Rolls-Royce has announced production of the current Phantom will end later this year, ahead the next-generation¬†car’s launch in 2018. The Drophead and Coupe versions won’t be replaced.

The current Rolls-Royce Phantom – the seventh generation in a line that stretches back to 1925 – was launched in 2003, the first Rolls designed entirely under BMW ownership and built in a brand-new factory on the Goodwood estate.

Rolls has always claimed its cars were the best in the world but, for the preceeding few¬†decades, that wasn’t really the case. The Phantom, which was state-of-the-art at the time, put the marque back on top by a clear margin. Sure, the styling wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but that didn’t stop well over a thousand people buying one every year, ensuring Rolls’ long-term survival (and the failure of Mercedes’ Maybach experiment).

13 years and one facelift later it’s still a fabulous thing but getting rather long in the tooth. An all-new replacement using an aluminium platform is already in development and due for launch in 2018. The long-awaited Rolls-Royce SUV is also expected to arrive in 2018, so it’ll be a busy year.

It isn’t entirely clear why production is ending before that time but the Ghost, Wraith and new Dawn convertible are providing more than enough work to keep the factory going in the meantime.

Production of the Phantom Drophead and Coupe also ends this year. Neither will be replaced, so Rolls is sending them off with a run of 50 Zenith editions which are described as “the sum of all [their] best features.”

Additions to the Zenith include a fold-down ‘tailgate hosting area’; bespoke instrument dials, a special finish on the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine; armrests laser etched with a depiction of the launch locations (Villa d’Este for the Drophead, Geneva for the Coupe); and a “money cannot buy portable momento.” Whatever that is. No word on what price the Zenith editions carry, but safe to call it ‘vast’.

For more information click here

Graham King