Rolls-Royce 100 EX

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Description: The 100EX is the first Experimental Car to be produced by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since BMW Group became the custodians of the marque in 1998 and launched the all-new Phantom at the company’s new home in Goodwood in January 2003.

Based on a lightweight aluminium space-frame, this open-top, four-seat, two-door drophead has been designed and produced to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Rolls-Royce, which falls in May 2004. There is no plan to produce it as a series model.

Experimental models have long been a feature of Rolls-Royce, particularly between 1919 and 1957 when a number of motor cars were given the ‘EX’ name. Unlike a concept car, an experimental car functions more fully and was originally used by Rolls-Royce to test and evaluate new systems, components and features.

While the design of the 100EX and the choice of its special construction materials resonate strongly with Rolls-Royce tradition, both its aesthetic qualities and its technological content place it squarely in the 21st century.

A strong nautical theme runs throughout, with bleached teak decking featuring both inside and outside the car. Polished aluminium also features heavily, particularly on the bonnet and windscreen surround, while the composite body is finished in Dark Curzon.

The design team that shaped the new Experimental Car was based in Southern California, at BMW Group’s studio, Designworks – an entirely natural setting for a luxurious convertible. Here research was conducted into the Rolls-Royce design language specific to open-top motoring.

A number of designs were proposed with the ultimate choices progressing to the clay stage. After final selection, the build process began, this time at BMW’s specialist design and build facilities in Munich.

Shorter than the Phantom by 165 mm (6.5 in) and 71 mm (3 in) lower, the 100EX has a graceful side profile with a characteristic dynamic rise in the waistline over the rear wheels and lines that sweep upwards towards the front of the motor car.

To emphasize the bodylines, a polished aluminum waist rail surrounds the passenger compartment. Hand crafted, bleached teak decking has been chosen to feature both inside and outside the car, forming part of a strong maritime theme that runs throughout. On the exterior it forms a tonneau cover for the folded hood and features as an inlay in the polished aluminum door cappings.

At the front, a solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy sits on a progressively rakish version of the traditional Rolls-Royce grille, blending into the dramatic bonnet which has been milled from a single aluminum block and brushed to a high sheen. The windscreen surround and A-pillar, triangulated for exceptional strength, is also machined from solid aluminum.

The two coach doors of 100EX demonstrate the marriage of form and function throughout the car. They are large enough to allow exceptional access for rear-seat passengers, hinged at the rear in the style of many exceptional pre-war touring cars and like the rear doors of the new Phantom.

The tailored soft top is made from an advanced material that incorporates woven wire strands offering strength and all weather protection. The inside of the hood is lined with a wool/cashmere blend fabric. Painstaking design of the folding mechanism means the hood can be concealed in an extremely small storage area, keeping intrusion into the luggage space to a minimum.

The rear of the motor car tapers in a boat-tail style and the ‘countryman’ boot lid is split to give a drop-down lower tailgate. Teak decking extends across the boot floor, providing a table-like surface.

The chosen interior wood veneer is figured mahogany. Upholstery and trim are in rich Dark Curzon leather, while the flooring features the same bleached teak decking as the tonneau cover for the folded hood.

Specially-designed front seats are included, which are ultra-supportive but slender, allowing good legroom for rear passengers. The rear seat itself, while more intimate than that in the Phantom, is extremely accommodating for two people, with generous space devoted to passenger comfort, helped by the neat and space-efficient folding roof mechanism.

100EX is powered by a 9-litre V16, 64-valve engine. Natural aspiration was chosen over turbo or supercharging to give the instant, yet perfectly smooth style of pick-up which has so impressed in the Phantom. Drive is delivered through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

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