Rolls-Royce are undoubtedly the prestige motorcar manufacturer. They will satisfy a buyers every whim, matching paint to lipsticks and leather to red setters, to cite recent examples. Which constellation was your child born under? They’ll set it in little lights in the headlining. Impressive, but you might have known that already and we’re ‘ard nosed cynics at MotorPunk. It takes a lot to impress us. Enjoying a day with the long wheelbase Phantom pictured here, though, I found something, that one little detail, that sold Rolls-Royce to me*

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That detail is the power reserve meter. This is a kind of reverse rev counter, showing not how hard the engine is working but how much harder it could work, if needed. I haven’t looked up the numbers for the silent V12 that powers this huge machine, they’re irrelevant to me, but the power reserve meter will tell what it is capable of. I found that at 70MPH it has a good 90% in reserve, for example. What to me appeals is not the technology, it’s just a simple gauge, after all, but what it says about Rolls-Royce’s attitude to effort.

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Rolls-Royce must be the only car company with no recent history of motorsport. There are no Nürburgring credentials, no drag-race stats. No need to shout. The power reserve meter, in lieu of a rev counter, somehow discourages over-exertion. As someone who has successfully avoided any form of PE since school this appeals to me greatly. Rolls-Royce cars are deliberately kept simple. The heater can be set to low, medium or high. Controls are tidied away behind panels. This long wheel base Phantom is colossal yet masks its size with modest lines. Those C pillars, for example, are as big as bungalows yet are quite graceful, don’t you think?

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The power reserve meter itself is just a simple dial. The hub is hidden. The thin needle has a little pip on the end, white on black with a subtle double R logo below. It tells you not to work too hard, that you’ve plenty in reserve – it tells you that you’ve made it. It’s the detail that sells a Rolls-Royce to me. I’ll have mine with the values expressed as fractions, not percentages. I’m quite sure the chaps at the factory could do that.

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*Not literally. This one is £400k.

PS – For those wanting to see this wonderful waft in action, there’s a video coming soon from our friends at XCAR.

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About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich Duisberg* has had work published in Classic & Sportscar, Practical Performance Car, Modern Mini, Banzai, MogMag, Evo, GT Porsche, Complete Kit Car, Absolute Lotus, Alternative Cars, Classic Retro Modern, and elsewhere. Rich often appears on CBS’s XCAR and Carfection channels, and Motors TV, plus JayEmm on Cars, enthusing about historic motoring. His latest book (find his work on Amazon) was described by SniffPetrol as "hilarious", although he was also threatened with legal action by elderly DJ Tim Westwood. In his Midlands man cave is a 1972 Fiat 500, a Lotus Elise, a BMW barge and a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike. Previous machines of interest include an Mk1 MX5 (owned for 14 years!), an Alfa GTV6, a Porsche 968 and a Sinclair C5. The Metro (right) was bought for an experiment, and abandoned in Africa. "I am not getting in a car with him" -  said Le Mans winner, Derek Bell. *A nom-de-plume inspired by the BBC's League of Gentlemen.

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