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Whether you are a Buddhist monk or Mother Teresa’s stand-in, you’re overcome by a sense of entitlement when you sit behind the wafer-thin leather wheel of the massive Rolls-Royce Phantom. It can’t be helped.
Give up requests for Grey Poupon and go for Veuve Clicquot. Hear yourself say, “Get out of the way, rabble, don’t you see someone of means, of substance wants through?” Muscle into handicap parking spots and don’t bother to limp getting out. That’s power you deserve.
In a Roller for the weekend you are obligated to encounter serfs, be they at a White Castle or Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. Our proletariat toiled at McDonald’s, and she responded with typical minimum-wage acumen.
Wench: Hey, what kind of car is that?
Lord of the Manor: A Rolls-Royce Phantom. Very expensive.
W: Yeah? In this here mirror it looked all the world like one of them brand-new GM pickup trucks with a big grille!
LotM: Yes, of course it does. Hand me my foie gras and my chalice of Diet Coke and I shall dine in quiet reserve.
Okay, this did not happen; it just feels like it could and you want to talk that way. Remind yourself the Phantom is just a car, a tool to get you from point A to B with a bonnet that’s school bus-long and boasts an oceanfront condo price tag.
Underneath that Phantom bonnet is a spectacular BMW-derived 60-degree V12 delivering 453 hp and an impressive 531 lb-ft at 3500 rpm; tickle the throttle and it comes to life immediately, sprightly pushing every ounce of its 5577-pound curb weight.
Recently the Phantom was dubbed “Best Car in the World” when money is no object. Are you surprised it earned that title from a jingoistic Brit publication? We aren’t, though it is hard not to give the Phantom high praise regardless of its heritage. (As if you need reminding, it is built on the grounds of the Goodwood Manor in southern England by parent company BMW.) The Rolls’ ride is butter, its interior fit-and-finish exemplary, and as one teenager admired as he stood six feet from its window, “There’s a whole forest laid out in there.” His future in automotive journalism hyperbole seems secure.
Still, you must keep reminding yourself it’s just a car. Try to do this as crowds gather at stoplights. Say it again when the neighbor calls at midnight asking for a ride. Remember this as you’re spurred to lock and unlock it repeatedly so the supermarket bag boy can watch the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot dip securely beneath its grille.
Yeah, it’s just a car, with more amenities than a dream home. Does a home boast rear-seat fold-down maple writing desks? Can its doors (rear) close automatically with the touch of a button? Do its optional 21-inch aluminum wheels have a floating center hub that forever keeps the double RR upright even when wheels are in motion? What about umbrellas strategically placed in doorjambs to prevent undo moisture from soiling your taffeta?
Yeah, the Rolls has all that, and more. But what would you expect?
AT A GLANCE:
2006 ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM
ON SALE: Now
AS-TESTED PRICE: $351,100
POWERTRAIN: 6.75-liter, 453-hp, 531-lb-ft V12; rwd, six-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 5577 lbs
0 TO 60 MPH: In due course
FUEL MILEAGE: 15.2 mpg (EPA combined), 14.4 mpg (AW observed)Click here for the slide show