THE ITALIAN JOB

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Published on August 07, 2014 with No Comments

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The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe makes a big splash.

On the morning of 1 September 1937, at the height of the battle between the United States and Great Britain to be the fastest nation on water, British speed record pioneer Sir Malcolm Campbell headed out onto the calm blue waters of Lake Maggiore on the Swiss Italian frontier. Pointing the nose of his Bluebird K3 hydroplane boat south, powered by Rolls-Royce’s R-engine, he established a new water-speed record of 126.32mph. The following day he went one better, piloting his craft to 129.5mph, emphatically breaking the United States’ five-year stranglehold on the world waterspeed record. Campbell’s momentous achievement captured the world’s attention and reaffirmed Rolls-Royce R-engines’ record-breaking superiority after triumphs on land and in the air.

Celebrating this incredible act of British ‘Derring-Do’, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bespoke department has created the Waterspeed Collection, 35 specially designed Phantom Drophead Coupes. Echoing the cutting-edge technology employed in the construction of the K3, only the finest contemporary materials have been used to furnish the Waterspeed Collection. Brushed steel perfectly complements an exclusively developed Maggiore Blue colour scheme. Perfectly book-matched open-grain Abachi wood veneer evokes the sense of a boat effortlessly gliding through water at pace, whilst the exterior coachline and laser etchings inside the car bring Campbell’s ‘Bluebird’ motif back to life.

The Rolls-Royce Waterspeed Collection is best described as the meeting of the power of nature and the power created by man. The calm surface and blue waters of the 42 mile long Lake Maggiore – the second largest lake in Italy – belie the power that created this Alpine fissure, whilst the legendary 2,300bhp 36.5-litre V12 Rolls-Royce R aero engine that rent its surface as Sir Malcolm set his water-speed record were the designer’s key influences. The final piece of the puzzle was the original concept for the Phantom Drophead Coupe – to “bring the outside in” by creating a social space enabling occupants to embrace the elements using sumptuous and relevant materials. Waterspeed is the most radical interpretation of this approach to date.

The Maggiore Blue colour scheme, specially created by Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke team, flows like water over all the surfaces of Waterspeed, outside and in. It adorns the boat-like lines of the Phantom Drophead Coupe’s exterior – the closest of any car design to the classic Riva speedboats influenced by Pietro Riva’s earliest designs, themselves created in the Italian Lakes – and extends to the blue highlights on the 21-inch alloy wheels. A new imagining of a Bluebird logo has also been designed by the Bespoke team at Goodwood and becomes part of the coachline that adorns the sides of Waterspeed in a contrasting blue.

Maggiore Blue also permeates the interior of Waterspeed. Rolls-Royce Motor Car’s first ever two-tone steering wheel is enrobed in the blue leather, as are highlights around the cabin such as the piping on the seats, dashboard top, cup holder surround and door accents. In addition, Maggiore Blue also brings a new twist to the famous power reserve gauge, another of those trademark Rolls-Royce design cues that raises a smile as it casually reveals the enormous power potential at a driver’s disposal. Blue accents on Waterspeed’s power reserve gauge invite the driver to go ‘into the blue’ as Sir Malcolm Campbell did many times in pursuit of his world speed records.

Contrasting the water-like flow of this vivid blue hue around the car is the viscous ebb of metal surfaces. Brushed steel bonnet, windscreen A-frame, cockpit surround and rear deck, as well as interior features, evoke both the sometimes steel grey skies over Lake Maggiore experienced by Campbell’s crew in those September days on the eve of war, but also the shocking modernity a craft such as K3 brought to the early 20th century. Inside Phantom Drophead Coupe Waterspeed, the aluminium dashboard fascia, laser-etched door armrest cappings, aluminium transmission tunnel and centre console, ‘Windchill Grey’ leather upholstery and polished aluminium cupholders evoke the modernity of this endeavour and further highlight the capabilities of the Bespoke team at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood. Finally, bookmatched Abachi wood veneer beneath the fascia on the dashboard evokes the sense of a boat effortlessly gliding through water at pace.

Phantom Drophead Coupe has been carefully crafted to be aesthetically pleasing, yet practical too. It offers owners an unparalleled convertible experience, combining compelling driveability with exceptional engineering, technology and design – hand crafted from the finest materials to an exceptional level of quality.

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