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2008 Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe Convertible Review - VIDEO ENHANCED

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Rolls-Royce

SEE ALSO: Rolls-Royce Buyers Guide

Not For the Fish & Chips Crowd


by Marty Bernstein
Special Correspondent
The Auto Channel.Com

Click the PLAY button at the bottom of the page to watch a promo video of the Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupé.

It’s not too often – if ever -- one gets to enjoy the lifestyle of a celebrity, trust fund baby or hedge fund manager … ah, but when you do it is so exhilarating! Along with a select group of automotive writers, journalists, editors and photographers I had the unique experience of being one of the first to drive the new Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupé recently in San Diego.

Life is not just pretty good – it’s very good – when you are either driving or a passenger in this superlative vehicle. Nothing has been overlooked, forgotten or missed in terms of making driving experience effortlessness, enjoyable and exciting.

From the deep colored white – RR has 4 whites in its palate – paint ac-cented with a stainless steel hood and rear teak deck, as in an equally expensive yacht … it’s only magnificent.

Entering is an experience, it’s through “coach doors” the last time I did was in 1960-something Lincoln 4 door convertible. They were called suicide doors back then. The door open, you simply slide your butt into a very comfort-able leather chair. It’s way too nice to be called just a seat. Adjustments are made with buttons or levers in the center console. Oh, to close the door, do it the normal way with you hand or, because it’s a Rolls push a little button on the cor-ner of the dash board – yes, it shuts itself.

There’s a harmonious display of material opulence in front of you. Why it’s the dashboard and instrument panel. Leather, hand rubbed wood, shimmer-ing metal accents. The sun visor is a work of leather artists – if you can, take a look. Truly amazing.

From the moment the start button is pushed, the engine is so quiet it’s damn near impossible to hear the powerful V12 start, but there’s a rush of ex-citement.

Effortlessly slipping the lever into D, one grips a rather skinny wheel, then with some trepidation, insecurity and just a smidgeon of intimidation, press the petrol pedal and move into traffic.

Most journalists I spoke to had one important thought at the very moment: “Oh, my god … I’m driving a vehicle, which fully equipped, carries an MSRP of about $500,000! Half a million bucks. OMG!! But what the hell, we are profes-sionals. Let’s just get going.” Sure. We’re not going to worry about a fender bender. Right.

Point of information: every new car ride and drive has a predetermined route book everyone travels. One drives the other rides and navigates. That said, the white Rolls, with the top down of course, glides into traffic, first a right, then another right, then a hard right onto a Freeway.

The editor of the Rolls-Royce Owners Club magazine, Ralph Vaughn is my ride and drive partner … and he knows a lot about the history, heritage and humor of the brand. And he owns a Roll’s too. Good driver, good companion.

We head toward the hills and desert-like valley Northeast of San Diego over very smooth road surfaces. Not a bump is felt. Smooth. Richard gives the pedal a stomp. Amazingly fast acceleration to the far right part of the speedome-ter dial -- no comment how fast – but its fast. Some wind noise, which is a bit unexpected. Later was told a special windscreen would be forthcoming. Good move.

We wind toward the valley area, through some nice winding roads. The Rolls takes even the sharpest smoothly and really sticks-to-em, and, as the pas-senger, I don’t slide an inch. Nice cornering. Great suspension.

Down into a little valley for our arrival at the town of Julian, California, home of the Julian Bakery – a common mid-stop for all ride and drives because it makes a wonderful apple pie.

Now it’s my turn behind the wheel and we put the top up. Why? Cause I’ll be driving through a direct cousin of Death Valley where temperatures are known to exceed 100°F at 11 a.m. The car is as quiet as a recording studio sound booth. There is no wind noise at 75 or 80 mph, the audio system is so good you’re in the band, and the headliner of the convertible is made of cashmere. That so very classy, expensive, soft and luxurious fabric that feels wonderful in a sweater or sport coat. But cashmere as a headliner in a convertible top. Why? Why not!

Following the flats, I turn west toward the Pacific Ocean and the roads move uphill, with some rather tight lefts and rights overlooking fertile fields, resi-dential neighborhoods, glider hangers and other scenic wonders one finds only in California. A few miles head I spot a red tiled roof of a significant residence or small hotel.

And that’s exactly where the white Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé is going. Off the main road, up a very steep incline and the house is literally on top of the mountain.

Of course it’s a Rolls type of house. It’s a private residence consisting of a huge residence structure, several garages, large courtyard area, manicured, ver-dant landscaped grounds and views almost to the ocean.

The lady of the house tells me, “We had to take down the top of this mountain 15 feet through solid granite so we’d have a full acre and half plot. They had to jackhammer holes to plant the trees.” And this is where we had lunch.

Returning to our hotel was down the “Five” – that’s how Californians call their freeways. Why are they called freeways not expressways? Because there is no toll charge on California’s freeways. Aren’t you glad you asked?

Four smooth, crowed lanes going toward Mexico the other side going to-ward Lalaland. We head down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to downtown San Diego and our luxurious casa for the last night as one of those special peo-ple.

Tomorrow we all return to the real world. But it was a distinct treat and pleasure. One I will recall for a long, long time. When I’m in my rocking chair at the home, I may ask no one in particular, “Did I ever tell you about the time I drove a Rolls-Royce?” They probably won’t believe me either.