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Rolls-Royce in Chichester
... News from Goodwood - Archive 2003

3 January 2003
RR Phantom   RR Phantom   RR Phantom   RR Phantom

2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom
Photos: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd  
New Rolls-Royce Phantom Unveiled

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited has revealed the all-new Rolls-Royce Phantom today at the company's new manufacturing plant and head office at Goodwood in West Sussex, UK. It is just four and a half years since BMW Group became the custodians of the Rolls-Royce marque for automotive use, in July 1998, and committed to launch a new company, a new plant and a new motor car in January 2003.   For full report click here

New Home at Goodwood

When sites were being considered for the new manufacturing plant and head office, it was established from the start that it should be in Britain - the home of Rolls-Royce - but a number of other factors were taken into account. Chiefly these were to have a large enough site, with good transport links, access to a test track and proximity to a skilled workforce. Also, as many Rolls-Royce customers would wish to visit the plant, it was important that it should be in an attractive part of the country.

Goodwood stood head and shoulders above the other sites under consideration when measured against these criteria.

The Goodwood facility combines the latest in engineering technology with the finest in craftsmanship skills. The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is precision hand-built in a way the automotive industry has never seen before.

Rolls-Royce Goodwood is an inspirational place to work, with extensive use of glass to provide natural light throughout. The buildings blend into the environment and are sympathetic to it, for instance featuring Europe's largest 'living roof'. Thousands of sedum plants not only change colour with the seasons, they also provide insulation to save heating energy in the winter months.

This original and environmentally aware manufacturing plant reflects the theme of uncompromising excellence, which is central to the whole project.

13 February 2003
Rolls-Royce Phantom   Rolls-Royce Phantom
Photos: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd  
Everything is running according to plan for the launch of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom. Production at the Goodwood manufacturing plant in England is ramping up from one to three Phantoms per day. The dealer network is in place and a new 'theatre' configuration is set to debut at the Geneva motor show on 4 March 2003.

Having met all its quality targets, the manufacturing plant can now increase its rate of production to three cars a day. The plant, which is fully operational, produced the first customer car for delivery on 1 January 2003. The Phantoms currently being built are launch motor cars to support dealer activities around the world. The next batch of customer cars will be delivered in April.

A global network of specialist dealers has been appointed, each on merit of their ability to meet the very exacting standards of a Rolls-Royce customer. A total of 70 dealers are expected to be in place by the end of this year.

The new theatre package is based around two separate power operated rear seats and a dedicated DVD based entertainment system. Adjustable monitors are housed in the backrests of the front seats and concealed when not in use.

Goodwood, Chichester - 10 May 2003

Around four hundred invited guests attended the official opening of the new Rolls-Royce Plant in Westhampnett, Chichester. They were warmly greeted at the recently finished main entrance by the Company hierarchy, headed by Chairman Tony Gott.

Drinks and canapés were served before a tour of a small exhibition of R-R memorabilia, much of which came from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club. Guests were shown around the production lines where rows of cars were in the process of manufacture. They could not have failed to be impressed by the layout and immaculate working areas.

After a champagne reception everyone was guided to an enormous marquee for dinner. They sat at tables of eight, each of which was decorated with a centrepiece of beautiful red roses. The meal was a gastronomic experience accompanied by a selection of fine wines and music played by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. Intriguingly, whilst coffee was being served, a spanner and a small square of aluminium (about the size of a coaster) were given to each guest, the significance of which was later to become clear. Cabaret entertainment was provided by the Rambert Dancers, contortionists from Mongolia and Ukrainian Cossak dancers, and had the audience enthralled.

Tony Gott addressed the guests with a truly up-to-date exchange between himself and Sir Henry Royce who 'appeared on screen'. He then asked Lord Montague of Beaulieu to say a few words and officially open the Manufacturing Plant, a role that his father had performed many decades before when declaring open the first Rolls-Royce factory. It was at this stage that the spanners were used to make a lot of noise, which is known as the 'tapping out' ceremony, a tradition from the time when a project was finished by the workers. A dance band then provided the entertainment and many took the opportunity to dance for the rest of the evening.

