In retrospect, it might not have been the wisest decision to pull into a Texas scrapyard in a half-million dollar 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. But we were a bit lost, needed directions, and the place just looked so damned… interesting.
Let it be known, Texas junkyards are way cooler than ours.
I turned the big, thin-rimmed wheel of the big, fat-tired Roller to the right and followed the Spirit of Ecstasy as she so gracefully led us into this wonderland of faded paint and glories past.
We stopped just past the entrance and I hopped out.
“Let me run in first and ask if it’s okay to take pictures.”
That was probably a semi-wise decision. I’ve seen too many movies where gap-tooth mouth-breathers from Texas backwaters do weird things to city slickers. And by gawd, this scenario had potential.
Cue the banjo music.
A couple of well-dressed dudes from Toronto (older musician and young bearded hipster) arrive amid this vehicular decay in a Phantom Drophead Coupe – the most expensive Rolls-Royce on offer. But wait. This bespoke creation is all white. The Drophead’s usual brushed aluminum hood, A-pillars and teak rear deck have all-white substitutes.
The seats, trimmed in the perfect hides of very large bulls raised in the high altitudes of Germany are white. The door panels are white. The pasty complexions of our two sun-starved Canucks are white.
“Guess how much it’s worth?” I said.
The sporadically arranged teeth of the greasy yard workers are not white. They eye this ghostly apparition with a mixture curiosity and… hunger? A couple of mangy dogs sniff the tires and one pees on a the 21-inch chromed alloy wheel. That’s a $4,025 upgrade, dontcha' know.
“Hey fellas. We’re, like, lost, eh. Where’s highway 183? Can we take some pictures? Wow, that’s a ‘57 Ford Skyliner convertible hardtop, eh!”
A few moments of silence is followed by a horrible metallic scraping as the entrance gate closes behind the Roller’s boot.
“You boys drive your fancy convertible up there on the scales. We got some business to attend to.”
Whoah. Cut! Reset.
It went nothing like that. That was the C movie pitch.
I walked up to a fellow leaning into the engine bay of a ’63 Impala wagon with the most spectacular patina. Fifty years of Texas sun had turned it into a work of art. It had a 283 V8 with a two-speed Power Glide tranny, and it was his pride and joy. I wanted to drive it home.
After he kindly gave me directions, I explained who we were and what we were doing. He invited us in to take all the photos we wanted.
“Yeah, I saw that Bentley pull in a thought, what the…”
“It’s actually a Rolls-Royce.”
Soon the yard workers were gathering around, eyeing this gobsmacking piece of British craftsmanship with shy grins, like they were in the presence of royalty and didn’t quite know how to conduct themselves. The boss man showed up, all smiles.
“Guess how much it’s worth?” I said....
“A hundred and fifty thousand,” he ventured.
On hearing half a million, the boys stepped back another foot. We had to actually coax them to peer into the interior.
I explained to them how a good part of these cars are lovingly crafted by hand. It takes over a month for craftsmen to fashion the 48 pieces of book-ended veneer that go into a Phantom limo. The black stained ash in this specimen adds $7,950 to the bottom line. Factor in another $3,375 for the seat piping.
These guys think this is freakin’ awesome. The boss man pulls out a massive wad of bills and jokingly offers it to us. This is a cash business after all. Ensuring his pants are clean, we let him sit in the Phantom so his employees can take photos.
Yes, those Arctic White panels looks as though you could plunge your hand into them. There’s about 30 pounds of paint on this car, and the finish is hand rubbed for seven hours before leaving the factory.
My driving partner wanted to do a burnout… er, just because.
We pop the hood and give them an eyeful of the BMW-sourced naturally-aspirated 6.75L V12 that makes 453 hp and 531 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm. This engine is so smooth and so silent you’re hard pressed to know it's running.
In reciprocation, one fellow proudly lifts the hood of an old Ford Bronco, showing off its transplanted V8. Cool.
We, the two white knights in their pale steed, say our goodbyes and glide back on to the paved surface.
Driving a Phantom is an experience like no other. It’s exactly what you’d expect a traditional, and enormous, Rolls-Royce to feel like - truly the smoothest riding car I’ve ever driven. It floats over the road as if on a cushion of air. The handling can only be described as nautical. Turn the wheel, which has all the feel of a ship’s helm, and the huge prow gently noses into the turn. Plenty of listing too. You won’t be hustling the Drophead Coupe down a twisty road, but in a straight line this Roller can accrue velocity with relentless urge.
There’s no tach, but just to left of the unfashionably small yet gloriously appropriate speedo is the power reserve gauge. With your right foot planted into the $1,525 lambswool floor mats you can get ‘er down to about ten percent. My driving partner wanted to do a burnout… er, just because. However, the Rolls-Royce engineers have preempted any attempts at such foolishness by not allowing the traction control to be disabled. Ever. God Save The Queen and pass the Stilton.
Our final destination was the Circuit of the Americas just outside of Austin, Texas. And no, we weren’t about to take the Drophead out for a few laps. We did manage one rather incredible feat that I doubt any other car on the planet could replicate.
I had a Loonie in my pocket. We balanced it on edge in the V12 crest atop the engine. We fired up the engine and damn if the coin didn’t topple over. Okay, it took a few tries. But still.
Another 600,000 of these Canadian bucks and this car could be mine.
Pricing: 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
Base price: $479,775 (all figures in US dollars)
Optional equipment: 21-inch Chromed Alloy Wheels $4,025; Lambswool floor mats $1,525; seat piping $3,375; contrasting RR monograms in headrests $1,450; Black Stained Ash $7,950; bespoke interior charge $3,400
Gas Guzzler tax: $2,600
Destination charge: $2,500
Price as tested: $506,600 USD