Rolls Royce Reveals Its Ghost Black Badge
Not At The LA Auto Show, But Close By
While the Rolls Royce Motor Company didn’t partake in the LA Auto Show festivities, it did hold its own show across town at the California Yacht Club. LA Car senior writer and California Yacht Club member Zoran J. Segina was on hand to partake at the shadow show in Marina Del Rey.
By Zoran Segina
Wed, Nov 22, 2023 08:31 PM PST
Featured image: Sixteen coats of paint and other vignettes of Rolls Royce are part of the company’s Ghost Black Badge, which can be had in colors other than black.
All images by the author.
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2023 Los Angeles Auto Show
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Sixteen coats of paint. Balancing a one-pound coin on a revving engine. Showing a reserve of power gauge instead of RPMs. Hand painting a four-millimeter-thick line along the side. These vignettes are part of Rolls Royce lore which have made company unique since its 1904 inception. This history is also a challenge to any manufacturer who must marry the tradition with the most advanced technology available.
This week Rolls Royce Motor Company brought three 2024 Ghost Black Badge models to the California Yacht Club and invited club members to test them. While a ten-minute zip around Marina Del Rey cannot qualify as a proper test drive, it offered an idea of what these beauties can do.
Entering the Ghost passenger space is a voyage into bespoke manufacturing, motor cars instead of automobiles and high-sided vehicles instead of SUVs. (Cullinan is selling well.) Perfectly balanced heavy doors open at the push of a button on the handle (if outside) or the center console and C pillar (if inside.) The leather covered steering wheel houses multiple controls and is designed as much for the owner’s enjoyment as for the liveried driver.
Touch the start-stop button on the lower left and the 6.7-liter engine awakens with a whisper. Shifting into drive (I activated windshield wipers first – the stalks are bunched together) turns on both the rear view and the birds-eye view cameras lest the 212-inch frame be steered too close to a concrete curb around the eucalyptus tree in front of the main entrance.
I did feel the road - the low profile (285/35 R 21) Pirelli Zeros and the superb German engineering made sure I would. The Ghost sensors evaluate the road ahead and correspondingly adjust the hydraulic dampers. But the Black Badge all-wheel drive chassis is performance oriented, including a discrete button on the shifter that tightens the engine mapping to squeeze more oomph from the already flawless V12 in the front.
The best way to describe my drive - I could sense the bumps in the road but could care less knowing they were a design feature rather than a manufacturing oversight. When driving the Ghost, most people don’t realize they speed because the insulation makes the interior serenely quiet. Thus, the heads-up display showing the actual speed and the posted speed limit.
Light morning traffic on the Admiralty Way suddenly left the road open. I jammed gas pedal deep into the lambswool carpet, the reserve of power gauge moved ever so slightly, and the two-and a half ton sedan sprung forward. When we turned too fast onto the Fiji Way, the Ghost swayed but remained firmly sure-footed as one would expect. Massive breaks instill comfort when stopping hard.
While this ordeal left the interior noiseless, I felt guilty because torturing this magnificent machine seemed so inappropriate. Yes, the Ghost can reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, and exceed 152 mph, but all that power merely reassures the driver it is available if ever needed. A true gentleman should exercise restraint and avoid wanton display of his strength.
The Ghost interior exudes discrete luxury. Center console with an analog clock is clad in carbon fiber or matte wood finish. Seats are covered in rich embossed leather. Most controls are solid stainless steel. A mechanical lever opens the vents while sliding a disc toward red or blue adjusts the temperature.
A sense of old-world craftsmanship permeates the cabin. On the other hand, the electronic display rotary control is the most intuitive and the Shooting Star headliner glitters in celestial display through advanced LED technology. A customer specifies the constellation. In trying to adjust outside rearview mirrors I collapsed them because the buttons are close to each other.
Is spending half a million dollars on an automobile excessive? Rolls Royce tries to justify it in a film depicting manufacturing phases in its Goodwood facility. The 75-minute presentation offers no commentary as the camera follows workers handling different parts of the car – cutting leather, polishing wood, assembling seats, installing brakes, painting. . . . There are many close-ups of workers’ hands caressing different pieces looking for imperfections in seemingly flawless surfaces.
The movie reiterates that, however advanced, no machine can ever replace a feel of a master craftsman hand. One brief scene shows a young worker cutting off a fraction of an inch of excess leather on the inside of a door panel. Nobody could ever see the flaw unless the door was disassembled. And yet, one realizes that this man would do the same whether the cameras are around or not.
A discerning customer looking for a car – having been fortunate to disregard the price - needs reassurance that the obtained product is the best available. In our world of rapid assembly lines, global supply chain issues, and rushed production schedules - governed by artificial intelligence often more artificial than intelligent - this is a tall order. When building something as complex as a motor car, details are easily overlooked.
There were times when our customer could select among array of the cars built as meticulously as Rolls Royce. But the Duesenbergs, Austro-Daimlers, Delahayes, Bugattis and so many others are no more.
So, our customer is likely to end up with the Ghost because it insulates its owners from the vagaries of our imperfect automotive world, obsessed with profit rather than quality. This motor car comes as close to perfection as possible - a peace of mind clad in a mid six figures bespoke transportation device.
Name of Vehicle: 2024 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
Configuration: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4- or 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Price: Base: $442,700
Engine: Twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 48-valve V-12, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 412 in3, 6749 cm3
Power: 591 hp @ 5250 rpm
Torque: 664 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 129.7 in
Length: 218.8 in
Width: 77.9 in
Height: 61.9 in
Trunk Volume: 18 ft3
Curb Weight: 5489 lb
Performance (manufacturer’s estimate)
60 mph: 4.2 sec
100 mph: 10.3 sec
Top Speed: 155 mph
EPA Fuel Economy
Combined/City/Highway: 14/12/19 mpg
About The Author
Zoran Segina grew up in Eastern Europe, where he owned several Zastava 750s (a variation of the Fiat 600) and participated in local rallies. After a lengthy diet of Yugoslav-manufactured cars, he came to the Mecca of automotive culture – wherein he promptly lost his heart to a tall girl and a short Dart Swinger. He currently commutes around LA in a BMW 633Csi, having made a switch from a Volvo 240 DL with a quarter million miles on the odometer.