A Rolls-Royce Weekend
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Sunday 6th August saw a remarkable gathering of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars head to Harewood House near Leeds.
The occasion - the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club 38th Northern Rally.
Home to the Queen's cousin, The Earl of Harewood, the house sits in the heart of Yorkshire and is one of the Treasure Houses of England. Built in the 18th century, Harewood House has art collections to rival the finest in the land.
The renowned Bird Garden and 'Capability' Brown landscaping are further delights.
Once again I had come to see the cars both old and new and I wasn't disappointed.
Adding a little magic to the occasion, Rolls-Royce kindly loaned me a Black Badge Edition of its glimmering Ghost.
Silver Shadows jostled for position with Phantoms, Silver Spirits and Corniches and it was hard to decide which cars merited closer inspection.
The friendly owners were happy to chat about their valuable prize motor cars and it was clear many were spending the family inheritance maintaining their cars to the very highest of standards.
Fresh from the factory and in pride of place was a shiny new Rolls-Royce Dawn, on loan to the Club Chairman Johan Vanden Bergh. With 'my' Ghost parked alongside, this delightful duo attracted plenty of attention throughout the day.
I am not sure many of the traditional Rolls-Royce owners wanted to swap their pride and joy for a new model, but the comments were mostly favourable.
List prices however did surprise most, but then a Rolls-Royce motor car has always been seen as a cut above the rest and for that you must pay.
So what of the Ghost Black Badge? The elegant black exterior hid a rather vibrant interior.
The primary colour of Cobalto Blue would not be my choice and other oldies tended to agree. Younger viewers however loved it.
I know from past experience, the factory can produce an interior to any specification and if your pockets are deep enough, the extensive options list is there to explore.
In fact the test car had over £80,000 worth of delights adding to the already considerable £258,768 list price.
The Ghost is a big and heavy car, but once ensconced behind the wheel, enjoying the imperious driving position, it is quite remarkable how quickly the Rolls heads down the road.
Should you feel the need to sprint away from the traffic lights, 60mph will be reached in a mere 4.6 seconds. Not many cars will keep up, in a straight line at least.
Of more interest is the huge 840Nm of torque produced by the 6,592cc V12 engine. A mere twitch of the right foot is all that is required for a swift overtake.
As one would expect a silky smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox is fitted and changes are all but imperceptible.
Ride comfort is mostly exemplary, with just an occasional shudder when encountering a deep pothole.
It's doubtful that handling prowess is high on the list of Ghost owners' priorities, for no doubt a Ferrari or Aston Martin will be on hand for such times.
However, the Ghost can be hustled along a country lane at quite a lick should you be late for a very important date.
Perhaps of little interest to wealthy Rolls-Royce buyers are economy and emissions. The latter is a rather heady 333g/km CO2 which won't find favour with environmentalists.
Combined economy is quoted at 19.3mpg and during my brief tenure, I recorded a not unreasonable 18.6mpg. There seem to be almost no variation no matter how I drove the car.
It is most likely that Ghost owners will be driven, rather than drive and the rear compartment is rather special.
The seats are electrically adjustable and can be had with a massage function, ideal after a hard day in the board room.
Heating and cooling seat controls are fitted and if that's not enough, the champagne can be chilled in the fitted coolbox. I made do with mineral water...
Slip off the brogues and plush lambswool footmats will tickle your tootsies.
Twin screens are fitted with controls in the central arm rest.
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Most of the crowd who came to view the Ghost made a bee line for the back seats and when I tired of wandering around the show field, it was a delight to retreat to the calm and comfort of cabin for a snooze.
At the end of a long and enjoyable summer's day, the Ghost Black Badge wafted us home in silence and comfort.
At journey's end, we felt no rush to leave and instead lingered a while, savouring the upmarket ambience, knowing full well that the car would be heading back to Goodwood the following day.
Whilst I don't covet the Ghost as I do some cars that I am lucky enough to test, I have great admiration for the engineering excellence and peerless luxury.
I can see why, with many millions in the bank, a Rolls-Royce would be one of those objects that you would acquire.
Until such time, I will be thankful for the opportunity to see how the other half lives. A memorable experience and one which I hope to replicate next year.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
List price: £258,768 before options
6,592cc V12 engine - 612PS
Unladen weight 2,435kg
0-60mph in 4.6 seconds
Top speed limited to 155mph
Combined economy 19.3mpg
Emissions 333g/km CO2
A Rolls-Royce Weekend, 12th August 2017, 18:24 PM