Rolls Royce Dawn Convertible

Dawning of a new era


21 June 2018

IT is the dawning of a new era, not just for Britain but for the world, thanks to the unchartered waters of Brexit and an unorthodox new American President.

Interesting times for British businesses, including Rolls-Royce, that could never have guessed what lay around the corner when it embarked upon an ambitious policy of expansion.

A drive to achieve one new car every year is quite outrageous by the standards of such a traditionally cautious company, but it may turn out to be fortuitous nonetheless, possibly even an omen.

The name of the latest model heralds the dawning of a new era for the company, with a break from tradition and some would say, a brave journey in to the unknown.

The name itself may not be new, and neither is the concept of a convertible Roller, but only 28 of the original Silver Dawn dropheads were ever made, between 1950 and 1954, being the first Rolls-Royce to sport a factory-made body.

Now, however, the company is enjoying its second highest sales in its 113-year existence, with the new Dawn attracting the strongest pre-order book for any new Rolls-Royce.

This is veering dangerously close to mass production by Rolls-Royce standards, with eager punters queuing up to hand over in excess of £300,000 for each vehicle.

The hefty cost is partly because virtually every model is built to each buyer’s individual specific requirements, with an apparently endless list of adornments that conspire to make no two cars the same.

Even the Chancellor is laughing all the way to the bank, with a whopping £44,000 in tax on the basic price of a single car, plus the taxes paid on the salaries of the company’s 1,700 UK staff, and growing.

What additional taxes the American President may impose on such an upmarket import, if any, remain to be seen.

Undaunted, in the last 12 months Rolls-Royce has doubled the size of its British research, development and manufacturing facilities, and added half a dozen new dealers to its network.

However, this is not just a British or even European operation, despite its UK base and German ownership, with the US being among its biggest markets and a recent order for 30 cars worth about £8 million for a single buyer in Macau.

Now Rolls-Royce is gearing up for even further growth, with the Wraith, Ghost and Dawn models due to be joined by the new Phantom next year.

The remarkable reincarnation of this once-ailing car company is testament to the fact that one certainty in this so-called uncertain world is that the rich are getting richer, and there are more of them every year.

It also illustrates the undeniable truth that those who can afford the best aspire to it being not just better than the rest, but so good that it elevates them to celebrity status by becoming unattainable for all but the select few.

This is the rarefied atmosphere of the sort of exclusivity for which punters are prepared to pay the heftiest of premiums, safe in the knowledge that they are investing in perfection, or at least as close to it as the world’s most accomplished automotive craftsmen can achieve.

It is this obsessive attention to detail that sets cars such as the classically elegant Dawn drophead apart from other pretenders that also target the ultimate accolade in a growing market in which high-powered convertibles are not uncommon.

This Roller achieves an unrivalled presence, with everything about it being on a grand scale, from its gargantuan size at virtually seventeen and a half feet long, to its enormous weight of two and a half tonnes, driven by a 12-clynder engine of 6.6-litres.

Despite its impressive bulk, this monster of a motor can generate pulling power of 780Nm to launch itself from rest to 60mph in just 4.9 seconds, and if the top speed were not electronically limited to just 155mph, it would be in excess of 200mph.

Now that is what you call wind in the hair motoring, but only with the six-layer folding roof down, otherwise the atmosphere inside is of the gently wafting climatically controlled and purified variety.

As with all automobiles charged with the honour of carrying the famous flying lady upon its bonnet, the Dawn convertible continues the tradition of cossetting its occupants by means of an enviable suite of luxuries.

Where it differs from the other thoroughbreds in its own stable, is to lower the age profile in a bid to achieve mission impossible by appealing to thirtysomethings and their parents in equal measure.

For whilst there are bespoke umbrellas nestling within the bodywork that can be drawn like a sword from a scabbard, there is also a megabase sound system capable of scaring the birds from the trees at a distance of two miles.

There is a very agreeable way of opening the doors at the touch of a button rather than being forced to condescend to the vulgarity of a stretched arm, and the onboard infotainment and communications system is straight out of a sci-fi movie.

The quality of the computerised ride and handling is of the magic carpet variety yet this modern-day leviathan can snake along mountain passes with the sure-footed composure of an Italian thoroughbred.

Ultimately no other four-seater convertible achieves the same level of near-perfection as the Rolls Royce Dawn, which reinforces the famous words of the company’s founder that ``the quality will remain long after the price is forgotten.’’