A Modern Magic Carpet

By Jo Phillips

A great fiction story is often one that has a level of human truth to it or captures the imagination so that we feel we connect with it. Often these stories passed down from generation to generation lie with hidden messages. Red Riding Hood was not a tale about a wolf dressing up as Grandma originally but a tale to warn young girls of certain male behaviour. Another story that has lasted hundreds of years is the ‘tall tale’ of The Flying Carpet; one we all wished we could ride on and live the experience beyond our imagination. So where did it come from and what is its modern-day interpretation?

Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day’s journey and difficult to reach.”

This is the cornerstone idea of this fable, one that has been around for centuries. A device used in folklore to permit travel, far and wide, in impossibly short time frames. This legendary flying carpet is an integral part of stories in the Eastern World, appearing in ancient Jewish texts, the Arabian One Thousand and One Nights, and also in Indian texts.

One of the ancient stories goes that the Queen of Sheba commissioned a royal alchemist to make a flying carpet for her, spending years perfecting his craft and weaving the secret to flight into the dying process. The carpet he made for the Queen was said to be the biggest and most beautiful of all the carpets ever made. It was made with green silk and had silver and gold threads woven into it finally with embellishments of precious gemstones. 

Once completed, the Queen of Sheba had it sent to her lover, King Solomon, who received it right in the middle of building the great Temple of Jerusalem and was too busy to stop. Handing it to a courtier, once she heard this news she was brokenhearted. From this point on she vowed she would never again have a magic carpet made for anyone.

The Book known as One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of folk tales that date as far back as the ninth century.

This collection of stories is told by the ruler Shahryar and his future Queen, Scheherazade. Shahryar had a dark past of marrying young brides and then murdering them the following morning.

Scheherazade was doomed to the same fate as his previous lovers. Luckily, she was clever enough to find a way out of her looming execution, telling fables and tall tales.

Scheherazade told intriguing stories to Shahryar every night and always ended things abruptly with a cliffhanger, which kept him wanting more.

This went on for one thousand and one nights, (hence the book’s name) and Shahryar ultimately fell too in love with Scheherazade to kill her.

Scheherazade often incorporated magic flying carpets in her stories, and they transported characters swiftly and quietly from one location to another without them being noticed.

Some evidence seems to indicate that the very first flying carpet stories came out of Persia. These stories may date back much further than the ninth century. In antiquity, and even now, Persia was renowned for handmade rugs that are still highly prized and are extravagantly expensive luxury items. 

Although there has yet to be a real flying carpet the world’s biggest carpet is in Abu Dhabi at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The carpet in the hall is considered by many to be the world’s largest carpet measuring 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft) and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.

So what could be the modern equivalent of a flying carpet not just in Dubai? Probably a luxurious car that takes you from place to place with such ease it’s like being on a flying carpet. The most glorious and luxurious of these would have to be a Rolls-Royce. Interestingly this Emirate of Dubai is an area where many Rolls-Royce cars can be seen

Two gentlemen made an agreement, Mr Royce and Mr Rolls. Henry Royce made his first motor car in 1904 after starting his electronic and mechanical business in 1884. In May 1904 he met Mr Rolls who sold quality motor cars in London. They reached an agreement that Royce would make cars exclusively for Rolls with the joint name Rolls-Royce.

By 1906 the company produced the Silver Ghost which was much considered at the time the best car in the world. Rolls-Royce introduced the smaller, affordable Twenty in 1922.

The First World War saw the company help in the engine making for the first planes used in combat. And by the time the Second World War came around Rolls-Royce was producing the power behind The Hurrican and Spitfire planes both of which helped Britain win the ww2.

This elevated the company onto the global stage and eventually helped the company enter the world of aviation. In 1973 the car and plane businesses were split.

The new 40/50 hp Phantom replaced the Silver Ghost. The name Phantom is one that the brand has used since 1925 and continues to the present day with the Phantom Series 11. Considered one of the most elegant, opulent, and desirable luxury vehicles it’s expectational.

“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it doesn’t exist, design it.”

Sir Henry Royce.

To understand where the brand is now with this iconic model it’s important to delve into the history, taking a look at seven generations since the model’s introduction.

Built between 1925 and 1931, a total of 3,512 units of the Phantom I were produced, with 2,269, built in Derby, England, with 1,240 built in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.

