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Rolls Owners in Uproar!

6 August 1997

Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief

There has been outrage in Britain over the first new Rolls-Royce in 20 years. Current owners are up in arms over the political correctness of the new model which they have not even seen The car, with a BMW engine, is due for release in late 1999 and is allegedly not as distinctive as the current car. Michael Winner, the film producer, suggested that if they stop making unique and exclusive cars they might as well shut up shop.

Many disagree, your reporter amongst them. Let's face it - there are no alternatives. Yes, BMW and Mercedes do make fine cars but they churn them out by the thousands every day. There are lots and lots of Mercedes taxis, the nearest Rolls gets to being a taxi is at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong . There they send these much admired cars to the airport to collect their clients. Slightly different proposition as room rates start at something like 300 dollars a night..

So sheiks and film stars won't really have an alternative to Rolls Royce for a very long time if ever. The company was established way back just after the turn of the century. To establish this sort of special feeling, this sort of universal recognition is to my mind just about impossible. Right now they are selling something like 1700 cars a year - new boss Graham Morris would like to increase it to well over 2000 units. We have to do something says Morris - captains of industry dare not buy our cars because they are afraid of shareholder backlash. Whether there will be less of a backlash should the car turn out to be less distinctive remains to be seen. Judging from the price-in excess of 150 thousand dollars I would not have thought so.

All will be revealed in two years time.