National Geographic Channel

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MEGA FACTORIES: ROLLS-ROYCE

In 1906, Rolls-Royce introduced its first car, the Silver Ghost. After a record-breaking 24,000 kilometre non-stop endurance run, it earned the reputation as the best car in the world. Just over 7,000 Silver Ghosts were built.

Approximately 65 percent of all Rolls-Royce motorcars ever built are still on the road today.

Rolls-Royce was acquired by the British Conglomerate Vickers in 1980 and then purchased by BMW in 1998. BMW built a new, dedicated Rolls-Royce factory in Goodwood, England. The plant itself was designed to be energy efficient, eco-friendly and benefit manufacturing at the same time.

The Phantom was introduced in 2003 as the first incarnation of the new generation of Rolls-Royce motorcars. It comes in 44,000 colours.

Every Rolls-Royce Phantom begins in Unterhallerau, Germany where over 200 sections of extruded aluminium and 300 alloy parts are welded together by hand.  The Phantom has the largest all-aluminium space-frame car chassis ever made. In order to prevent the welding heat from distorting the roof, a team of two metal workers must weld both sides of the roof in complete unison. This 40-centimetre weld is the one of the longest continual aluminium welds in the auto industry.

It takes at least two months to construct each Phantom.

Every Rolls-Royce Phantom comes with Teflon-coated, hide-away umbrellas that are built into the doors and pop out with the touch of a button.

The Phantom has a mammoth V-12 capable of hauling its two-and-a-half tons from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in just 5.9 seconds. The Phantom’s low end torque allows it to pull away from a stop in 2nd gear, adding to a feeling of effortless acceleration, or “wafting” as Rolls-Royce calls it.

The iconic hood ornament is called, “The Spirit of Ecstasy” and was commissioned in 1911 and sculpted by celebrated artist, Charles Sykes. It has graced every Rolls-Royce since then. Today, the Spirit of Ecstasy is mounted on a mechanism that retracts the ornament into the grille by remote control or automatically in the event of a collision. 

A phantom interior requires an average of 75 square metres or 18 hides of natural grain leather. It takes the leather shop 17 days to complete a full-upholstered interior.

The “coach line” is a contrasting pinstripe along the shoulder of the car. There are no robots or machines used to paint the coach line on a Rolls-Royce. Each coach line is painted freehand by painter, Mark Court. It takes him three hours to paint each coach line.
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