Shanghai Motor Show preview: Does the Rolls-Royce Alpine Trial Centenary Collection Ghost indicate a renewed interest in performance?

Rolls-Royce Ghost Alpine Centenary CollectionRolls-Royce will unveil a special edition Ghost at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show. The car will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rolls’ first entry in the Austrian Alpine Trials. This is what happens when Rolls-Royce drags out its dusty performance credentials.

Never heard of the Austrian Alpine Trials, or Rolls-Royce’s performance credentials? You’re not alone: the world’s most recognizable luxury brand has traditionally downplayed performance in the name of comfort and refinement, which is why this stuff doesn’t get talked about much.

In June 1913, Rolls sent a works team, joined by one privateer driver, on the 1,820-mile Trial as a test of endurance to showcase the car’s reliability. Four Silver Ghosts competed, and they all finished.

With the 100th anniversary approaching, Rolls decided to spiff up its latest Ghost, creating the Ghost Alpine Trial Centenary Collection.

Like most special edition models, this Rolls mostly stands out because of cosmetic changes. It gets a special blue hue, black wheels, and a black grille. According to Rolls, this is the first modern car the company has produced with a painted grille.

On the inside, the Alpine has a clock that “displays the stages of the rally and timings” and inlays that show the route and its topography. Don’t accept a ride in this car unless you want a lecture on early 20th century automotive endurance trials.

Rolls-Royce Ghost Alpine Centenary CollectionWith the stock Ghost’s 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 producing 563 horsepower, the Alpine edition shouldn’t have any trouble negotiating its namesake terrain. In fact, it will do just that later this year, retracing the route of the 1913 Trial with an original Silver Ghost.

While the 1913 Austrian Alpine Trial was 100 years ago, and was more of an endurance test than a race, it’s interesting to see Rolls-Royce showing an interest in its competition heritage.

The Alpine edition, and the more aggressive Wraith coupe unveiled earlier this year, seem to indicate a rekindled interest in performance at Rolls-Royce.

Should Rolls-Royce build sportier cars? Tell us in the comments.