Care, quiet cars: we visited the factory of Rolls – Royce

they say that in the old factory of Rolls – Royce at Crewe poster warned “Careful, quiet cars“. In the current factory at Goodwood is not that the cars are silent, is that the entire string assembly, and, in spite of everything, this is only one of the many details that are impressive to visit the place which makes the luxury cars most famous in the world. If you come with us, we offer a trip by exquisite a workshop of jewelry, in the end, out Rolls – Royce.

In 1998, complicated litigation between BMW and VW for the control of Rolls – Royce left to the first with the exclusive rights to produce cars of the brand from January 2003, but without the factory’s historic Crewe which was in the hands of the second. In those 5 years BMW had to find a new home for cars, the most luxurious in the world and, in a certain way, the process of design and construction of this new factory explains the foundations of the current Rolls – Royce.

The process of design and construction of this new factory explains the foundations of the current Rolls – Royce

The modern factory was installed in Goodwood, to the south of London and a few kilometers from the historic circuit icon of motorsport English. The complex was designed by the team of architects from Nicholas Grimshaw under the premise of being sustainable, and invisible, and if you get the first thing with the same success that the latter should be very sustainable. The main building hardly stands out its profile on the surrounding terrain which, in addition, is covered with a vegetation very thick, so that the reception area remains hidden almost until it is in front. For the sustainability not only took into account the orientation, the lighting, or the use of an artificial lake for cooling, but they installed a roof garden live aislase heat the building, a solution much in vogue in the architecture of the last two decades but are still rare for a car factory. And for that the integration with the green English countryside was a total set up 420 000 plants of 80 different species between trees, shrubs and flowers. The end result is a new home of Rolls – Royce as an external sign of what is intended to be the brand: modernity, sustainability and an up-to-date vision of the british tradition.

718201691916-mdmPerhaps for that intimate connection of England with its rural environment where in West Sussex you knew that a car manufacturer was looking for land to settle in the area the community was suspicious because of the impact that might have on the environment: plant hire the use, as the Nissan in Sunderland, is able to transform physically to always a region.

The Rolls – Royce is not a factory to use: it come only 20 cars a day

Count of March performed for the population as a guarantee of a project so unusual and genuinely English, which finally found support in the community. The differences are substantial: while in Sunderland employs more than 7000 people in Goodwood are only 1600; of the plant of Nissan out 1300 cars a day, of the Rolls – Royce’s only 20. This factory looks more like the exclusive workshops of Hermes that the Nissan Sunderland: when it began production in 2003 of its chain went out 4 units a day and the concept of “hand made” extends to every small detail.

718201692311-mdmthat is why as “the home of Rolls – Royce” is not a factory either in the brand have turned the production into an experience of the process experienced by a customer before purchasing one of their cars. That experience starts traveling (possibly with a chauffeur and aboard a Phantom like we did) until the same door through which access visits. The reception space is filled with natural light (even in the difficult british weather) spacious and full of details large and small with those who receive the visits, from the exclusive Dawn of 1950 until the simple pen from the sign-in book in which support is read the phrase of Henry Royce “Whatever is well done, however humble, is noble”. Just behind the reception is a stunning Wraith Black Badge and something that looks like a car for kids but it has a lot more substance: it is a vehicle for the careers of Gravity that you used the mark in the “Goodwood Soapbox2002… to win it. This small appliance without motor is the last Rolls – Royce to have won a car race, but as in 2002, BMW still could not use the logos of the brand on the nose of this fast toy appears the inscription “Rolling Racer” accompanied by a question mark.

718201691742-mdmThe access area is surrounded by several spaces dedicated to receiving customers, rooms look modern, but in the decoration of which abound in images of characters, models, and historic moments from the brand. The hallways leading to other offices, and private spaces are also lined with exclusive photographs created by the various artists commissioned by the brand.

Not by chance in the reception are abundant historical images while in the production area there are modern works of art and references to technical excellence

The message of the blend between modernity and tradition is felt in every corner of the factory, and also the intention to convey that there are not produce normal cars: to manufacture a Rolls – Royce is special.

therefore, after passing through the offices and the canteen and crossing the gate gives access to the production zone, the feelings are confusing. It is known that it is a factory because we see the bodies along the assembly lines, but the sound, the light, the space and the pace at which everything happens makes you think rather that it is a shop of luxury accessories. The visits entering through an upper floor composed by corridors and walkways that give access to the offices of technical areas, but from which you contemplate a bird’s eye view of the two lines that circulate the Rolls – Royce.

upon entering is a huge mural of the 103EX (with which we didn’t agree for few days) placed next to one of the rest areas. Just beyond a large work of the artist Carlos Rolón/Dzine reinterprets colourfully the “Spirit of ecstasy” in front of another of those areas where the staff of the factory takes a break. I could not ask any of the workers what they felt to be surrounded by these works of art, but surely in the eyes of one of the exquisite customers who visit the factory before you buy a car these pieces multiply the experience and its evocative power. Interestingly, but not coincidentally, at the reception are abundant historical images of vehicles of the brand while in the area of production are modern works of art and references to technical excellence. A visual message.

