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The Agony and the Ecstasy of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé
Extreme luxury—if you can find the room for it
Unapologetically imperious and almost embarrassingly imposing, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé is a sled you’ll likely love driving but quite possibly detest being seen in.
This three-ton four-seater is a rolling paradox: though the interior is outrageously pleasant, the exterior is peasant-crushingly grand—which is to say, unless basking in public superiority makes you giggle with delight, you may want to stick to something a tad more understated for your driving duties, like a gold-plated Humvee or a Sherman tank.
I was able to experience this Roller’s curious duality firsthand when borrowing the heavyweight ragtop for a week. For starters, entering and exiting the Drophead Coupé is a marvel, if only for its novel doors—two massive slabs that open backwards thanks to their reverse-mounted hinges. Oh, and they shut automatically via small buttons inside the cabin. You haven’t quite alienated the natives until you've swung those massive ports closed by barely lifting a finger.
Inside, the Drophead boasts all the bespoke options you’d expect in a royal boudoir: lavish lambswool foot mats ($1,450), custom treadplates ($1,950), black stained ash wood trim ($3,675), and a personalized clock face ($9,450). Exterior options are even more dizzyingly priced; the nautically inspired brush steel and teak decking runs $19,700, polished seven spoke, 21-inch wheels add $10,900 to the tab, and the so-called Silver Haze paint color boosts the bottom line by another $9,450. The net financial impact for this particular land yacht is $568,900, a figure that barely edges out the median cost of a single-family residence in Los Angeles.
Fittingly, the term “safe as houses” comes to mind when you’re driving this hulking Roller, which insulates its occupants from the white noise of city life with a crazy quiet cocoon of comfort. Rolls-Royce invented the term waftability to describe the feeling of effortless forward propulsion, and there’s perhaps no easier way to experience that firsthand than by sitting in the massive throne that is the driver’s seat. When throttled, this conveyance manages to scoot through space at a surprising pace, while simultaneously managing to produce nearly no sound. Eerily smooth, quiet, and fleet, the Phantom Drophead Coupé combines swiftness with a whisper of an exhaust note, making it the polar opposite of loud and brash sports cars. Even with the canvas top down, (an agonizingly slow task that is sure to anger surrounding traffic, since the car must be stationary for the droptop to deploy), there’s virtually zero wind, tire, or engine noise to speak of—just the wheels turning in the driver’s head as he or she plots the next corporate merger or third world coup d’état.
After a week with the Phantom Drophead, I wasn’t sure if I preferred living like a pampered billionaire or toiling away in automotive anonymity. While I almost wished my ego were plus-sized enough to fit this King-sized persona, one thing proved undeniable: the delicious waftability of this magnificent driving machine.