Utilizing elegant bodywork these models were built to spec for the buyer’s taste from noted designers. Even then, the suspension set-up includes semi-elliptical springs in front and cantilever springs in the rear, plus four-wheel brakes giving the smoothest ride possible for the day and by doing so setting out its DNA from its earliest moments.

Produced between 1929 and 1936, Rolls made 1,680 units total of the second-gen Phantom. Known as the last of the 40/50 models, the Phantom II. A new chassis and a revised engine appeared with the chassis significantly revised, and the frame lowered, enhancing overall handling. Making it stop was four-wheel servo-assisted brakes.

Next came between 1936 and 1939, the Phantom III, known for being the last pre-war Rolls-Royce model with only 727 units produced, it was the last car that Henry Royce helped to create. The 12-cylinder engine utilized a lightweight aluminum construction.

Interestingly, the 12-cylinder also got a unique twin ignition system, with two distributors, two coils, and no less than 24 spark plugs. Providing the ‘juice’ a twin SU electric fuel pump. Top speed at an impressive 87 mph, with the 0-to-60 sprint done in 16.8 seconds.

After the war, and many changes across the world, Rolls-Royce delivered the Phantom IV model. Their most exclusive model to date with just 18 cars produced, most of which went to heads of state and royalty to be used as parade vehicles.

The first IV was created at the behest of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh and was finished in green with blue undertones and red striping.

Produced between 1959 and 1968, a total of 516 units of the fifth-generation Phantom were created. Power-assisted steering became standard, while drum brakes in the corners helped with stopping.

In 1963, Rolls updated the V with a more powerful engine as well as new front wings and headlights for the exterior.

Rolls-Royce offered up the Phantom VI between 1968 and 1990, with only 374 cars created. The engine was mated to a three-speed automatic gearbox.

The seventh generation Phantom was the first new model introduced under BMW ownership, which was produced between 2003 and 2016.

Significantly this was mostly hand-built, although a few robots were utilized for more laborious tasks and buyers were able to have huge amounts of customization to make theirs unique, including a large variety of leather colours for the high-tech modernized interior.

Of course with every model since 1911 the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy sat elegantly on the hood, where she still sits proudly today. A mascot that would adorn all Rolls-Royce cars highlighting the specifications that it should convey:-

“the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace”

The eighth generation of Phantom was presented in 2017. This new expression, saw designers and engineers guided by the requests of clients, who requested most earnestly that Rolls-Royce not make any major changes to this iconic motor car. The lightest of touches can be seen in a car that is all about preservation and protection.

Under the skin was a new aluminum-intensive platform dubbed the “Architecture of Pure Luxury,” which were the same bones utilised for their SUV Cullinan.

Final assembly, including all body, paint, wood, and leather work, was completed to each customer’s individual specification at the Rolls-Royce plant in Goodwood, West Sussex.

Now comes the Phantom 8 Series 2

Lead by the trademark Spirit of Ecstasy on the hood, the Phantom comes equipped with top-shelf extravagance and lavishness, offering high levels of personalization to each customer’s exacting wishes. The legend keeps moving forward with perfection and of course the most comfortable silent driving experience.

Find the standards as expected with such a luxury mode of transport, because ultimately everything else is the icing on the cake as wished for by the client.

After all over 2,000 skilled men and women are employed at the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ head office and manufacturing plant at Goodwood, West Sussex, the only place in the world where the company’s super-luxury motor cars are, and can be, hand-built.

The most obvious and important feature to be retained is Phantom’s commanding presence. This has been further enhanced by a new polished horizontal line between the daytime running lights above the Pantheon Grille.

This gives the Phantom 8 Series 2 a new and assertive modernity, reflecting its driver-focused character, for those who prefer to be in control rather than be chauffeur-driven. The panoramic view when either driving or in the front passenger seat is unparalleled, akin to a wide-screen TV set with perfect colour, enhancing the experiential element of the drive.

Outside notice the headlights subtly dotted with intricate laser-cut bezel starlights, creating a visual connection with the starlight which can also be seen inside with these crystal star-bursts on the inlay in the headliner. Nighttime comes with an extra glow.

Phantom 8 Series 2 side profile retains Rolls-Royce’s signature short front and long rear overhang, long wheelbase, and broad c-pillar, the latter giving greater privacy for occupants. The silhouette preserves the elegant key lines running from the Spirit of Ecstasy to the tapering rear tail.