17-18 May 2003

The Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club Annual South of England Rally was this year held at Goodwood, the new home of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The event comprised three elements held over two days - visits to the new Manufacturing Plant, a Black Tie Dinner and the Sunday Rally. Over eleven hundred members had indicated an interest in visiting the Plant, around four hundred and seventy in the Black Tie Dinner, and over four hundred Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars for the Sunday Rally.

With such a large number of members wishing to visit the Plant Rolls-Royce accommodated six tours on the Saturday and three tours on the Sunday morning. Divided into parties of twenty, members were greeted by RR guides at the entrance and many expressed their appreciation and thanks for the opportunity to tour.

The Black Tie Dinner was held in the Charlton Suite overlooking the track at Goodwood Racecourse with views in the opposite direction to Chichester. Guests from Rolls-Royce included Tony Gott (Chairman), Axel Oesterling (Marketing Director), Dieter Udelhoven (Manufacturing Director), and Fred Fruth (General Manager, Public Affairs). Over coffee Tony Gott gave a brief resume of the current progress of the Company and the Plant.

On the Sunday morning, despite the cold and windy weather, there was soon a steady stream of Club cars arriving. A new Rolls-Royce Phantom was displayed for the day and attracted great interest. The wandering Jazz Band played, braving the stiff breeze, and nearly eight hundred pounds of spare parts changed hands at the Spares Stall. All in all, an enjoyable and successful weekend.

Ted Meachem - Rally Secretary

Rolls-Royces on display Rolls-Royces on display Rolls-Royces on display
Ian Odds' RR Silver Ghost David Evans' RR 20hp
Around four hundred Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars participated. Some of the more colourful entries that brightened the day included
Ian Odds' purple 1914 RR Silver Ghost Double Cabriolet by Barker and David Evans' yellow 1923 RR 20hp Hamshaw Laundaulette.
Graham Benge interviews Fred Fruth   The new Rolls-Royce Phantom
The new Rolls-Royce Phantom attracted a lot of attention throughout the day. Fred Fruth, talking about the new car, was interviewed by
Graham Benge for his SpiritFM motoring programme.
Photos: Ian Burt

18 July 2003

I went to the Rolls-Royce factory near Chichester last week for lunch and a whistle-top tour of the plant. Then came the big shock - I was handed the keys to a spanking new £250,000 Phantom and told: 'Take her away.'

The Phantom is almost 20ft in length and knowing the value of the car - and the fact that it was the only press model - does make one extra careful. It's the same vehicle that Jeremy Clarkson raved about on top Gear and which Car Magazine - the most critical of all motoring publications - said was: 'Like no other.' In a special shoot-out against the Maybach and the Bentley Arnage T it was decreed to deliver the greatest luxury and refinement and the most truly special driving experience.

This is the key to the car - yes it looks imperial, almost majestic, but not everyone likes the front end. Too in your face, say the critics.

You must drive this car to appreciate just what a superb machine it is. It is so composed at low speeds, it moves everywhere with great delicacy and it's almost like a stately home on wheels such is its presence and the lovely subtle cabin. Press your foot on the accelerator though and there is a superlative moment to enjoy.

The Phantom will blast to 62mph in just 5.7 seconds and, for a vehicle with a gross weight of 6,710lbs, this is nothing short of miraculous. The top speed is limited to 149mph - it could do more than 200mph if not restricted - and purring under the bonnet is a 6.75-litre V12 with direct injection and an awesome output of 453bhp. Such is the torque band that all the power is where you most need it, making the car deceptively fast and wonderfully smooth.

The engine has been developed only for the Phantom and will not be used in any other model made by BMW. It will also average more than 25mpg on the extra urban cycle and almost 18mpg on the combined.

