Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
If you want to impress your family, borrow a Rolls-Royce Ghost and tell them you’re all going on a road trip. Trust me.
My three year-old daughter was really quite chuffed with the choice, given that the Ghost in question has a glass roof – she enjoys pointing at clouds and laughing; who doesn’t? – and my wife was unsurprisingly pretty smiley about it too. She usually rides shotgun, but for this journey she was adamant that she’d be chauffeured, and voiced some concerns about my lack of peaked cap.
The rear of the Ghost, you see, is a wonderful place to be: heated, electrically-reclining seats, zoned climate control, your own DVD player – separate from the one in the front – that controls the big TVs on the back of the seats, polished wooden picnic tables, deep lambswool carpets… hell, there's even a button for closing the door, so you don't have to reach out and do it yourself. It was almost a shame that I couldn’t be back there too.
Almost, but not quite. Driving a Ghost, as one might hope to discover, is the ultimate form of driving. Everything about it just feels right, like other cars are missing a trick by not being as solid and smooth. Every switch is perfectly weighted, every facet of the layout makes sense. That’s what a quarter of a million quid buys you, I guess.
You quickly get used to how massive it is - as wide as a Range Rover, and over a foot longer - as it’s just so lithe and lissom; it slithers through the metropolis like a buttered eel, which is a good thing because everyone’s looking at you and pointing their cameraphones, trying to figure out which celeb might be inside. The sight of my anonymous face was a constant disappointment.
The driver’s reward for not being pampered in the rear is a mighty, Earth-trembling engine – a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 with 563bhp. The car may weigh two-and-a-half tonnes, but it’ll hit 60mph in 4.7 seconds, which is brain-scramblingly surreal and forces you to re-evaluate your understanding of physics. The Ghost defies categorisation – it’s not a saloon or a sports car or a limousine, it’s a Rolls-Royce. It is its own thing.
This acceleration, incidentally, had been thrown into sharp focus when I’d rolled up to the office in the Ghost the previous day. After arriving, it was mere minutes before the big boss arrived at my desk, eager to be taken for a spin around the block. My macho bravado kicked into overdrive. ‘Oh yes, it’s got a twin-turbo V12,’ I bragged, hoping to make him feel shifty about the puny little Aston V8 he’d got parked outside. ‘It’s as powerful as a Lamborghini Gallardo and, despite weighing quite a lot, it’ll hit 60mph in about four-and-a-half seconds.’ What a show off. It’s not even my car.
‘Go on then,’ he said. ‘Prove it.’ Ah. Well, you’re not allowed to do 60mph on the West Cromwell Road, but he was pretty impressed by its 0-40mph time. So much so that he arrived at my desk a couple of hours later with the rest of the senior management board. They all wanted a go too.
The following week, I learned that two rumours were circulating around the office: one, that I was fabulously wealthy and a little eccentric; two, that I had a second job as a chauffeur. Not sure which I prefer.
The admiration of colleagues is nothing compared to the feeling of impressing your family, of course. My wife and daughter loved the Ghost, as did I, and for that week we felt like millionaires. (Um, in a nouveau-riche lottery-winner way, at least.) It is a double-edged sword, though – once your loved ones get used to the swank, you’ve set an unsustainable precedent. Every journey in our slightly knackered Skoda now feels like a massive anti-climax. We touched the stars, but then we tumbled back to Earth.
Still, it’s better to have loved and lost, and all that. We’ll keep buying those lottery tickets.