I Owned A Rolls-Royce Phantom for 72 Hours
The first thing you’ll notice about the 2014 Rolls-Royce Phantom isn't the weighty suicide doors, the hidden stainless steel umbrellas, or the maritime grade wood finish draped around the cabin. It's not the massive steering wheel, or the 22-inch rims whose hubcaps keep the logo perfectly centered at highway speeds, either.
It’s the rugs.
You’ll likely be wearing shoes when you first set foot in the Phantom—wise choice, considering you’ll be coming from polo-field grass, which would stain your socks. Even still, through your loafers, you’ll feel how incredible this lambswool carpet really is. Think we’re kidding? Rolls-Royce knows how good it is—in fact, they’ve actually begun selling it for your home.
Last week, I spent roughly 72 hours chauffeuring friends on a journey from NYC to Newport, Rhode Island—a minimum six-hour drive, even in the best of East Coast traffic scenarios. Each one of them, without fail, lost their minds over the carpet.
Whoa, dude, you see this carpet?
Yes, dudes. Yes I did. Please put your shoes back on.
Like all great gateway drugs, the lambswool rugs were just the tip of the iceberg.
The stereo, for one, was sublimely deafening—just one tick on the dial amplified Morris Day and The Time to levels I imagine were only rivaled by the way it sounded in Prince's head back in the early '80s. To access the screen, you push a button on the dash, flipping the analog clock over to reveal a late model BMW-supplied entertainment unit. Very Bond.
The controls? Tucked away in a similarly stealthy wood and stainless steel compartment below the center arm rest.
Slightly less Bond, but no less baller, is the amount of legroom your passengers get to enjoy on even the “short” wheel base model. NBA friendly, to say the least.
The dashboard is a masterclass in British restraint and German minimalism. You’ll only find three display dials, one of which simply says “power reserve,” which we found to be one of the most presumptuous—yet awesome—ways to flee the country club after a $100-a-hole round of 18 gone awry.
Fun fact: nowhere on the Phantom’s dash will you find an indication of what gear you’re in beyond 'Neutral', 'Park', and 'Drive'. By the time you realize this, you won't possibly be able to care any less.
At night, you’ll find, is when the car reveals itself to be a true panty-dropper: the rear headliner gradually transforms into a speckled LED light constellation, arranged into the exact formation that was overhead at Rolls HQ on January 1st, 2003, when the first Phantom floated off the production line.
Think about that for a second.
It’s that very attention to detail that turned the average, everyday activities of a beach weekend (picking up cases of rosé, picking up more cases of rosé) into extraordinary activities. Where "Just running to the store, anyone need anything?” turns straight into the boarding of a private jet, where you’re captain, stewardess, and DJ all rolled into one.
But for all its grandeur, all its surprises, and even that brilliant automated hood ornament, the rugs are what I come away thinking most about. Maybe that's how they design it, those evil geniuses; they know exactly how to subtly grab your attention and hold onto it for a lifetime.
I give up, Rolls. You win. So as part of my admiration/hypnosis, here, world, are several more photos below for your gawking pleasure, if only so we can hang on to this feeling together just a bit longer.
Ted Gushue is the executive editor of Supercompressor. He started at the bottom and then he drove Rolls-Royce. But then he had to give it back. Now he's on the L train. It's been an up-and-down journey.