We interrupt this Daily Drivers column to present a car that's decidedly not a daily driver — unless you're a member of the 1 percent class. For the rest of us curious about what a half-million dollars on wheels is like, we present the 2014 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé — an apotheosis of luxury.
Why so much? First, the cars are hand-crafted in Goodwood, England. Buying a Rolls-Royce is like going to a Savile Row tailor — it's a custom, or "bespoke," experience limited only by what you want to spend. For example, our $568,900 tester — the most expensive car we've ever driven — had almost $20,000 in teak-wood decking and brushed-steel on the hood and door pillars. Then there were the 21-inch, fully polished seven-spoke wheels for almost $11,000. The Silver Haze finish is $9,500. And those are just the standard dealer options. Add some Bespoke features like piping ($3,200), personalized clock face ($9,500), white instrument dials ($7,700), and the price jumps drastically
How luxurious? The appointments fittingly recall that of a luxury yacht, with even Rolls-Royce making the comparison. Inside, the cabin is tasteful, even minimalist, especially for anyone who has driven some of the tech-laden German luxury cars. There's little to detract from the buttery leather interior made of preshrunk hides, lamb's wool floor mats (you'll want to run your bare feet through them), coach doors (please don't call them "suicide") and stainless-steel pinstripes. As Lyra, says: "You also pay for what you don't get." In this case, noise. The droptop's cabin is as quiet as a Zen garden. One surprise, the key fob felt plasticky and unsubstantial. "You'd expect it to be Tiffany with a price like that," one colleague said.
How does it drive? I'm not sure we've ever experienced an engine so quiet at idle, even with the bonnet (hood) raised. And the engine in question is a massive 453-horsepower 6.75-liter V-12. Lyra had a colleague eager for a ride tell her: "Okay, let's crank it up!" But the engine had been idling all along. As for the ride, it's as if you've been born aloft by cherubs. We kid. The off-white leather seats with red piping are living-room-couch comfortable, and the almost 6,000-pound land-yacht floats softly down the road — even on rough brick streets — courtesy of the suspension features that include self-leveling air springs and continuous electronic damping control. Unlike other cars, you hardly feel the bumps as much as you register them ("Oh, was that a speed bump?")
Other unique features:
• Two umbrellas are tucked into the front fenders, accessible when you open the door.
• Each coach door can be closed electronically with buttons on the dash.
• The five-layer electronically retractable soft-top roof has a cashmere-blend headlining
The bottom line: Is it worth it? To most of us, no. But to the few who can afford to own a Rolls-Royce, then the Phantom is one of the ultimate four-wheel status symbols. Peter took our CEO for a spin with the top down. When they stopped at a light, the driver in the car next to them said admiringly: "You guys have made it."