Rolls-Royce is doing something different this year for the Los Angeles Auto Show. Instead of shuffling against the riff-raff at the convention center like everyone else, they’re holding an invite-only viewing of their cars at a private villa in the Hollywood Hills.
“It’s more befitting of our brand,” Rolls CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told me. He spent two hours on the auto show floor yesterday, then quickly retreated to the house. I don’t blame him–salmon and champagne awaited there, along with a fog-shrouded view from atop the hill and a handful of Ghosts and Phantoms available for driving through the mist. It was all so approrpriately British.
“We called God to arrange the fog,” one assistant joked. They might as well have – it looked amazing against the pewter Ghost I took there and made the dolphin color of the special-edition Phantom Aviator Coupe even more alluring.
This is indeed a special car. It was developed in honor of Charles Rolls, an aviation pioneer who flew extensively with the Wright brothers and tragically was the first person in the United Kingdom to die in a plane crash. Every design aspect, from the Art Deco lighting inside to the desing of the door–the side mirrors are located on the door itself rather than the body of the car, for unimpeded entry–is so carefully considered that being around the car requires no consideration at all.
Pricing on the Aviator series runs near half a million dollars, thanks to more than $60,000 in upgrades on top of the roughly $440,000 base price of the Phantom coupe. Notable additions include aircraft-grade steel, pure-leather floorboards rimmed in aluminum, commemorative badging, in-door umbrellas and cigarette trays, and a “picnic boot” fit for a King on the hunt.
Also of note is the starry-night ceiling, complete with dimming capability that will make the lights bright enough for reading or low enough for dozing in the back seat.
All told, 35 of these were made, and the one on camera above is the last of the lot. Müller-Ötvös says Rolls-Royce cars are impulse buys–this does a lot to explain why.