Rolls-Royce has always attracted subversive clients — rebellious women and men who built their success by breaking the rules, taking risks and challenging conventions. In the 21st century, these women and men engage with luxury products on their own terms. They reject suits for streetwear, use blockchain, not banks, and influence the analogue world through their digital endeavours. In doing so, they have created new codes of luxury that resonate with their sensibilities: darker in aesthetic, assertive in character and bold in design.
Their approach to motorcars is no different, and so, Rolls-Royce has responded accordingly with their Black Badge vehicles. With this new echelon of motorcar marvels, the marque has developed new colour palettes, more technical surface treatments and even more powerful driving experiences without ever compromising the effortless sensibilities that have drawn this bold group of car enthusiasts to the Rolls-Royce brand.
Black Badge, the highly successful alter ego of Rolls- Royce, now represents more than 27% of commissions worldwide. Rolls-Royce debuted Black Badge with Wraith and Ghost in 2016, followed by Dawn in 2017 and then Cullinan in 2019. In 2021, a new, Post Opulent expression of Black Badge, the reinvented Ghost, joined the family.
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. Inthetwelvemonths that this motorcar has been available, it has become one of the fastest-selling products in the manufacturer’s history. This reimagined automobile also started a new design conversation in its relentless pursuit of minimalism and purity. Named ‘Post Opulence’ by Rolls-Royce designers, this aesthetic movement is characterised by reduction and substance. In service to this, exceptional materials are selected and celebrated while overt design is limited, intelligent and unobtrusive.
However, within this group of clients — who celebrate minimalism and material substance — a rebellious subset sought to create a disruptive expression of Ghost by permanently cloaking it in a shade so pure that its very classification as a colour remains a subject of debate: black. Black Badge Ghost reflects these clients’ desires. It is the dark side of Post Opulence: minimalism in extremis.
Clients are free to select any of the marque’s 44,000 existing catalogue of colours or create their own entirely unique Bespoke hue. However, the overwhelming majority of women and men who requested this darker expression of Ghost have selected the signature Black. To create what is the motorcar industry’s darkest black, 45kg of paint is atomised and applied to an electrostatically charged body in white before being oven-dried. The motorcar then receives two layers of a clear coat before being hand-polished by a team of four craftsmen to produce the marque’s signature high-gloss piano finish.
Luxury Through and Through
Advanced luxury materials have been meticulously created and crafted for a unique ambience in the interior suite as well. While recalling the dramatic mechanical intent of Black Badge Ghost, the materials are true to Ghost’s Post Opulent design philosophy. In this spirit, the Rolls- Royce’s craftspeople created a complex but subtle weave that incorporates a deep diamond pattern rendered in carbon and metallic fibres.
Multiple wood layers are pressed onto the interior component substrates, using black Bolivar veneer for the uppermost base layer. This forms a dark foundation for the Technical Fibre layers that follow. Leaves woven from resin-coated carbon and contrasting metal-coated thread laid in a diamond pattern are applied by hand to the components in perfect alignment, creating a three-dimensional effect. To secure this extraordinary veneer, each piece is cured for one hour under pressure at 100°C. This is then sand-blasted to produce a keyed surface for six layers of lacquer, which is hand-sanded and polished before being incorporated into the motorcar.
If specified in the client’s commission, the Technical Fibre ‘Waterfall’ section of the individual rear seats receives the Black Badge family motif: the mathematical symbol representing potential infinity known as a Lemniscate. Rendered in aerospace-grade aluminium on the lid of Black Badge Ghost’s Champagne cooler, it is applied between the third and fourth layer of a total of six layers of subtly tinted lacquer, creating the illusion that the symbol is floating above the Technical Fibre veneer.
Aesthetes from the marque’s design team elected to further enhance the noir ambience of Black Badge Ghost by subduing the brightwork. Air vent surrounds on the dashboard and in the rear cabin are darkened using physical vapour deposition, one of the few methods of colouring metal that ensures parts will not discolour or tarnish over time or through repeated use. The Post Opulent principles of simplicity have also been applied to dramatic effect in the Black Badge Ghost timepiece design: only the tips of the hands and the twelve, three, six and nine o’clock markers are picked out, in a subdued chrome finish, creating a remarkably minimal clock. Other timepieces are available within Black Badge Ghost to suit the client’s aesthetic preference.
The timepiece is flanked by a world-first Bespoke innovation that debuted with the New Ghost: the Illuminated Fascia, which displays an ethereal glowing Lemniscate surrounded by more than 850 stars. As in Ghost, the Lemniscate motif is illuminated via 152 LEDs mounted above and beneath the fascia, each meticulously colour-matched to the cabin’s clock and instrument dial lighting. To ensure the Lemniscate is lit evenly, a two-millimetre-thick light guide is used, featuring more than 90,000 laser-etched dots across the surface. This not only disperses the light evenly but creates a twinkling effect as the eye moves across the fascia, echoing the subtle sparkle of the Shooting Star Starlight Headliner.
Black Badge is not just an aesthetic, though — it is an experience too. The clients who requested this motorcar demanded that the Bespoke treatment of Black Badge Ghost extend from the design atelier into the marque’s engineering department. In doing so, the Bespoke Collective of designers, engineers and craftspeople collaborated to create a vivid driving personality that matched Black Badge Ghost’s visual intent without compromising the brand’s signature effortless ride proclivities and exhaustive acoustic tuning.
Key to its potent character is the Architecture of Luxury, Rolls-Royce’s proprietary all-aluminium spaceframe architecture that debuted with Phantom. This sub-structure not only delivers extraordinary body stiffness, but its flexibility and scalability allowed Ghost to be equipped with all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and the award-winning Planar Suspension system. For Black Badge, these peerless engineering qualities have been comprehensively re-engineered, including fitting more voluminous air springs to alleviate body roll under more assertive cornering.
The capacity of the Rolls-Royce twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12 engine was deemed sufficient. However, the flexibility of this celebrated power plant has been exploited to generate an extra 29PS, creating a total output of 600PS. The sense of a single infinite gear has also been dramatised with the addition of a further 50NM of torque, for a total of 900NM. The powertrain has also received Bespoke transmission and throttle treatments to further enhance the engine’s increased power reserves. The ZF eight-speed gearbox and both front- and rear-steered axles work collaboratively to adjust the levels of feedback to the driver, depending on throttle and steering inputs.
All in all, the Black Badge Ghost represents an unparalleled aesthetic and driving experience, symbolising the pinnacle of a new class of super-luxury products suited to those with subversive spirit
The Black Badge Ghost is now available to purchase from Rolls-Royce Monaco, visit rolls-roycemotorcars.com/monaco for details.