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Rolls Royce 100 EX

Broadcast dates : 4th July 2004
8th July 2004

Strive for perfection in everything that you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it doesn't exist, design it.

That was the company credo given by Sir Henry Royce a century ago, when Rolls Royce was founded in England at the beginning of the twentieth century.

And this experimental Rolls-Royce 100 EX could well lay claim to living up to those ideals.

Based on an aluminium space-frame chassis with a steel and aluminium convertible body, the 100 EX is the first experimental car to be built by Rolls Royce since its take-over by BMW in 1998.

Rolls Royce makes the distinction between an experimental car and a concept car. This experimental car is a fully-functional car, rather than a show car embodying concepts that may never be used in production.

The 100 EX is based on the Roll-Royce Phantom sedan, the first BMW-managed Rolls-Royce model.

But it is some one hundred and sixty five millimeters shorter than the Phantom, substantially lower, and embodies a strong nautical theme in its styling.

Designed by BMW's Design Studio in California, the car is the first convertible since the Corniche models of over a decade ago.

And as California is the home of the convertible, the Rolls-Royce management felt it was appropriate that an experimental convertible had its conceptualisation in the land of surf and sun.

The nautical theme is shown in the use of aluminium on the bonnet and on the cockpit surrounds. This is carried through by the use of bleached teak decking inside and outside the car.

Aluminium billet is used on the windscreen frame and also on the waste rail that runs around the car.

The bonnet is created by milled aluminium, and topped off by a solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy radiator mascot.

The radiator grille has also been given a more 21st century look and more sporty than the dominant grille seen on the latest imposing Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The convertible soft-top is crafted from an advanced fabric using woven wire fibres, giving it great strength. The hood is lined with cashmere in the interior.

An interesting feature of the boot area is that it features a split opening. The lower half can be lowered like a tailgate, and this too is lined with teak decking, creating a sort of picnic table area.

Another interesting theme is the hinging of the doors. These are hinged at the rear, giving the car the famous "suicide door" look popular in the 1930s.

Mahogany wood is used for the interior wood trim, along with Curzon leather in some eye-catching colours.

Powering this imposing car, with its 21-inch aluminium-machined wheels, is a nine-littre v16 engine.

This is naturally aspirated, rather than using a turbocharger or supercharger. Rolls Royce feels that this large-capacity engine is more in keeping with its reputation for effortless power. It uses a six-speed automatic gearbox.

While many of the slightly fussy themes of the 100EX will be discarded, it is almost certain that a car based on this experimental version will make it into production.

Since the demise of the Corniche nearly two decades ago there has been a strong demand for an open-air Rolls Royce.

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