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 Rolls-Royce and Bentley

Wood: Rolls-Royce and Bentley: Spirit of Excellence

Car of the Month - May 2006
Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, 1998, #WCX01038

Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph

Code-named ‚P3000’ in March 1994 the styling program started headed by Graham Hull for the new Rolls-Royce that was to be launched as Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. After design of outward appearance had been accepted early in 1995 the following months were spent with busy work on designing the interior. By September 1995 the first complete prototype was finished. Graham Hull during the early period of his career had been worked in conjunction with the legendary John Polwhele Blatchley who created icons like Silver Cloud and Silver Shadow. It wasn’t too much of a surprise when the new model showed some styling characteristics that rooted in the design of its predecessors. It was exactly what Rolls-Royce’s clients appreciated – no revolutionary break in design-philosophy.

Graham Hull

Graham Hull himself explained that he had been fascinated when decades ago Blatchley had developed the lines of the Silver Cloud from the imagination of a powerful sea-going boat and had been inspired by elements like primary bow and secondary bow, the cabin’s arrangement, etc. Hull had prepared a large-sized drawing that showed how he had arranged for the Silver Seraph to remain in the bloodline of an unbroken tradition.

There were radical changes of course at the factory where the new model was built. A considerably sum had been invested in modernizing the production-line at Crewe. Most of the machines were new, the workforce trained on a new flexible system, too; the paint shop was up-to-date and all tools and test-equipment were ‘state of the art’.

Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph

Purists didn’t accept easily that under the bonnet there was no powerplant made by Rolls-Royce themselves. The 5.4-litre V12-engine was supplied by BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) – and it was almost exactly the same unit as the one used in BMW’s flagship, at that time a model from their 7-series. Thus salesmen in Rolls-Royce’ worldwide dealer network had a certain problem: To explain the price of ca. 460,000 DM (incl. 16% VAT in Germany, approximately 235,000 EURO) to be fully justified despite the fact that the powerplant was also available in a considerably less expensive motor car from another manufacturer.

Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph

Any such question however faded somewhat in the light of the new development that started at just the time of the Silver Seraph’s launch. VW and BMW fought a fierce battle to take over the English company – and the result of such action was the separation of Bentley and Rolls-Royce who had been under the wings of one parent company for the some 70 years. Production of the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph was axed after a mere four years period. A few Bentley Arnage – almost identical in outward appearance – are still being made, though after a facelift about a year ago the model does show an entirely new front.

Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph

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