Dashing designer Duncan Quinn—aka DRIVEN’s own 007—made the rounds of the top-drawer events at the New York Auto Show

Here’s Part I of his report from the perfectly appointed front lines…

Dashing designer Duncan Quinn has a Rolls-Royce encounter

My mother used to always joke with me about a mythical car. She called it the “Rolls-Canardly.”

This, of course, was because it could roll down hills but hardly make it up them.

My drive to school involved some particularly interesting gradients; hence the joke.

In later years, when I drove myself, I tried to emulate some aspects of this most revered of legendary beasts.

This involved attaining sufficient escape velocity by the time I was rolling downhill in neutral to make it to the crest of the next rise without having to use the engine.

Our Man at the Auto Show - Part I

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You may ask what the hell this has to do with the New York Auto Show, but the answer is more than you think.

I was lucky enough to join the CEO of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, for breakfast in a particularly swish office overlooking Central Park where I tried to obtain the distillate of RR wisdom.

I joined the CEO of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, for breakfast

Not from where we’re looking, but from where the master of the operation sees it.

There were some interesting factoids: for instance, the youngest customer for the Phantom is a 27-year-old property magnate in India, and you can rest a penny on a running Rolls 12-cylinder engine and watch it do nothing because the motor is so smooth and well-balanced.

But my favorite has to be the fact that 70% of all Rolls-Royces built in the last 100 years are still on the road.

Our Man at the Auto Show - Part I

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That’s pretty mind-boggling and certainly deserves a moment’s pause to consider.

In a world of throwaway rubbish, here truly is a benchmark to which we should all aspire.

Here truly is a benchmark to which we should all aspire

After all, if you are going to make something, why not make it the best you can.

Or as Henry Royce himself said, “Take the best that exists, and make it better.”

But I digress.

Funnily enough, one of the things that is most important in any Rolls-Royce is the sense of occasion they instill in any situation.

Our Man at the Auto Show - Part I

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The arrival and departure are key. Hence the forward-opening doors, among other things.

But apparently “waft” is also key. A sense of traveling as if on air, without the notion of noise or speed.

In a Rolls, the arrival and departure are key

Not quite a Mini-Moke coasting downhill in neutral with the engine off, but I think I know what they mean.

And it is indeed a beautiful thing.

Especially if you are actually full on the gas and blasting past streams of traffic as if they have their brakes seized on.

Our Man at the Auto Show - Part I

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Which is where the Rolls-Canardly fails, but the Rolls-Royce Phantom triumphs.

Some have them for show and the “waft,” but for many they are part of the fabric of life.

The membership card to a very exclusive club

The membership card to a very exclusive club that evokes reminiscences of flapper girls, champagne and a bygone era.

Empire. Substance. The real deal.

So I was pleased to hear that owners are still using their cars to undertake wonderful grand tours, even if from a summer home to a winter home.

So much more memorable than the G-V.

Our Man at the Auto Show - Part I

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And the arrival and departure don’t even involve the guy with the manifest at the airport.

By its very nature, Rolls-Royce is in the habit of crafting unique bespoke vehicles for their very unique clientele.

Crafting unique bespoke vehicles for their very unique clientele

These are cars for those who want miracles in terms of the details and requirements they insist upon.

And for whom Rolls-Royce make the impossible do-able with just a little patience.

Personally, I think I’d still prefer Arthur’s classic for now, but I’m surely ready to be converted to the dark side of the force and heed the Phantom menace…

DQ