Goodwood, West Sussex - The Phantom VII limousine was a significant car for Rolls-Royce; ever since 1925 the Phantom has been the company’s flagship model, conveying VIPs from Queen Elizabeth to the mayor of Durban in stately pomp and ceremony.
But the seventh-generation Phantom was also the first Rolls-Royce to be developed under BMW ownership. Fly or fall, it would set the standard by which the new company and its leader Torsten Muller-Otvos, would be judged.
Just like the 1925 original, the Phantom VII was developed in almost paranoid secrecy; then lead engineer Ernest Hives told Rolls-Royce workers the company was developing a new armoured car for the Middle East market and went so far as to leave bits of armour plate lying around the factory where they could be seen by curious visitors, while the new car was designed and built at a temporary ‘skunk works’ nearby.
In the same way, in 1998 project leader Ian Cameron and the development team for the Phantom VII set up shop in a disused bank building in the middle of London, with just five years to design, develop, engineer and test a new banner carrier for the evocative slogan “The Best Car in the World”.