A Rolling Tuxedo for the Point One Percent
Every so often, as a professional car reviewer, I get to test a six-figure car—hey, someone’s gotta do it—and there are lots out there, from well-optioned Mercedes-Benz S-Classes, Porsche 911 Cabriolets, and the relatively common Bentley Continental. Alas, I can’t afford any of them myself, but many people, even beyond the proverbial One Percent, can. But when prices climb up over half a million, we’re talking about different animals altogether. These are cars made for the Point One Percent. The leisure set. Guys whose garages are more like closets, chock full of choices; folks who don’t drive their cars as much as they wear their cars. Seen in that light, the $569,600 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Nighthawk Edition—one of nine ever to be made—is the world’s fastest tuxedo.
I say fastest because the V-12-powered Phantom is indeed rather swift, especially considering it weighs as much as a Cadillac Escalade. But like breakdancing in a tux, this massive ragtop is rather unwieldy when making quick moves. Wafting along at low speeds is when the big Roller is at its silent best, gliding along as if on a hydroplane across a smooth sea, thanks to the softest ride of any of the thousands of cars I have tested in 20 years. Like a ground-bound pleasure boat, the Rolls allows air to blow ever so gently through your hair whilst giving its lucky occupants a commanding view of the world from any one of its high-mounted, impossibly cushy thrones. Yet protected by walls as thick as a medieval castle, they may drink in their surroundings without ever feeling susceptible to them.
Conceived to show off what Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke division can do with materials and special paints, the Nighthawk brandishes hectares of carbon fiber, black leather hides with occasional swathes of “Hotspur Red,” and inch-deep sheepskin carpets (take your shoes off before you get in, please). The exterior wears a unique diamond metallic black paint job that’s mostly gloss, but is matte-finished on the hood as well as the grille and windshield frames. The word “dressy” doesn’t even begin to describe this thing.
Hence, arriving in the Nighthawk is like pulling up to the Oscars every place you go, a feeling amplified each time one opens the rear-hinged “coach” doors. This is not a car you take to the mall—that’s what Range Rovers are for—but it is perfectly at home at the theatre, a golf resort, or, say, in front of an historic sound stage like those of the Hollywood Center Studios in Los Angeles, where I took these photos of the car. The Phantom is a car for movie stars, royalty, and high-level VIPs that need to show the world who’s boss when they arrive. And for tasks like that, there may be no car better than this one.
2015 Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe Nighthawk Edition
Base Price: $569,600
Power: 6.7-liter V-12 (453 hp, 531 lb-ft of torque)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy, city/hwy mpg (EPA est): 11/19
Or you could buy:
3 Bentley Continental GT V8s
5 Mercedes-Benz SL550s + 2 Ford Mustang Convertibles
10 Porsche Boxsters