Ultra-luxury and menacing menace combine in Rolls-Royce’s new Ghost Black Badge
Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge is on the super bad end of the luxury scale, the latest in the company’s darkly desirable special series
There is something dark and mysterious brewing at the heart of Rolls-Royce. Since 2016, the company has abandoned its traditional prudence and reserve and has incorporated what it calls “Black Badge” models into its range. While almost all luxury manufacturers have a special designation or division for boosted and highly specified performance models, Rolls-Royce has chosen to be a little different. The Black Badge series is not explicitly about performance but styling, taking the company’s undeniably rich approach to automotive construction and adding a layer of mystery and, dare we say, threat.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Badge Black
While not as obvious, Black Badge also means an increase in performance. The company is notoriously reluctant to divulge vulgar things like horsepower and performance stats, but Black Badge cars have received a little boost in the form of more horsepower and torque, as well as a ‘Low’ mode. dedicated that keeps the gears a bit longer and makes the exhaust just a bit stronger.
There is also sharp handling and suspension. Make no mistake, however, this is not a sports car. The power seems almost limitless, especially at full throttle on a deserted British track, but the reality is that hauling such a big car at around 140mph in such a short time is impressive but also somewhat redundant in the modern world.
The company traces the history of the Black Badge to the bespoke models of its past with sober and all-black colors. These include a 1933 Continental Phantom II with Barker & Co bodywork and a 1960 Phantom V owned by the Duke of Gloucester, one of the first luxury cars to combine matte black and black. brilliant.
In the 1960s, John Lennon also ordered a blacked-out Phantom V, with a black finish that extended to dark windows and black chrome accents (the company refused to allow the Spirit of Ecstasy grille and mascot to receive this processing). This particular car was eventually transformed with a vivid psychedelic color scheme, for which it rightfully remains famous.
The new Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge is now joining the range, alongside the Black Badge versions of the Cullinan, Wraith and Dawn. The Rolls-Royce Ghost is the most advanced Rolls on the market, aimed at customers who are more likely to want to drive themselves and who tend to be a bit younger than the company’s traditional customer base.
In fact, the Rolls driver is getting younger and younger from year to year, an indication of general UHNWI trends and the (not) surprising amount of wealth still flowing in the world system. The Black Badge aesthetic is particularly on-trend, certainly in the midst of the stratospheric realm of the super rich, where glossy, matte blacks pop up on everything from superyachts to wristwatches.
“People want to be the bad guy again, not Bond,” a Rolls-Royce spokesperson told us; one wonders if the slightly demonic image that Black Badge projects holds a mirror in the soul of its customers. One of the reasons the company went down this dark path was to counter the plethora of aftermarket accessories that had become available, frustrating the purity of the original designs with questionable and tasteful extras.
Black Badge models now account for just over a quarter of the company’s annual sales, which is an interesting case study for luxury retail psychologists. Maybe 27% of Rolls-Royce customers yearn for this kind of neo-mephistophelic, Succession-esque image.
Like many very expensive things, Black Badge is only really released to connoisseurs, as it is a very minimal approach to maximalism. The available colors tone down the exterior treatment of the car by minimizing glossy work. The deep, deep black paint has been hand polished until it looks like a puddle of dark liquid. This can be strongly contrasted with a bright interior color scheme, making the leather stand out like a jewelry box, with trim finished with glossy woven carbon fiber fasteners and dark metals.
There are other flashes of color in the form of the painted car line and colorful brake calipers. Designer Henry Cloke has spoken about the company’s “post-opulent” design philosophy before, but it may still seem confusing to the 99%. And depending on the context and the environment, post-opulence can also seem rather threatening. You can never be truly anonymous in a Rolls.
On the road, pampered by the darkness and the rain, soothed by the sparkling view of the starry sky and the soft glow of the decorative instruments, the Ghost Black Badge takes on its full meaning. There’s a V12 up front, but you wouldn’t know it, it’s so quiet in operation. “Low” mode or not, you never run out of power, but the ambience, scale and opulence encourage majestic progress, not crass jostling. The Ghost is likely to be the last big new Rolls-Royce to be conventionally powered. The company’s very first pure electric vehicle, the Specter, was recently announced ahead of production in 2023 and more models will follow, including – it is assumed – the very first electric Phantom.
Rest assured, the company will continue to build Black Badge versions of these EVs to satisfy those dark desires. And with an almost complete absence of sound, the Black Badge of the future will offer true stealth richness, especially if you drive it at night. §