“The steering wheel rim has always been this fine because a Rolls is driven with three fingers”, He says Marc Mielau with an enthusiastic smile as he imitates the gesture of driving in the air using three fingers of each hand. Everything in a Rolls – Royce is built with a mixture of innovation and respect for tradition that gives each product a great density in terms of “car culture”. Mielau, Rolls-Royce Marketing Manager, is among other things a designer, so when we ask him about the design language and the brand’s corporate image, he smiles and expands with each answer
“The steering wheel rim has always been this fine because a Rolls is driven with three fingers.”
The importance of architecture in the Phantom Metropolitan, the relationship of the current brand with its history or the features of the design shared with Bentley are just some of the things that Supercars Search Engine talked to him about a few days ago in the Paris Salon. And it is that talking about Rolls Royce is more than talking about cars.
The world from above: the Phantom Metropolitan
“The Metropolitan is a car inspired by the capitals of the world and aimed at those people whose activity influences the history of cities, those people who change the shape of the world.”
When Rolls-Royce introduced the Ghost in 2010 it accompanied its launch with a gallery of photos taken next to modern Spanish buildings such as the Zaha Hadid Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza waves Bodegas Darien de Jesús Marino next to Logroño. In the press gallery of the Phantom Metropolitan, photographs of the interior of the car alternate with others of modern buildings worthy of a saloon book. What is the relationship of Rolls and the Metropolitan with architecture? “”In the case of the Phantom Metropolitan, these buildings are more than just a stage to highlight the lines of the car“Mielau responds with conviction”In the photo gallery we have chosen constructions that recall the special characteristics of the car, such as the grill [imitada por una torres de oficinas], rear seat tray [que se sugiere con un moderno voladizo de entrada a un edificio], the watch [recreado por una escalera de espiral] or the waist line [insinuada en un encuadre contrapicado de un rascacielos]. But the details do not end there, we can see some more in the car”Indicates pointing towards the exhibition area. Outside awaits the monumental Phantom, which looks large even compared to the massive Ghost and Wraith that flank it.
As we leave, he insists on the positioning of the Phantom Metropolitan series: “The Metropolitan is a car inspired by the capitals of the world and aimed at those people whose activity influences the history of cities, those people who change the shape of the world”. I understand that “changing the world” refers to global economic and geopolitical decisions, so it must be very exclusive: Only 20 copies of the Metropolitan will be made, almost the same as the 17 of the famous Phantom IV intended only for heads of state.
“The grill, which is where the engine is located, becomes the car’s “power center”, just as its owners represent a power center in cities.”, Explains Mielau,“hence the waist line does not emerge from the front fin but from the corner of the grill”. The inconspicuous line from the top of the radiator runs down the side of the car to the taillight. It is hand painted and at the height of the C pillar shows the synthetic drawing of a bunch of skyscrapers that evoke those of any financial district of one of those “Capitals of the world”. An analog clock on the dashboard allows you to know the time in the 24 most important cities on the planet by turning its outer dial, one more of the “retro” details that abound inside the Phantom. A courtesy mirror embedded in the interior of each C-pillar is another of those “old-fashioned” details that connect this one with the homonymous cars of the 1920s… only the vase with the flowers is missing.
Making custom bodies might be too expensive today, when everything is different from those days of bodybuilders.
“There are five different images of this “skyscraper city” on each car, all handcrafted in wood inlay. [un dibujo formado por pequeñas piezas de madera de diferentes tonos y tamaños], with real metal inserts.”Highlights Mielau while stopping at the aerial image of a city with skyscrapers that stretches out in front of the passenger seat and that seems to be taken from the Museum of Decorative Arts. “In each of the trays behind there are two other different images of the city: one when it is folded and another when it is opened. The latter is an aerial view, the panoramic view of the city that the kind of customer who will own this car”. I don’t know if these clients will be that powerful, but if I had to explain this Phantom in my (old) art historian language I would say that the whole car is a courtly monument, an exaltation of the power of the owner. The image of a skyscraper is embroidered on the back of the seats, and we pointed out to Mielau how much it reminds us of the Empire State or the Chrysler Building, the giants of the 20s and 30s.That is a period of strong inspiration for us.” answer back “in fact two years ago we presented here our collection “Art Deco” …”
There is no doubt that much of the stately image of Rolls in its history is due to the decidedly “retro” body design that characterized the models from 1946 to 1965: Silver Wraith, Silver Dawn, Phantom IV-V and Silver Cloud. BMW He has already rescued the Mini so the recreation of models from the past is in his repertoire … Will there be a future model honoring those typical forms of the 30s?: “An overtly “retro” design would not fit in our brand today. Our current exterior design is modern and our cars are respectful of history by being modern.“”He sits up slightly in the chair adopting a more energetic posture and adds”But we also bet on innovation: for example, the Wraith’s satellite-guided transmission is something that Henry Royce would have invented, because it is about using the best available technology to do something new and that improves the driver’s experience.“.
