2009 Rolls-Royce PhantomEnlarge Photo
Aside from walnut and maple and chrome and hides, the Phantom’s decked out for sultans and Speidis alike, with automatic climate control, a sunroof, a Lexicon audio system. From there, things go from sublime to ridiculous. You can choose wooden door caps, a lovely touch, or order built-in drink cabinets for the back doors. At $14,600, it’s cheaper just to hire a driver to take you to New Orleans and have that Sazerac topped with gold leaf. The usual satellite radio, Bluetooth and DVD screens are fitted, too—but you’ll have to pay for blingy 20-inch wheels or pinstriping or, say, custom-tanned leather seats the shade of George Hamilton. You can ring the bell past the $438,330 sticker on our Phantom tester, easily, but who’s going to write that second mortgage?
By sunset, the stares and pointed fingers and the urge to wear something supportive had grown overwhelming. I motored out of Palm Springs suitably admired by onlookers, and more than ready to return the Phantom to safe shelter, away from all the careening cars on California’s least well-driven freeway. Which is all of them. Arriving back at LAX, I decided the Phantom’s the perfect car for many occasions. And decided it’s a pity most of them are coronations and Oscar nights.