The ‘split-belt’ line begins at the front fender and curves gently towards the rear door, emphasising the car’s long dash-to-axle proportions, before falling gently towards the lantern-like rear lamps. The heavily undercut ‘waft line’ creates a strong shadow, visually signalling the marque’s unequalled smoothness and a lightness of drive.

Most true to its heritage is the ability to adapt to the client’s requirements and requests.

“Each commission represents a distinct design reflecting an aspect of what Phantom means to its ultimate owner. Many Phantom owners achieve their success through new ideas, unconventional methods, and their own relentless self-belief. The ‘Maverick’ Bespoke persona demonstrates how Phantom adapts to the modern age, asserting a creative, independent character.”

Jonathan Simms, Head of Bespoke, Rolls-Royce

The  Phantom 8 Series 2 attracts the most ambitious and challenging bespoke commissions ever undertaken by Rolls-Royce. After all, the customers are people of high regard with exacting tastes and needs. Elite, in the public eye, determined and demanding customers, who come to Rolls-Royce for the ultimate, in driving majesty and an artistic masterpiece to make their own.

The newest Phantom has thus been deliberately designed to offer a ‘blank canvas’ for Bespoke personalisation, capable of becoming whatever the client wishes it to be, and a true reflection of their individual style and character.

Extras now built-in include such items as ‘Rolls-Royce Connected’. This enables the owner to send an address directly to the motor car from Whispers, the Rolls-Royce private-members’ Application, providing seamless navigation to an event, restaurant, dealership, or even the Home of Rolls-Royce itself.

The gallery upfront can be commissioned in any finish including artworks from customers’ favourite makers, or of course any kind of wood trim as long as the wood is farmed in an eco way. One client wanted a bamboo interior, so the brand spent two years developing this and of course, testing to ensure the material would stand up to Rolls-Royce’s exacting standards.

Coloured leather interiors can be single, dual, and in any combination. The process of choices for all the add-ons is worked on with the client and brand leader, to ensure the customer’s ideas can be not only realised but made to the highest grades as expected of this giant of the motor world. This is after all the be-all and end-all in the world of luxury car makers. Want flowers embroidered on your leather? Want a tattoo painted on your hood all you have to do is ask.

The requested commissions reflect the spectrum of not just clients but also their interests and influences around art music and design. The cars can be rock and roll in look or full of timeless heritage as that of a British stately home. Each design of course with limitless exquisite finishes that belong together like fish and chips between brand and client

Ultimately the choices are limitless as to what is requested in ways of personalisation. As long as it is legal and roadworthy then Rolls-Royce will do it for you. An in-house team works on each customisation or where needed a specialist will be brought in to work with the brand’s in-house design team. The car the bare walls if you like, of a new home, ready for the dream, the fairytale, the fable, to become reality.

It is as though the original My Royce and Mr Rolls are standing by encouraging each client to be individual and flamboyant, creative, and limitless. They ‘let go’ of control and bought their customers alongside for not just the journey but the designing element too.

Rolls-Royce has remained one of the most famous names in engineering throughout the world, and the Phantom 8 Series 2  is a beautiful vehicle with an unsurpassed level of opulence. One that has always been about not just being the best car in the world, technically, materially or dynamically but about being the best car for each client, after all, kid gloves come in different sizes shapes, and colours, each to their own as they say…

Of course, this is no fairytale, fable or dream. This is real. These are cars that are destined for the stables of royalty, and successful, elite customers. Ones that are never afraid of their own power, wealth, and prestige.

If you drive a Rolls-Royce Phantom 8 Series 2 you know, that the addition of compressed air (the term, air suspension) allows for a floating feeling that keeps the vehicle responsive to even slightly uneven surfaces; ultimately the smoothest of journeys. You experience a smooth ride wherever you travel whether it be bumpy roads climbing a hill or rocky terrain to the smoothest of roads winding through England’s green and pleasant highways and byways.

After all, a cornerstone of the brand is this feeling of floating on air one where all your dreams can come true like the best fairytales and this is why The Rolls-Royce  Phantom 8 Series 2 is the modern-day flying carpet.

To find out about  Phantom 8 Series 2 and all Rolls-Royce’s cars please visit Rollsroyce.com Here

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