Sure, it's made in Germany and, like the enormous body shell, shipped to the Goodwood Estate for assembly but the car is about as British as you can get. And it attracts enormous attention - the A27 had seen nothing the like of it when I headed off to Portsmouth in the Phantom. Dozens gawped, waved, gave the thumbs-up and we even raised a huge smile from a smart driver who succeeded in overtaking us, punching his fist through the roof as he went past!

Personally, I have never driven such a stunningly fine car and I test about 300 different vehicles a year and have been since 1975. That's how good the Phantom is.

Richard Gibbon - Motoring Correspondent

8 September 2003
Following its launch in January 2003 the new Rolls-Royce Phantom is now being seen all over the world. From Belgium to Beijing and from San Francisco to Sydney, the Phantom is appearing in all corners of the globe. A network of dealers is in place, with Phantoms on display in many of the world's major cities.

As promised, the first owner of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom took delivery of his motor car just after midnight on 1 January 2003. The enthusiastic owner decided to immediately take his new motor car on a marathon journey. His Phantom was flown to Australia and then driven from Perth to Sydney - a total journey of 4,564 miles right across the continent. The trip was completed using some of the most remote roads in the world - without a single hitch - and, at one stage, returned a remarkable 23.7 miles per gallon over 580 miles at an average speed of 75 mph.

  RR Phantom in San Francisco
Rolls-Royce Phantom - Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.
Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd.

At the same time the Phantom has been appearing at the world's leading motoring and social events. For example it was present at Concours d'Elegance events at Villa d'Este in Italy, and Greenwich, Cranbrook, Amelia Island and Pebble Beach, all in the USA. It also appeared on the exclusive Cartier Lawn at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and at Royal Ascot this summer.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars' dealer network is almost complete in locations around the world. Special opening and launch events have been held across the USA, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region - most recently in China where there are four dealerships, including Hong Kong.

For transportation to the dealers, rather than use a conventional wax coating, Rolls-Royce has developed a special system. Before dispatch each Phantom is encased in a specially designed, shrink-wrapped protective cover known as a 'transpack'. Zipped openings allow the car to be driven so that it can be loaded onto a specifically designed transporter, for delivery to the nearby seaports to be dispatched worldwide. Phantoms destined for Europe are transported by road using the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone.

17 October 2003
New RR Phantom   The new Rolls-Royce Phantom will make its public debut in Japan at the 37th Tokyo Motor Show on 25 October.

Speaking on the run up to the show, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chairman and CEO, Tony Gott, said; "It is a pleasure to be heading back to Tokyo to present the Phantom to such a loyal and approving audience. Japan has traditionally been a strong market for Rolls-Royce. The discerning Japanese market respects and admires the design and engineering standards, and the principles of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars that are as true and relevant today as they were when the company was founded nearly 100 years ago."

The Rolls-Royce Phantom is manufactured at Goodwood, Chichester. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is part of the BMW Group and opened for business on 1 January this year.

Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd.

22 November 2003

Building site   On a very wet 25 November 2001 five Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club members met with their Club cars on a building site in Westhampnett. These five cars were the first Rolls-Royce motor cars to grace this part of the Goodwood Estate that was to become the Head Office and Manufacturing Plant of the new Rolls-Royce motor car company.
Click here for the full report with enlarged image.

One year later on a very wet 23 November 2002 the 'Famous Five' returned to exactly the same place, this time to quite a different backdrop. Click for report and pictures.

Another year later on a very wet 22 November 2003 the 'Famous Five' returned to the now completed 'building site', this time in the courtyard surrounded by the production buildings and the office (the Pavilion) of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited.

'Famous Five' in front of the main entrance
In the courtyard in front of the main entrance to the Pavilion. Maurice Pitchford kindly provided both of his Club cars, a 1986 Silver Spirit and a 1929 20/25, as the originals were not available. The other three 'originals' were Paul Capper's 1969 Phantom VI, Ted Meachem's 1933 20/25 and Ian Burt's 1974 Silver Shadow. Photos: Ian Burt

Click for panorama of Rolls-Royce head office and manufacturing plant
Click on this picture to see a panorama of the new Rolls-Royce head office and manufacturing plant.

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