It's an unlikely combination of British luxury and anti-establishment rock 'n' roll.
By tradition, rock ‘n’ roll has been all about sticking it to the man. It’s about playing loud, smashing instruments, and singing about things polite society would rather you wouldn’t. It’s hard to think of a carmaker more opposed to rock’s anti-establishment ethos than Rolls-Royce.
Yet Rolls corralled some of the most legendary names in the history of rock music to customize a batch of its cars. It just rolled out the first four of nine planned Wraith “Inspired by British Music” coupes, which will bear the personal touches of the likes of The Who’s Roger Daltry, The Kinks’ Ray Davies, as well as Ronnie Wood, Shirley Bassey, and Giles Martin, son of producer George Martin, known as the “fifth Beatle.”
If nothing else, the cars show off Rolls’ considerable in-house customization abilities, and will help some good causes. Rolls expects each of the one-off Wraiths to become collectors’ items, and will donate a portion of the sale of each car to a charity of its rock-star creator’s choice.
Each car is a rolling rock trivia contest. Roger Daltry actually partnered with Rolls on two cars: one inspired by his overall career, the other specifically referencing The Who’s 1969 rock opera “Tommy.” One car features the band’s famous bullseye logo in its dashboard clock, and song lyrics engraved in the door panels. The “Tommy” car got a paint job inspired by the album’s cover artwork, complete with birds in flight.
To really drive the point home, Rolls also made sure each car had the name of the artists who designed it engraved on the door kick plates, and at the base of the “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament. That should get peoples’ attention, even if they don’t get all of the music references sprinkled throughout the car.
Rolls hasn’t always had this kind of relationship with rock stars. The company wasn’t exactly pleased when John Lennon covered his Phantom in a psychedelic paint scheme in 1965. My, how things have changed.