RREC Central Southern Section

25 November 2015
Dine and Drive
Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd
  There I was on a Wednesday morning, at home, when the telephone rang at about eleven. It was Katie from 'Last Minute.com'. "Would we like to join them this afternoon for a Drive and Dine experience?" Yes OK. "A Goodwood Phantom will pick you up at 3.30pm and take you to a (swish) hotel in the New Forest for dinner and an overnight stay. At 8.30am the following morning a Phantom will take you to the Home of Rolls-Royce for a behind the scenes VIP Factory Tour. Following this you will be chauffeured to Thorney Island where you will have the chance to get behind the wheel to explore the driving dynamics and technology of both Ghost and Wraith guided by one of our dedicated Rolls-Royce product experts."

Thorney Island is the headquarters of the 12th Regiment of the Royal Artillery and boasts a mile long runway. "Following the driving experience you will be chauffeured to The Goodwood Kennels where the Head Chef has designed a delightful three course meal using fresh produce from the famous estate. The day is scheduled to close around 3pm and your driver will be on hand to chauffeur you back home."

Just before 3.30pm a chauffeur-driven shiny black Goodwood EWB Phantom arrived and we were ushered into its sumptuous lounge-like proportions and taken on a 'magic carpet-like' ride to the New Forest. An informal drinks reception was followed by a very nice meal, and so to bed.

The following morning a chauffeur-driven shiny anthracite EWB Phantom carried (née wafted) us to the Head Office and Manufacturing Plant at Goodwood. Refreshments were served in the Studio and we were treated to a 'Reveal' of a stunning Wraith with all the bells and whistles in attendance. After a short conducted tour of the manufacturing floor we returned to our Phantom and were taken to Thorney Island, passing through the military checkpoint.

On the mile long runway we transferred to a Ghost and our chauffeur demonstrated two examples of emergency lane swerving through a series of cones. Then it was our turn to drive under instruction. We went through both examples but with the cruise control set at 35mph and no feet on pedals! Quite demanding but also exciting.

The next exercise was a standing start taking the motor car up to 100 miles per hour, braking hard and coming to a dead stop. The runway surface was dry but there was quite a sensation when the ABS cut in, and the motor car came to a halt in an absolutely straight line.

From the end of the runway we trundled around the perimeter road and back to the start point. We changed over to a new Wraith and repeated the first exercises. The Wraith has an eight speed automatic gear box and normally the motor car moves off in second gear, however if you want to use all of the 600 plus brake horse power you can manually engage first gear at the start and then the automatic box takes over. Our chauffeur was keen to demonstrate the power and speed of the model and so from the standing start encouraged us to 'floor' the accelerator pedal. This took the Wraith up to in excess of 150 miles per hour in 15 or 16 seconds and then some gentle braking before the runway run out. It proved to be perfectly safe, extremely exhilarating and probably a once in a lifetime experience. We made our way back to the Kennels at a much more sedate pace!

An incredible twenty-four hours and we are most grateful to the Private Office of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars for the invitation to join them.