Goodwood has been the home of the ultra-luxury automaker for two decades.
Rolls-Royce, the world's preeminent purveyor of fine luxury automobiles, is celebrating 20 years at the iconic Goodwood manufacturing facility.
The journey to Goodwood started with BMW, which, in 1997, got its hands on the British institution. Many feared the German brand would mismanage the brand, but, as we now know, this was not to be the case. With just a few years to find a location befitting the Rolls-Royce name, BMW looked for a place that would best reflect the newly-acquired marque's heritage and status.
But only one place would stand out from the rest: Goodwood, Chichester. Co-founder Sir Henry Royce resided in the area for nearly 20 years, and it is here where he sketched the design of the Merlin engine, the very motor that gave power to the iconic Spitfire fighter aircraft.
Goodwood is also famous for the Festival of Speed and the Motor Circuit, both frequented by the upper echelons of society and, therefore, the perfect place for an automaker like Rolls-Royce.
But a common industrial building wouldn't do for the British automaker. As a maker of super-luxury products, the facility needed to reflect that fact and boast a world-class design that exuded elegance. Rolls-Royce commissioned Nicholas Grimshaw, an award-winning architect whose form was responsible for London's Waterloo International railway station and many more breathtaking creations.
They built a contemporary masterpiece that was equal parts modern and sustainable. To this day, the Goodwood facility is the only place in the world that handcrafts Rolls-Royce motorcars. It also serves as the company's headquarters.
But a first-rate factory is no good unless it's building something. Cue the Rolls-Royce Phantom VII, a car so spectacular Jeremy Clarkson once described it as a "majestic, inspiring, serene and glorious blend of style and engineering."
In typical Rolls fashion, the first example was delivered at 12:01 AM on January 1, 2003, to an individual who still owns the car to this day. The motoring world was bowled over by this bastion of luxury, but the automaker had no plans to rest on its laurels.
A few years later, in 2007, the magnificent Drophead Coupe arrived and was followed by the Phantom Coupe. With their art deco styling, the decadent duo would inspire another generation of Rolls-Royce products, including the Ghost, Dawn, Wraith, and Cullinan.
The Ghost was a critical model for the automaker. Launched in 2010, it attracted an entirely new customer base; those for whom a Phantom was perhaps out of reach. Aimed at the customer who wanted to drive themselves, the smaller model was just as elegant and imposing as its grander sibling.
The Ghost nameplate became the best-selling Rolls-Royce in the company's history. It is currently in its second generation and continues to enjoy popularity with the world's upper class. The Wraith and Dawn sought to attract a new customer base and did so with gusto.
In 2018, Rolls-Royce couldn't ignore the SUV craze and finally launched the Cullinan, described as the "Rolls-Royce of SUVs." Now the most in-demand product in the lineup, Cullinan and the rest of the non-Phantom vehicles, are available as Black Badge variants.
The Black Badge range is described as "an audacious alter ego" and was created for clients looking for something more sinister and rebellious. Should you want a genuinely exclusive motorcar, Rolls-Royce would be all too happy to oblige via its Bespoke division, which is responsible for some truly special models.
If you've got copious amounts of money and a penchant for one-off models, Rolls-Royce Coachbuild provides special customers with endless scope for customization. Here, it's not just colors and interior finishes that can be changed but the entirety of the design. The Boat Tail is the latest in a long line of coach-built Rollers.
Two decades ago, the Goodwood facility employed just 350 people. Since then, it has grown to employ 2,500 individuals. This immense growth comes as the automaker expands its lineup to include the Spectre. This striking luxury coupe has the privilege of being the first-ever production electric Rolls-Royce.
The facility will remain one of the most iconic automotive headquarters and continue to be where Rolls-Royce produces motorcars. It's more than a factory. It's where dreams are made, and engineers and designers are challenged to surpass the best and cater to the whims of discerning customers.
"Goodwood is both the physical and spiritual Home of Rolls-Royce. [It is] far more than just an advanced manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters, it gives visitors an immediate introduction to our brand: beautiful, elegant, and impressive, yet also creative, vibrant, and ever-changing. It is its private universe, yet wholly connected to the wider world. We, the Rolls-Royce family, are privileged to call it home," said company CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos.
We wonder if the automaker is working on something special to commemorate the occasion. If so, it will undoubtedly be an extraordinary creation.
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