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Building the world's most expensive Rolls-Royces

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Goodwood, West Sussex - When entrepreneur Stephen Hung ordered a fleet of 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms for his planned luxury hotel The 13 in Macau, it was the biggest single order ever placed with Rolls-Royce. But Hung wasn’t done setting records.

Two of them, finished to Hung’s specifications by the Bespoke department at the Goodwood home of Rolls-Royce were, at the time they were ordered, the most expensive Rolls-Royce cars yet commissioned from the factory.

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The gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy figurine is lit from below.

Each is finished in a very special red paint, infused with tiny flecks of real gold - and just mixing that paint was an engineering achievement of note. The paint experts in the surface finishes department soon found out that 24-carat flakes of chemically pure gold wouldn’t work; they had to alloy it with trace amounts (about 1.04 percent) of aluminium and other metals, as well as tiny chips of glass, to get consistent disbursement and perfectly even colour.

They installed brand new, dedicated spray-painting equipment to physically prevent contamination of the special paint - and even then it took eight tries to get the finish exactly right. There are 10 coats of paint on each car, including a layer of gold, aluminium and glass 40 microns thick - that’s 0.04mm or half the thickness of a human hair.

In total, the paint on these two cars is two and a half times the thickness of the standard paint finish on a Rolls-Royce. Finally, Rolls-Royce’s resident coachline expert Mark Court hand-painted twin coachlines along each side of the body in pure gold paint, using a fine squirrel-hair brush.

Gold plated

The handmade nickel-silver pantheon grille that has been the hallmark of every Rolls-Royce since 1907 has been gold plated, as has the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine, which is lit from below. The RR badge just in front of it was cast using 97.1 grams of 18-carat gold ( pure gold is too soft to cast accurately) and then, because 18-carat gold is slightly redder than pure gold, it was gold-plated as well, for a perfect match.

The RR emblem was formed in vitreous enamel, surrounded by 336 pavé set brilliant-cut diamonds.

Each Gold Phantom has a starlight headliner that depicts the night sky above Macau on the night of The 13’s groundbreaking, with gold thread handwoven into the fabric to identify the constellation and a gold plaque engraved with the date and location.

The seats are trimmed with hand-woven black and white leather panels, to represent the chequered floor of the hotel lobby, and a special ‘pearl effect’ gold-coloured leather dye was created for the outer panels of the seats.

Even the famous Rolls-Royce umbrellas inside the doors have gold handles and trim, and the gold tread plates below them are engraved with ‘PHANTOM Specially Commissioned by Stephen Hung’, just to remind you who was responsible for these monuments to over-the-topness.

IOL Motoring

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