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Car and Driver: Whitewall Wonders: Rolls-Royce Phantom Zenith Coupe, Convertible Detailed


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We can appreciate the finer details of a special-edition Rolls-Royce, whether they be gender-specific custom stowage compartments in the doors, a silk-embroidered headliner, or in the case of the Phantom Zenith Collection—the very last two-door Phantoms—whitewall tires.



Now that factory wheels occasionally sport contrasting rim colors, we’d forgotten all about whitewall tires. But here they are, Goodyear Eagles with thin white bands wrapped around polished black 21-inch wheels, the modern equivalent of a 1930s Phantom II. Or a 1970s Lincoln Town Car. Either way, it’s a statement few luxury cars care to make these days.




The Zenith cars, available as a Phantom Coupe or the softtop Phantom Drophead Coupe, have already been claimed by 50 people for what can only be well north of a half-million dollars. That sum buys not only whitewalls, but several other distinctive features.


The exterior paint, be it the dark Madiera Red shown here or Nicki Minaj Pink, is topped with an even-glossier-than-usual clearcoat that Rolls-Royce calls “glass.” At the back of both door armrests are metal plates with laser-etched maps, one marking the Rolls factory in Goodwood, England, and another depicting either Geneva, Switzerland or Villa D’Este, in Italy.




Why those two places? This is pure automotive-journalist trivia—something we’d also forgotten—but the 100EX (Phantom coupe) concept debuted in 2004 at the Concorso d’Eleganza in Villa d’Este, while the 101EX (Phantom convertible) concept bowed at the Geneva auto show in 2006. Both were thinly disguised previews to the production cars that came out in 2007 and 2008, respectively. That’s the official explanation. There’s also the fact that both are pretty places most Rolls-Royce owners have visited dozens of times.




Out back, the Zenith cars have a fold-out tailgate that comes with a padded leather saddle and a new pop-out glass shelf for topping off glasses of Champagne—that’s with a capital “C” for the genuine drink sourced from the French Champagne region, not the Korbel from the liquor stores we frequent. Since those whitewall tires are run-flats, Rolls-Royce figures owners won’t need a spare, so in its place under the trunk floor is a refrigerator for two bottles of Dom and a case for eight flutes and other beverage accessories. (In the event of a flat, the owner would probably be choppered out while a staff member attended to the car.)




Inside, the Starlight headliner has more light beaming over the front passengers than the rear, and in the burgundy coupe, the leather seats are darker in the rear than the front. On the white Drophead Coupe pictured, the front seats are black with the rear bench and front seatbacks upholstered in white. No matter what color combination, the Zenith cars carry the industry’s fanciest VIN plate inside their center-console drawer. A removable aluminum box encased in a high-gloss wood finish called Best English Blacking proudly shows the VIN and holds a hunk of leftover metal from the Goodwood assembly plant. Map coordinates pinpoint exactly where Rolls found the metal, which we presume to be steel. Steel is used also as the face of the speedometer dial, and all of the instrument needles have orange tips. The front cupholders are solid aluminum and look rather tight, although we imagine a Fiji water bottle will fit.




Unless someone cancels their order, you can’t buy a Zenith. But it’s nice to know that Rolls is giving the Phantom a proper sendoff. A new one comes out next year, but it will be a four-door only—coupe and convertible buyers will have to content themselves with the Wraith and the Dawn. If they’re not quite fabulous enough, might we suggest a set of whitewalls?


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