Rolls-Royce Phantom | Spotted

You can buy a used Phantom for almost nothing (comparatively speaking). Should you?

By John Howell / Tuesday, 24 May 2022 / Loading comments

I’ve always been a Phantom man. Not in the sense that I am a figment of the imagination or that I pass through the walls of stately homes giving residents the heebie-jeebies. I mean in the Rolls-Royce sense. However, I was going to write something about the Maybach 57 I spotted for £50-odd thousand, just to be different I guess, but then I thought I’d check the price of Roll-Royce Phantoms as a comparison, and saw this. And, well, I just had to run with it instead. It’s unarguably the better model, so you’d have to have lost your mind – or keeping with the spectre theme, be Nearly Headless Nick – not to buy it instead.

It also got me thinking about the broader question of BMW’s design philosophy. It’s fair to say that the styling of BMW’s core cars is currently controversial: the M3’s grille; the new 7 Series’… err, everything. What’s coming out of Munich right now is raising more eyebrows than Roger Moore. And yet, when it came to reinventing brands around the dawn of the current millennium – when retro was ripe – BMW was the master. Admittedly, the Rover 75 was a bit too much of a pipe-and-slippers pastiche, but they got the Range Rover L322 bang on, in respect of repackaging the old with the new, and the same was true of the Phantom VII.

The car managed that trick of subtly blending the cues of the past with discrete modernity. This meant there was absolutely no mistaking it for anything other than a Rolls-Royce, and yet it came with all the modern trimmings. Now, as much as I love the SZ series cars and the Seraph, they couldn’t really claim to honour to that old boast of ‘Simply the best motor car in the world.’ The Phantom VII, on the other hand, could. It was. So much so that it floored Mercedes’ attempt to wow the very well-heeled with its relaunched Maybach brand from the moment it appeared.

The Phantom was, and is, everything a Roll-Royce should be: big and imposing on the road; spacious and trimmed opulently inside. Despite being blunt edged, it carried a discernible grace. Just look at the manner in which its body grows in stature as you move from its slightly stubby tail to its long and substantial bonnet. It’s the same sort of visual crescendo that comes across when looking at the impossibly graceful Type 41 Bugatti Royale.

Once you enter the luxurious world within, that sense of ‘20s style continues. Indeed, the Phantom VII is a work of art inside. I just adore the styling cues of its Bakelite-look, thin-rimmed steering wheel. And what about its stacked and substantial dashboard, with rich burr walnut veneers and exquisite marquetry, which is reminiscent of the very best Art Deco side boards. Fantastic stuff. As are the elements that hark back to Rolls-Royces of old: the beautifully classic white on black dials; the light switch panel that could have been plucked straight from a Shadow I; the bullseye air vents and their organ-stop controls. It’s all so perfectly executed.

Yet, in among all this sumptuousness sat enough technology that meant you wanted for nothing in comparison to the gaudy Maybach. The Phantom came with the latest iDrive infotainment system, although the controls and display were only on show when needed. It had soft-close doors, five-zone climate control, 18-way power-adjustable front seats and 16-way adjustable seats in rear. And what enticing seats they are when viewed through an open suicide door. The cosseting, wingback design and oversized C-pillars, offering shelter from the outside world, just make it impossible not to want to dive in, like Alice in Wonderland, and experience them in a way that the back of a Maybach just doesn’t.  

Powering this monster is a wonderfully monstrous engine. The N73 V12 is a delightfully smooth, capable unit and, in another nod to the past, it was enlarged to 6.75 litres to mirror the capacity of the old L-Series V8. No need to hide its outputs through fear of embarrassment here, though, because the 460hp and 531lb ft of torque slushing through its six-speed ZF automatic gearbox really is adequate.

Travelling around in a Rolls-Royce is a statement in itself, but these days it seems that some buyers need to amplify this to the extreme – just in case bystanders might miss them trundling past in their titanic tonnage. Yet, if like me, you somehow seek to justify the showiness of a Rolls-Royce in the appreciation of its quality, rather than its image, you might understand why I chose this particular car. It’s about as discrete as you can make a Phantom. I suppose you could opt for the blacked-out theme that has become so popular, but that makes these most expensive of cars seem as cheap as chips. Not this one, though. Its navy with parchment and royal blue top roll and carpets just looks the business, while softly emphasising the materials and trimming inside. I think it’s a truly magnificent car. If you happen to have the just-shy-of £80,000 entrance fee, it’s surely worth every penny.

SPECIFICATION | Rolls-Royce Phantom VII

Engine: 6,749cc, V12, naturally aspirated

Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

Power (hp): [email protected],350rpm

Torque (lb ft): [email protected],500rpm

MPG: 18.0

CO2: 343g/km

First registered: 2007

Recorded mileage: 57,000

Price new: N/A 

Yours for: £79,990

See original advert here

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