The Spectre of Indulgence
Rolls-Royce's Ghost Series II is automotive art

The Ghost Series II may be the bottom of the company’s range, but that seems almost irrelevant in terms of the experience it offers. It’s still a Rolls-Royce, and as such, it’s worlds beyond just about anything else on the road. The interior is swathed in sumptuous wood and buttery leather (the latter sourced only from bulls raised in mountaintop pastures, far from mosquitoes and barbed wire, which can mar their hides). Chrome accents are plentiful, and plastic virtually nonexistent (you can find it, but you have to really look). The car - pets are of the softest lambswool, and the 18-speaker sound system turns the cabin into a moveable symphony hall. Under the hood thrums a 6.6-litre V12 good for 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. Save for the tsunami-like wave of torque that pushes the car forward when you depress the accelerator, you’d scarcely know that beastly engine was there, so blissfully absent are road noise and vibration. A satellite-aid - ed transmission scans the road ahead for curves and downshifts in anticipation, making for a seamless delivery of power. It also has an advanced infotain - ment system; heated, cooled, massaging seats; and a bevy of other impressive onboard accou - trements, but listing them here seems beside the point. It would be akin to talking about the HVAC system at Falling Water or the paper stock of a Picasso sketch. What it does is entirely secondary to what it is: a state - ment, an indulgence, a reward, and yes, perhaps a work of art, too. It might just be the world’s most practical car you’ll actually want.

A ROLLS-ROYCE ISN’T really a car,” says a company executive at the launch of the 2015 Ghost Series II sedan in Dallas. “You don’t need it.” With a starting price of $286,750, you can’t really argue this point. Nor is this much of a sales pitch. Instead, he says, you need to think of it like investing in artwork. Comparing an automo - bile—even an extremely nice one—to a Rembrandt or a Warhol is a bit of a stretch, but not as much as you might think. Rolls-Royce aims to sell a scant 4,000 vehicles this year, each the result of at least 450 hours of work by a team of 60 craftspeo - ple at the company’s Goodwood, England workshop. Additionally, there’s virtually no such thing as a “stock” Rolls, with the vast majority of buyers customizing their vehicles with everything from bespoke paint colours to hidden humidors to diamonds embedded in the headliner. While Goodwood won’t make any changes that compromise the car’s safety, no other request is too far-fetched. They are in the business of making their customers’ dreams—gaudy, candy-coloured and diamond-encrusted—come to life. A Rolls is the ultimate reward for the successful entrepreneur, admission to an elite club whose members include sultans, sheiks, mag - nates and assorted billionaires. Its customers are used to getting their way, and Rolls-Royce is happy to oblige. 

PRICE: $350,000 (EST.)