This is the very first BMW-era Rolls-Royce Phantom VII

Though its birth was mired in complication from everything up to and including Eleanor herself, the execution was less complicated to explain. “The best luxury car in the entire world. It’s as simple as that,” we said.

Twenty years ago and following a complex wrangling of rights and trademarks betwixt VW and BMW, the first of the new-generation of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars rolled off the production line. It kickstarted a renaissance of not just one of the most famous carmakers in the world, but one of the most famous names in the world.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom that emerged under BMW’s stewardship in 2003 was the seventh generation Phantom; a nameplate stretching back to a time when there remained genuine panic on the streets of London being buried under nine feet of horse manure.

You might jest that the state of our fine capital’s streets remains the same, but the Phantom had come of age. It featured an aluminium spaceframe chassis matched up to a BMW V12. There was an extraordinary cabin outfitted with outrageous luxury. And a price tag of a few hundred thousand pounds.

This very first Phantom VII made its debut at exactly 00.01 on 1 January 2003, and three months later was shipped from Southampton to Perth, to then undertake a 4,500-mile drive across Australia in the hands of its lucky new owner.

Rolls tells us the owner took it down the coast of Western Australia across the Nullarbor Plain to Adelaide, then into Victoria and along the Great Ocean Road until reaching the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge in NSW. Remarkably, the owner’s still got this very Phantom, and we’re told it remains in ‘exceptional condition’ to this day.

The owner’s thoughts upon completing this epic journey? “A grand tourer in the truest sense of the words”. Simple, really.

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