Dawn of an Era
Rolls-Royce’s latest convertible signals the arrival of a new day for the venerable marque.
Since launching the Phantom in 1925, Rolls-Royce has bestowed menacing and otherworldly names on its models: Ghost, Spirit, Seraph, Wraith. None is warm and fuzzy; each confers gravitas. Now comes the Dawn, a two-door, four-seat luxury convertible—or rather a drophead coupé, as it is called in England, where a hood is a bonnet, a canvas top is a hood, and a trunk is a boot.
Though the model is anything but a lightweight—figuratively and literally, at 5,644 pounds unladen—its name evokes the promise of a bright new day for the marque and all those on board. Things are a bit lighter and sunnier, and maybe even a bit naughty; Rolls-Royce’s marketing material refers to the “early-day chill of dawn [causing] an erotic tingle on the skin” and calls the car “the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built.”
Such words may have company founders Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce spinning in their book-matched, burl-veneered pine boxes, but they are not outrageous in 2015—not when one considers the marque’s younger clientele and the fact that the car is designed to be a very “engaging” Rolls-Royce. The Dawn offers a glimpse of the new mind-set taking hold at a company sometimes uncharitably regarded as the most serious and hidebound of luxury carmakers. The soon-to-be six-model lineup is distinctly bifurcated, with the stalwart Phantom Series II sedan, coupe, and convertible holding a stiff upper lip, while a more athletic Ghost Series II four-door is accompanied by the even sportier Wraith grand tourer, its unruly kid brother. The Dawn, which Rolls-Royce expects to begin delivering in April with a starting price of $325,000, joins the latter group.
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