However, the customization of the bodywork is one of the strengths of Rolls’ offer to its customers, and also of its history, with the different bodybuilders who, until the 60s, made Crewe cars “tailored suits” . Is it possible that we will see new Rolls made “to suit the customer” as in the days of the bodybuilders?, we asked Ruth Hucklenbroich, Head of Communications for Western Europe. “Our Bespoke customization program offers a lot of options and that means that there are practically no two Rolls the same. However, making custom bodies may be too expensive today, when everything is different from that time of bodybuilders. Even so, it cannot be completely ruled out in a timely manner if a client requests it”
The convoluted history of an automotive icon
Bentley has opted for a sportier interpretation of that past […] Rolls – Royce is more of an automotive icon.
In 1998 the group Vickers, which had bought the Rolls – Royce car division from the British state in 1973, sold to Volkswagen the Bentley brand, the Crewe factory, the “Spirit of Ecstasy” rights and the Rolls radiator patent. However, the name and logo of the double R, which still belonged to the aviation division, were sold that same year to BMW. In a picturesque agreement between the two, Rolls – Royce and Bentley went from being twin brands to rivals but with a 67-year history of technology and design in common. “How do you manage, speaking of design and image, that common heritage when creating new products?“. “Bentley has opted for a sportier interpretation of that past, its products convey more of its legacy in competition and in fact one of its main references is the “Bentley Boys” [pilotos de finales de los años 20 que ganaron 4 veces consecutivas las 24 horas de Le Mans]”, He replies. “Rolls – Royce is more of an automotive icon“Hucklenbroich told me a moment before, highlighting the power of representation of his cars.
This iconic character also implies a special relationship with the collectors who treasure much of the brand’s historical legacy. “Enthusiast and owner clubs are the primary managers of that collection legacy. We do not have a museum of the brand for now, and we have recently started to build our own collection. There are some cars in Goodwood and some others in Munich”Highlights Hucklenbroich. “We like to keep in close contact with them and get their opinion on new (and future) products.“Adds Mielau. The exclusivity of some of these cars highlights the importance of collectors: the Phantom IV that was part of the exhibition that BMW organized in Munich is not owned by the brand but by the banker Ion Tiriac. “We don’t have a Phantom IV in our collection, for now.Hucklenbroich emphasizes.
“If a user wants to drift in their garden with their car and share the video, we like that they also enjoy the car that way.”
We have been chatting between the Rolls cars and inside the brand’s booth for over an hour, and we feel trapped by the atmosphere of luxury and refinement that surrounds the brand, so I cannot say goodbye without asking one last long-standing question. intrigue me. How does Rolls live that their cars have also become viral phenomena of popular culture through Hip Hop stars or some expressions of urban culture, apparently so far removed from this world of serenity and good taste? “We certainly like customers to celebrate their Rolls in any way they want. If a user wants to drift in their garden with their car and share the video, we like that they also enjoy the car that way”Explains Mielau referring to the video we shared on Supercars Search Engine a few weeks ago“but as brand this kind of expressions are not part of our communication strategy”, He adds. And it seems to me that in her expression there is that touch of so typical of the brand’s history that, despite its checkered history, it still has a genuine character.
Photos: Supercars Search Engine | Rolls – Royce
In Supercars Search Engine: This is how Rolls-Royce dazzled at the Paris Motor Show | The ghost room. The Rolls – Royce Phantom IV “Real” from the Torre Loizaga collection