They say taking a short break overseas can be life-changing, and this trip to Budapest certainly was. The completely unexpected happened. I knew I was there to have an introduction to the newly built Rolls Royce Black Badge Ghost, the latest design offering from the iconic car makers. However, I was not expecting that I would not only be having a test drive but that the test run would be on the Hungaroring F1 track. I heard this news and thought I may just throw up!
It’s one thing to be driving this beast of a car in a locked-down car park, with no danger of running into other cars or any unforeseen obstacles, it’s another to drive it on the F1 track. The Rolls Royce team came up with this genius opportunity. I had to suck it up and put my fears aside and just go for it. If I hadn’t, I think it is something I would have regretted for the rest of my life. And I can say despite all the major anxiety and fear that I felt at that moment, as soon as my foot hit the pedal, I got carried away with the adrenalin, and I can quite easily and honestly say it was the drive of my life. To think that this very track is used to race the fastest cars in the world, by legendary extraordinarily skilled drivers, and then there on that Thursday evening is little old me driving the world’s classiest car on the same track. After my triumph, I felt I was ready to take the podium.
From start to finish this was a rather exceptional trip. I was collected from Budapest Airport and the chauffeur drove in a Rolls Royce Black Badge, arriving at the Hotel Matild Palace in style. This newly refurbished hotel is currently the number one hotspot on the busy hospitality scene in Budapest, and the piece de resistance is the rooftop bar, The Duchess. And I would be remiss not to mention of course that the hotel is also home to Wolfgang Puck’s legendary Spago, and I did ask if he was around, but sadly he was not.
At the start of our evening we have whisked away to Budapest’s District 21, Csepel Island, and to the former site of Manfred Weiss Steel and Metal Works, the largest steel plant in Europe for over one hundred years. We were there to visit the art studios and workspace of Gabor Miklos Szoke, his specialty is large-scale impressive sculptures. We were privileged to meet the very talented Gabor (Hungary’s most prolific artist) who talked us through some of his art. And of course, housed within his studios was the spectacular new edition Black Badge Ghost, we had a short introduction from Frank Tiemann, the Head of Corporate Communications, who gave us a brief, efficient overview of this true masterpiece of British engineering and design. He kept it brief as we were all anxious to take a proper look for ourselves, and we were given free rein to get acquainted with the vehicle before we drove it through the streets of the city en route to the F1 track.
Frank explained to us that: “Rolls-Royce Motor Cars had a very successful 2021, as well as significant first-quarter figures for 2022. Rest assured; we are not chasing volume: our business is all about individualization and personalization and Black Badge is a superb example. Rolls-Royce is a customer-driven company built on our historic strength and ability to react and respond to our customer’s requests. The proof is here in front of us, in the form of the spectacular Black Badge Ghost.”
A decade ago, the Rolls Royce team gleaned that their clients did not want to be connected to traditional codes of luxury. This was a new era of millionaires and billionaires, who wanted something different, something unique, these tastemakers challenged boundaries, perceptions, and conventions. And as a result, the Black Badge series, a permanent bespoke treatment of the motor cars were born encompassing the Black Badge Wraith, the Dawn, the Cullinan, and the Ghost. The aim of these particular cars is that they are darker in aesthetic, more urgent in personality, and dramatic in material treatment.
Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls Royce Motor Cars said: “In the five years since Black Badge became publicly available, this bold family of motor cars has come to symbolize the pinnacle of a new type of super-luxury product, setting in motion a shift across the wider luxury industry. Subsequently, nearly all luxury makers create products that seek to capture the Black Badge spirit. This new addition, the Ghost represents a new kind of Black Badge motor car, one that seizes on the minimalist, Post Opulent design treatment that has recast the legend of Ghost but amplifies and subverts it with the application of black. Our most advanced motor car yet has been re-engineered to characterize the alter ego of the Rolls Royce: assertive, dynamic, and potent. This is the purest Black Badge motor car in the marque’s history. This is the Black Badge Ghost.”
Conceived in response to a group of clients who requested a Rolls Royce that was agile, discreet, highly connected, and free of any superfluous design, the new Ghost is not just the most technologically advanced Rolls Royce yet, but also the most aesthetically pure. In the twelve months since this motor car has been available it has become one of the fastest-selling products in the marque’s history, representing more than 3,500 commissions worldwide.
If you are on the market for one, you have the impossible task of choosing from the marque’s 44,000 “ready to wear” colors or you can create your own entirely unique bespoke hue. The majority of buyers thus far have requested the signature black. To create what is the motor car industry’s darkest black, 100 lbs (45kg) of paint is atomized and applied to an electrostatically charged body in white before being oven-dried. The motor car then receives two layers of the clear coat before being hand-polished by a team of four craftsmen to produce the marque’s signature high-gloss piano finish. Another major innovation is that the Spirit of Ecstasy and the Pantheon Grille have both been subverted.
The Ghost is equipped with all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and the award-winning Planar Suspension system. These peerless engineering qualities have been comprehensively re-engineered, including the fitting of more voluminous air springs to alleviate body roll under more assertive cornering. Perfect for driving on the F1 track.
Frank went on to further explain: “There’s a brand-new aluminum architectural chassis, new engine, and body panels. We have new technology, all-wheel drive, and rear steer as well. All the technology was demanded by our customers. We spent a lot of time talking to them, asking what they would like in their next Ghost. We are a customer-focused company and we make sure we create something our customers really want; and that it is a success from the second the car hits the road.”
And as we hit the F1 track we got to experience all those things for ourselves, it was indeed an exceptional and thrilling drive; the Rolls Royce Black Badge Ghost has made an appearance on my Christmas wish list, Santa pay attention!
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