pedal is pressed, until the car has come to a halt or the driver releases the brake pedal. Cornering Brake Control (CBC) provides assistance in stabilising the car when braking while mid-corner.
Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) manages the amount of power that is fed to the rear wheels to minimise slip and maximise drive, which is especially useful in snow or sleet. Finally, Dynamic Stability Control recognises when the front or rear of the car begins to slide (under- or oversteering) and applies a braking force to individual wheels to bring the car back under control.
In a Rolls-Royce, such informality and flexibility come without compromise. Precisely crafted from a highly durable cloth, the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s tailored soft-top fits to perfection when raised. When lowered, it is automatically stowed beneath the teak deck, to enhance the Phantom Drophead Coupé’s sleek, flowing lines.
The soft-top is comprised of five layers, including special sound-proofing material and a lining of the finest cashmere. As a result, the Phantom Drophead Coupé is not only one of the quietest and most refined convertible cars in the world, but also the most luxurious.
For unrivalled safety and total peace of mind, the Phantom Drophead Coupé also features a unique and incredibly strong A-frame windscreen structure. Mounted directly to the car’s immensely rigid, hand-welded aluminium spaceframe, this impressive and beautiful structure works in conjunction with a concealed protection system mounted behind the rear seats, which is deployed in the unlikely event of an accident.
Together these engineering features ensure that the Phantom Drophead Coupé offers segment-defining levels of roll-over protection.
The Phantom Drophead Coupé is built around a version of the innovative hand-welded aluminium spaceframe first seen in the Phantom.
Some 250mm shorter than that of the original, the Drophead Coupé’s spaceframe is built from 200+ extruded aluminium profiles, 40 per cent of which are new. Together with around 300 parts made from aluminium sheet, the structure is welded together by highly skilled craftsmen in a painstaking process requiring some 500 feet of weld in 2000 separate locations. More welding takes place at the point where the superformed aluminium front wings are joined to the sill, but thanks to the extraordinary skill of our craftsmen, the join is seamless, and invisible once the body is painted.
To ensure the Drophead Coupé’s structure has standard-setting levels of rigidity and safety, the spaceframe features a brace bar across the engine bay, and four more beneath the floor at the front and rear of the chassis. The sill profiles are deeper and thicker for additional strength.
Perhaps the most impressive new feature of the spaceframe is the A-pillar and windscreen surround, which is triangulated for optimum strength and roll-over protection. In fact, so effective is this A-pillar design that roll-over protection in the Drophead Coupé is as good as that of the Phantom.
An impressive and highly effective finishing detail, it takes some 3-hours for our highly-skilled craftsman to hand-paint a single, 6-metre long coachline. Using special brushes, made from ox and squirrel hair, the coachline must be precisely level and an even 3mm in width.
Traditionally painted in a colour to match the interior trim, many customers now elect to have coachlines – both single and twin – in contrasting colours, and sometimes request additional hand-painted monograms or emblems, to further personalise their cars.
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Source: Rolls-Royce Press Release