Once upon a time, likening a car to a yacht was seen as a snub - few manufacturers wanted their four-wheeled creations compared to lumbering ocean-going vessels, pitching and rolling with very little control. Rolls-Royce think differently.
Since being comprehensively re-launched in 2003 with the undeniably impressive Phantom, the Goodwood-based manufacturer has pursued excellence without compromise; after all, their brand is perhaps the best-known in the world.
When it came to creating an open-topped car, designer Ian Cameron drew inspiration from classic Riva powerboats and J-Class yachts. The resulting 100EX design study was elegance personified, a symphony in leather, teak and aluminium.
After a select few 'customer clinics' around the world, it swiftly became clear that demand was high and the Phantom Drophead Coupé was born. Research suggests that in certain markets, Rolls-Royce owners don't always drive themselves - in the Middle East the numbers drop to just 10 per cent, while in the USA 90 per cent take the helm themselves. The new Phantom Drophead Coupé is not a car to hand over to the chauffeur. Granted, there's ample space in the well-upholstered rear seats, but to delegate the steering is to miss much of what makes this car so special - it breezes along on an invisible carpet of power, with an engine so quiet you can hear the birdsong in the hedgerows.
We love the teak 'deck' that envelops the passenger compartment (don't forget to get it oiled once a year), while the split-level 'picnic' boot makes a handy perch to survey the view. Just 200 Dropheads will leave the factory each year - testament to the incredibly high quality of construction (RR has 100 craftsmen working on wood alone). And rest assured that the company's Bespoke department will be happy to raise the list price with any option of your choosing. 'You can't say no with our clientele,' admits Clive Woolmer, manager of the Bespoke team.