Part 6 - By David Marshall-Martin
Here is the next in the series of this great article David has written for our enjoyment.
Picture 25-Silver Spirit, II, III. Between 1980 and 1998 a host of variants of the Silver Spirit and the Silver Spur-the long wheelbase version (see Picture 26)-were built. The look was changed from the Shadow with a new headlight configuration, a reshaped grill and a spring-loaded Spirit of Ecstasy which would sink into the radiator if dislodged. The Silver Spirits continued with the V-8 engine of 6,750 cc. The estimated number of Spirits is around 9,656 built on a 125 inch platform. This is a NEO model.
Picture 26-Silver Spur, II, III. The Silver Spurs were generally four inches longer than the Spirits. However, Rolls-Royce, in conjunction with its in-house coachbuilder, Mulliner Park Ward, produced some touring limousines, with and without divisions. These limousines had an additional 24 inches added to the length. Some Spur limousines, built to a Robert Jankel design, were stretched as much as 42 inches. According to the records available there were 9,483 Silver Spur and Silver Spur limousines built. This is a Classic Model Silver Spur Limousine.
Picture 27-Silver Seraph. The Silver Seraph is the last Rolls-Royce built at Crewe, by VW with an off-the-shelf BMW V-12 engine. It is controversial to say the least. 1,398 Silver Seraphs were built from 1998 to 2001 with an overall length of 212 inches. It was called the Silver Seraph Last of Line during its final two years with special features such as red badges. Approximately 170 were produced. At the same time an extended wheelbase version was available called the Park Ward which added about nine inches. About 127 of these were produced. Scale models of the Silver Seraph are about as rare as the cars themselves. The Franklin Mint had produced a 1/24 scale edition, but I had to search for a long time before I found a standard saloon. EWB models were more commonly available. I eventually obtained this rather poorly hand built 1/43 model of a standard saloon by Paul Model Collectibles.
Picture 28-Phantom. A bit of a refresher course of how Volkswagen A.G. acquired Rolls-Royce. Unfortunately, someone had overlooked who actually owned the name Rolls-Royce and the logos. In 1997, after Vickers announced its intention to sell its Rolls-Royce automobile subsidiary, two German carmakers, Volkswagen AG and BMW AG, submitted rival bids. Although Vickers’s shareholders favoured a purchase by Volkswagen, engine maker Rolls-Royce PLC, which held the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo (under an agreement signed before Vickers took control of the luxury-car maker), supported a sale to BMW. In a novel agreement made the next year, Volkswagen acquired the Rolls-Royce automobile operations from Vickers, while BMW acquired all rights to the name Rolls-Royce with respect to cars. BMW thereupon granted Volkswagen a license to make and sell automobiles under the Rolls-Royce brand until the end of 2002, after which BMW would make cars with the Rolls-Royce name in a new factory to be built at Goodwood, England. Volkswagen, which acquired the original factory in Crewe, England, established Bentley Motor Cars Ltd. as a subsidiary to focus on development of the Bentley car line, which it does to this day.
In 2003 the new Rolls-Royce company released the radically new designed Phantom, which has retrospectively become known as the Phantom VII. The design of the Phantom is probably far more controversial than that of the Camargue or Seraph. This ‘saloon’ is built on a ‘space-age’ aluminium frame with an overall length of 230 inches using a 6.75 litre, V-12 petrol engine. The EWB version added nine inches to the length. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the Phantom is the return to rear hinged ‘coach doors’ for the back doors. Another significant little quirk was the use of independent bezels in the wheel hubs so that the ‘RR’ logo remains upright when the car is in motion. In 2018 the successor, the Phantom VIII, was introduced. Including all the variants over 10,300 vehicles were produced of the Phantom VIIs. This model is by CMR (Classic Model Replicars) of an EWB LHD Phantom VII. Even this fairly reputable company has struggled with the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot which is far too large and very poorly detailed.
By David Marshall-Martin, GSM