Rolls-Royce Ghost | The Brave Pill
Smaller than a Phantom, but still bigger and grander than almost anything else
By Mike Duff / Saturday, September 11, 2021 / Loading comments
There are few certainties when it comes to the critical response received by Brave Pills. Most of our choices trigger varying amounts of love and dislike, other common reactions include bafflement, indifference, and the frequent accusation that a Pill is not risky enough to have earned its brave prefix. Yet some of our choices do seem more popular than others, certainly when it comes to the all-important clicks that keep the lights on and the office biscuit barrel filled with Aldi’s finest generics. Leggy Rolls-Royces have got into the top ten lists of Brave Pills for both 2019 and 2020 on the basis of page views, so let’s see if lightning can strike thrice with this one.
It’s not long since the typical Rolls-Royce duty cycle was less taxing than Monaco. My primary school was located next to the large house of a self-made chap who possessed both a Silver Shadow in period-appropriate two tone brown and a hatred of children. Most mornings the Roller would be backed gently out of the garage and parked on the drive where the owner would run a chamois leather over it – while loudly telling off any small boys drawn to this ostentatious spectacle for having the temerity to look at his car. By the school’s throwing-out time the Shadow would be safely locked away in the garage, clean and safe from prying eyes. Beyond these gentle excursions, I don’t remember ever seeing it leave the property.
Some pre-BMW Rolls-Royces did get more serious use, especially those that ended up busting their humps as wedding cars. But most seem to have lived the life of pampered pets. Even now, 42 years after it left production, only two of the 16 Silver Shadows in the classifieds are being advertised with more than 100,000 miles – and one has covered just 2,900. The BMW-era cars seem to get driven more, but few get close to the 105,000 miles worn by this impressively fresh-looking 2010 Ghost.
The 2003 Phantom VII had launched Rolls-Royce’s BMW era, but it took the arrival of the slightly smaller, substantially cheaper Ghost seven years later to get sales rolling. The new car could only be described as modest when compared to its bigger sister – it was still 5.4 metres long, had suicide hinged rear doors and was powered by a twin-turbocharged V12. In terms of both presence and design it was still undoubtedly a Rolls-Royce.
Yet it was also a BMW. The Ghost sat on the same platform as the F01 BMW 7 Series, and although the PR line was always that only a fifth of components were common to both cars, that list included most of the more important structural and mechanical bits. The relationship wasn’t obvious in the dynamic experience, to be fair, the Ghost being much softer than the 7 Series. The Rolls-Royce had a larger and more powerful 6.6-litre engine making its peak 563hp with all the apparent effort of a butler trimming crusts from a cucumber sandwich. Fully unleashed this motor gave the Ghost a 4.7-second 0-62mph time, making it the fastest factory Rolls-Royce up to that point. But it was far better suited to wafting, the gentle suspension settings and light steering never giving any encouragement to throw it at corners. Or, indeed, straights.
Behind the wall-to-wall timber and leather there were more clues of BMW-ness in the cabin, where the Ghost ran a thinly disguised version of its German parent’s contemporary UI system, this addressed by the same turn-and-click iDrive controller. The Rolls also had clumps of surprisingly plasticky switchgear, some finished in a very unconvincing chrome effect. But the rear of the Ghost’s cabin always felt truly special thanks to those rear hinged doors, ultra-soft leather, and the near universal ticking of the option box for the fold-down walnut picnic tables. Being more space efficient than the Phantom also meant there was a near equal amount of legroom in the back.
When the Ghost was launched Rolls reckoned that 80 per cent of buyers would be new to the brand. That likely turned out to be an under-estimate as demand for ultra-luxury saloons swelled in China and other Asian markets and sales boomed there. This generation of Ghost is the most produced Rolls-Royce model of all time, although that record seems likely to ultimately get nabbed by the Cullinan. Meaning that, by Rolls-Royce standards, there are plenty out there to choose between.
Which probably explains why our Pill is such an outlier. Of the 20 first-generation BMW Ghosts currently in the classifieds our Pill’s £69,995 price tag makes it the cheapest by £15,000, but it also carries an extra 60,000 miles over the second-leggiest. You could argue that the saving being offered doesn’t match the mileage disparity – the comment section awaits your pleasure on that one. But it is hard to look at this one and say it is showing obvious signs of a hard life beyond the suggestion of wear to the driver’s seat bolster. Even if most of the exterior pictures have been taken on an industrial estate.
The seller promises a full service history – with the spicy sounding option of ‘lots of pepper work’ – and although the advert’s word soup lists many features standard to all Ghosts it does show that this one comes with the rear Theatre Pack, which brought individual display screens, and also has individual power operation for the rear pews. The advert also mentioned the Driver Assistance Package which, from memory, brought adaptive cruise, a side-view camera to help nosing out of junctions and a somewhat naggy lane departure warning system. It also has the contrasting silver satin bonnet finish which suits the car particularly well.
The MOT history supports the claimed mileage, but also proves that much of the use seems to have happened early on. The Phantom had covered 37,600 miles by the time of its first MOT in 2013, and had wound on nearly another 17,000 by the time of its next one. It has slowed down a fair bit since then, with fewer than 5,000 miles separating its last three tests. The record is also entirely clean apart from advisories in 2017 for thin brake pads and an oil leak, none of which ever sullied another test.
In terms of mechanical strength there seems little doubt that a well-maintained Ghost should be able to rack up six figures without undue strain. Our Pill might even be lucky enough to find another buyer willing to use it in the manner to which it has clearly become accustomed: 200,000 is the new 100,000, right? The British market in particularly fetishizes low mileage cars, but that doesn’t mean they are better bets than those which have been enjoyed and looked after. Here’s a Ghost you don’t need to be scared of.
See the original advert here
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