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*


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.


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?


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.


*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.



About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich's drivel regularly appears in Practical Performance Car and GT Porsche magazines. He has also written for Classic & Sportscar, MogMag, Classic Performance and Retro, Banzai, Evo, and Modern Mini. He also did a book no-one bought. His hungover fizzog also often appears on CBS’s Carfection channel enthusing about historic motoring. Le Mans winner Derek Bell once refused to get in Rich's Morgan Three Wheeler with him at the wheel. Currently amongst the detritus in his garage is a 1972 Fiat 500 Abarth, a fat BMW and a Lotus Elise. Previous machinery includes a Porsche 968, an Alfa GTV V6 and a dreadful Sinclair C5. He also owns a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike.

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