The Rolls-Royce Phantom is quite possibly the automobile company’s most enduring model, with a history that stretches back over nearly a full century. It has survived major wars, trudged doggedly through the most difficult of financial hardships, and continued tenaciously on when other companies took of the Rolls-Royce reins. Now, eight generations (technically thirteen since 1936) since its re-release and several versions later this gorgeous luxury super car seemed to still be going strong.
Part of the key to the Phantom’s timeless success has been Rolls-Royce’s ability to design a variety of interesting and stylish versions that compliment the Phantom model perfectly for the generation at hand. Unfortunately, even the company’s knack took a hit when, in 2016, they announced that the Drop head Coupe (more commonly known as the 2-door convertible) would be discontinued when they halted the manufacture of seventh generation models and started building Phantom VIIIs. Now, more than halfway into 2019, it’s easy to see that everything must move forward, and while somewhat painful, there decision was a wise one that was in keeping with automobile technology and its rapid pace when it comes to change.
When it comes to cars, though, it can be quite easy to allow sentimentality take over, and that’s how Rolls-Royce fans responded to the dying of the Drop head. The 2-door convertible version of the Phantom had run a good race, and no one wanted to see it go, even the most modern of fans. So, in tribute to this particular Phantom, we decided to pay homage by dedicating this article to its memory. Let’s go back and take a look at the Phantom Drophead Coupe from its first production year to its last, and see how far it actually came over the passage of time, both aesthetically and mechanically. Even though the great majority of us have never even been in the same room with the real deal, it will be like taking a walk down memory lane with an old friend. We can thank the development of modern photography for that, of course.
The Phantom Drophead Coupe: In the Beginning
If we’re being honest with ourselves, the Drop head really hasn’t been around that long. It’s funny how we can become so attached to a great car, even if we’ve only laid eyes on it in books or on television. Anyway, by the time this particular Phantom model was discontinued only ten years had passed since its introduction at the North American International Auto Show in 2007 at Detroit, Michigan . The 2007 was sort of a cross-breed when it came to both styling and mechanics, as it was basically taken, in bits and pieces, from both the 2004 100EX concept car and the 2003 Phantom. When those ‘parts’ and ideas were all put together, the Phantom Drop head Coupe was the result.
Even though its design wasn’t altogether original to the version itself, the Drop head did manage to do a couple of things to earn a name for itself and carve out a niche in automobile history. First, in 2012 the world got an eyeful of it and more when a handful of Drop head Coupes were used in the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics, and it didn’t stop there. Besides being incredibly attractive and sporty-looking (especially for a car of its class and caliber), it garnered enough attention and managed to sell enough that it was the most expensive model Rolls-Royce in 2015; it carried a price tag of $533,000.
During its lifetime, this Phantom version didn’t do too poorly sales-wise, either. 253 of them were sold around the world during its first year on the market, and one even sold in Naples, Florida that same year to a real estate developer who shelled out $2 million clams when he bought one for charity at the Winter Wine Festival. It didn’t take long for the model to gain the reputation for being one of the most pricey automobiles ever sold, of course.
So, if it did so well why did Rolls-Royce announce the halt in production in 2016? Well, it really had nothing to do with lack of sales or loss of money production-wise for the company. They simply decided that they would cease Drop head production as well as coupe production. But they would then cross the two versions and release a special edition vehicle as something of a tribute to the car; it would be called the Phantom Zenith. Fans of that particular model likely know exactly what vehicle I am referring to. Only fifty Zeniths were made, with some amazing extras that no Rolls-Royce models had before. For example, the trunk would convert into seating for picnicking outdoors and a made-over Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament like none before it. Yep, only fifty of them made and sold in total.
And then the Drop head Coupe era was over.
What Made It Go?
Let’s briefly take a look at some of the car’s specs, bearing in mind that since it was the first Rolls to come out after BMW took over production, it was a car that went faster that the RRs that came before it.
- 6.8 liter V-12 engine
- Measured 221” long by 78” wide by 62” high
- 5, 995 lb. curb weight
- 453 hp
- 21.1 gallon fuel capacity
- Atmospheric induction
- Torque at 531 lb.-ft @ 3,500 rpm (339 kW)
- Premium gasoline only
- 2016 MSRP ranging between $281,218 and $364,598
Wrapping It Up…
And just like that the Phantom Drophead Coupe was gone. A memory; a wisp of smoke or a vapor that didn’t dissipate for nearly ten years. But much like God, Rolls-Royce given, and Rolls-Royce taken away. But they don’t do it without giving us something to remember their finest by…usually. As can be expected, Phantom Drop heads are out there, selling at atrociously high prices, when they can be found. Unfortunately, I won’t be running out to buy one, and it’s likely that most of you out there won’t either. But we can dream, we can gaze at the pictures online or on magazine covers. But before any of us decides to spend $200k+ on one we will likely go out, buy a Chevy, and then take our families jet skiing in Cozumel. Heck, I prefer it that way anyway.
But again, it’s fun to dream.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith