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Drophead gorgeous: New Roller flagship hits Oz

All class: The Drophead sits at the top of the Rolls-Royce range.

Rolls-Royce convertible arrives in Australia with a $1.19 million pricetag

7 Sep 2007

ROLLS-ROYCE Royce has launched the ultimate convertible in Australia, priced at $1.19 million. The first Australian Phantom Drophead Coupe was delivered to a Sydney businessman this week.

Rolls-Royce’s Australian importer, Trivett Classic, has had no problem finding new owners for the imposing cruiser and has already taken 11 orders.

Only six of those cars will be delivered this year, while Trivett Classic is currently negotiating to secure more Drophead convertibles to be built in 2008.

The Drophead sits at the top of the Rolls-Royce range, above the $915,000 Phantom and the $1.095 million extended-wheelbase Phantom.

GoAuto was given an exclusive preview of the Drophead convertible in Melbourne yesterday.

The Drophead was first previewed with the 100EX concept car of 2004.

Subsequent reaction to the show car and strong sales of the Phantom sedan led to the approval of the project and the rapid development of the production vehicle.

The production Drophead is built off the same platform as the regular Phantom sedan, although it is 225mm shorter.

It employs 1300 unique parts, but does share the same mighty 6.8-litre V12 which belts out 338kW and 720Nm.

The body-structure reinforcements needed to make the roofless Rolls as rigid as possible mean the Drophead is 70kg heavier than the Phantom sedan for a grand total of 2620kg.

Despite this bulk, the big Rolls can rush from 0-100km/h in just 5.9 seconds, just 0.1 seconds slower than the regular Phantom.

Unlike its sibling, the convertible is a two-door. These “coach” doors open in the opposite direction to normal doors.

According to Rolls-Royce, the Drophead has the largest convertible roof in the world.

It is made from five layers of fabric and folds down in 25 seconds.

Rolls-Royce opted for a fabric roof over a metal-folding lid for several reasons including space, weight and storage issues that would have affected the design of the vehicle.

There was also another reason, said Rolls Royce chief-designer, Ian Cameron.

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“There is nothing more romantic than drive a convertible in the rain at night and hearing the drops hit the roof. In conversation with customers, we realised that they feel the same,” he said.

Using a fabric roof means the Drophead still maintains a reasonably healthy bootspace of 315 litres, down from 460 litres.

That means it can fit three sets of golf clubs rather than four.

The rear edge of the boot folds down, just like a ute tailgate, forming a platform for owners to sit on.

Rolls-Royce calls this a picnic boot.

The Drophead’s interior is much the same as the Phantom, with a forest of wood-grain panels and an full herd of leather trimmed surfaces.

It seats four people in comfort and there is a surprising amount of space for rear passengers with more than enough legroom to make this car a truly comfortable four-seater.

A special sound system has been designed for the convertible featuring no less than 15 speakers.

It also comes standard with two Rolls-Royce umbrellas with carbon-fibre rods. These are actually stored inside the car’s front quarter panels in holes that are exposed when you open the rear hinged doors.

“They cost $1000 US to replace, so you wouldn’t go and leave them behind at a party,” said Trivett's general manager Bevin Clayton.

Just like the concept car, the Drophead features a striking stainless steel bonnet.

It also uses a rear teak deck to house the retracted roof. Rolls-Royce designers drew these two elements from racing yachts of the 1930s.

Both the teak decking and stainless steel finish bonnet are available together as a $13,000 option. However, at this stage all cars are being produced with both features whether them owner selects them or not.

Other unique design elements of the Drophead include a redesigned front-end.

The massive vertical bar grille still takes pride of place and the Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet emblem is also in its traditional spot, but the headlights are different.

The regular Phantom has large rectangular lights and two circular lights that look like foglights.

In reality, the rectangular lights are actually just parking lights as the round “foglights” operate as the headlights.

For the Drophead, designers ditched the traditional-looking rectangular lights and made more of a feature of the circular lights.

They are punctuated by two LED ‘eyebrow’ strips.

It is a bold look and the car will stand-out in traffic even more than a regular Phantom.

Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director, Colin Kelly, said the Drophead would appeal to customers who didn’t mind drawing attention to themselves.

“It is for successful people who are confident and don’t mind people looking at them,” he said.

“You are certainly going to be noticed, it’s not the kind of car you drive if you are in a witness protection program.”

Read more:

First look: Flip-top Roller close to 100EX

The Road to Recovery podcast series

GoAuto can help you buy a new Phantom

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