To mark the companys 97 years in the business and 55 years of production in Crewe, England, Rolls Royce is producing a Last of Line series of its Silver Seraph sedan. Only 170 units will be built and will be available with duotone paint in the style used on the Silver Cloud I, the companys first vehicle engineered and built in Crewe.
Hubcaps on the Last of Line sedans will bear the Spirit of Ecstasy symbol, and all badging is in red as was the style on pre-1933 models. Meticulously detailed interiors will be trimmed in Rosewood Burr veneer, one of the densest woods available. A pair of umbrellas in the trunk is meant to suggest that nothing has been left to chance in the production of this most magnificent motorcar.
Beneath the bonnet of each Silver Seraph which is a near-twin to the Bentley Arnage is the same 322-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-12 BMW engine that is used in the BMW 750iL sedan. The five-speed-automatic transmission is also a BMW design. Rolls-Royce also lists a Park Ward limousine version of the Silver Seraph that is 10 inches longer and even more expensive.
Serving as separate members of the same company for many years, Rolls-Royce and Bentley retain their original ownership for the time being, as production continues. But this will change on Jan. 1, 2003, when BMW takes over the management of Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen assumes ownership of Bentley. Until then, the companys current owners will produce, sell and service both marques worldwide.
Rolls-Royce and Bentley sedans differ in exterior details and interior trim but stretch to the same 212-inch overall length and 122.7-inch wheelbase. Overall, the Silver Seraph is a few inches shorter than the Lincoln Town Car, while the Park Ward limousine is 10 inches longer in both dimensions and has wider doors. Silver Seraph buyers get a broad choice of exterior colors and upholstery hues.
Rolls-Royce has claimed that crafting the interior woodwork alone for one of these hand-built motorcars takes some 150 hours. All that effort pays off in giving passengers all the sleekness they can handle, not to mention abundant interior space. Backseat passengers get power seats that automatically move rearward when a door opens and the transmission is in Park, which makes it easier to get out of the car.
A standard navigation system employs global-positioning satellites to help drivers find their way. The system operates with voice commands and uses a 6.5-inch display screen that pops out of the dashboard.
Under the Hood
Built by BMW, the 5.4-liter V-12 engine produces 322 hp and teams with a BMW-supplied five-speed-automatic transmission. Rolls-Royce claims that despite its ample weight, the Silver Seraph can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.