Born From Heritage: Rolls-Royce’s Black Badge Family

Three exceptional bespoke commissions from prominent clients, Rolls-Royce celebrates the spirit of individuality with its Black Badge series.

Oct 20, 2021 | By Sarah Ridzwan
phantom v 5at30@660x550px
Image: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce is taking a trip down memory lane, by reflecting on its Black Badge legacy with three commissions from prominent clients throughout four decades in its 117-year long history.

The desire for self-expression is intrinsic in all humans. This is one of the reasons why clients are so drawn to Rolls-Royce — offering opportunities to push boundaries and challenge the convention. It is no surprise that the motor car company has been considered a “disruptor” back in the day. 

The Black Badge series of cars are examples of how that rebellious spirit infuses its brand story and continues even in modern times with its Black Badge Family that launched five years ago in 2016. The ultimate expression of individualism, self-expression, and creativity.

The colour black has long been associated with power, strength, and authority and speaks of elegance and confidence. This explains the many notable examples of bespoke Rolls-Royce motor cars finished in black. The following cars span over 30 years and have a special place in Rolls-Royce’s history and demonstrate how each owner took the all-black theme in a unique direction.

1933 – Phantom II Continental (94MY)

rolls royce phantom ii continental 94my
Image: Rolls-Royce

In 1930 at the personal request of Henry Royce, designer Ivan Everdern conceptualised an experimental Phantom II Continental designed for long-distance continental touring. It had a short chassis and close-coupled four-seat saloon body, with the two spare wheels mounted vertically behind the luggage compartment for optimum weight distribution.

The actual car was then built in 1933, for Mr Samuel Coxhill. The adjustable front bucket seats, twin windscreen wipers and flush-fitting direction indicators behind the side windows were all considered unusual during its time period. 

With high performance and a unique personalised finish, this Rolls-Royce car could be considered to embody the spirit of today’s Black Badge.

1960 – Phantom V (5AT30)

rolls royce phantom v 5at30
Image: Rolls-Royce

The Phantom V was launched in 1959 to replace the Silver Wraith. It was primarily designed for chauffeur-driven use. Most of such cars were finished in black and used either for formal occasions or for private use by wealthy families. 

However, one such exception was the 5AT30. Delivered in September 1960 to His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester. The body of the car was based on coachbuilder James Young’s PV15 design and is now regarded as one of the most elegant on the Phantom V chassis.

Although about as ‘establishment ’as it’s possible to be, the Duke clearly had strong ideas about what he wanted in his Phantom V. His most obvious departure from the accepted norm is the paint combination of matte black to the horizontal surfaces and gloss black on the vertical planes. 

Other bespoke customisations include large fog lamps, door-mounted driving mirrors, and sliding shutters to rear windows.

1965 – Phantom V (5VD73)

rolls royce phantom v 5vd73
Image: Rolls-Royce

As a gift to himself, John Lennon ordered a brand new Phantom V in 1964. He wanted the car to be black everywhere, inside and out, including all the brightwork that would normally be finished in chromium plate or stainless steel.

The car was supplied with all-black gloss paintwork, including the wheel discs and bumpers. Only the Pantheon grille and Spirit of Ecstasy mascot were spared at the marque’s insistence. It was one of the first cars in England to have blacked-out windows.

The interior featured black Bedford cord cloth and black nylon rugs in the rear compartment, and black leather in the front. Fitted with a Perdio Portarma television set, and a seven-piece set of black fitted luggage. Supposedly, the car also had a record player, radiotelephone, fridge, and writing table.

The ever-evolving spirit of rebellion continues to be expressed in different and dynamic ways with the Rolls-Royce Black Badge family. Company CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös puts it best, stating that the founders had set the groundwork into making the company the rebellious visionary it is known for since its inception till today.

Rolls-Royce cares about the quality of its cars, and so does Bentley. Bentley’s cars are designed with exceptional comfort and luxury, with extra care to add a human touch to each car. With the help of award-winning architect, Yip Yuen Hong came the Bentley Bentayga V8. A physical embodiment of what craftsmanship means: performance, luxury, and comfort.

French startup company Moonbike will be delivering the world’s first-ever electric snowbike — a bike specifically made for travelling in the snow — by the end of December this year with a second batch available for pre-order, slated to be arriving by early 2022. Both shipments come with an extremely limited number of units, at 250 each.

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