718201615402-mdmThe production is organized in two chains, one for the Ghost, Wraith and Dawn, and the other for the Phantom. In them is done in the assembly of car bodies, transmissions and trains rolling, in addition to the interior finish. One of the reasons for the the absence of noise – general on the ground is that the engines and chassis are detached from Munich on a long journey by land and sea, which eliminates all the machinery of stamping and the need to transport heavy materials in the factory british.

The care in the production of a Rolls – Royce is understood to be still before you begin to assemble your parts. After the painting process (which is up to 7 layers depending on the finish) each body is polished by hand before entering the assembly line and re-polished when the car is finished. “We use machines in the paint, but also there do the finishes by hand because the robots do not reach optimally all angles,” says our guide James Donelly to clarify that the human hand is involved in all the processes of the assembly of a Rolls – Royce into the factory, despite the help of machines. It is something important to the slogan “hand-made” but in the end, the quality of one of these cars, the care and level of excellence that carries out the processes in this factory is very high.

7182016154259-mdmEach one of these cars go for about 16 hours in the assembly line, although the complete cycle of manufacturing ranges between 5 and 11 days in function of the levels of customization or the type of paint. One of the most important steps in the chain is the assembly of the body with the engine and the train rolling, so-called “marriage“. It is a process carried out by several people handling elevators and platforms that help to this assembly, but the assembly is produced with so much softness, so much care and as little noise which truly conveys the impression that each car is a unique piece hand made. The final polishing takes 5 hours of work in a space massively illuminated with white light, seen from the outside, like something out of a science fiction movie… just so you can appreciate every little imperfection that has to be corrected in the surface of a Rolls – Royce.

7182016154530-mdmBespoke is one of the parts of manufacturing that have more of a presence in each of the areas. When we visited the plant, for example, are completing the last two units of the famous order of 31 Phantom the employer Stephen Hung commissioned for your hotel Louis XIII in Macau. For them we created a tone of red exclusive that, as James says with his scottish accent was not the only original color of the round: The Phantom number 31 was painted with the color “Rose, Deborah” for the model and businesswoman Deborah Valdez, wife of Mr. Hung.

718201691641-mdmThe customization of the cars goes so far as the client is willing to pay and the technical scope.

When we visited the plant were finishing the last two units of the order of 30 Phantom made by the entrepreneur Stephen Hung

The colors come up to 44000, the body lines are hand painted with any motif raised by the client and the tires can have the color you want, as in the Phantom of Mr. Hung that are golden, and with the red interior. But a Rolls – Royce is not complete if it is not “dress” in it. The workshop trim the upholstery is a whole “atelier” in the the pieces are marked and cut with laser, but are selected, inspected, sewn and assembled by hand. The decorated ceilings of the Ghost, Wraith and Phantom, that contain 1000 crystals from Swarovski, and in some cases reproduce the sky of the date of the birth of their buyers, they are hand assembled on the same assembly line, a few meters from where the “marriage” between the bodywork, the engine and the transmission. In the woods involved specialists marqueteros that selected the pieces of wood at hand to compose the interior of a car that may contain up to 46 different pieces.

7182016154732-mdmIn this section there is a consistent message about the sustainability in the use of natural materials. For each tree that is cut for the wooden interiors are planted 5 and the cows that are used in the upholstery are not bred just to use their skins but beef cows (used 12 skins for each interior of a car). The leather and wood continue to be synonyms of luxury in the manufacturing of cars, but maybe with a brand as exclusive as Rolls – Royce could dream of with a the greatest sign of sustainability as a luxury: the preparation of skins and synthetic logs that do not leave animals or living trees.

7182016153937-mdmEventually the cars come out of the chain. Is a brief test of 15 miles to verify that everything works correctly and are ready for their owners. The customers will be received in the “Cabinet of Charles Rolls“, a room filled with items evocative of the history of the brand from the that, in solemn form, will result in the encounter with your car. A unique piece created-to-measure and built with a quality unusual in the automotive world.

7182016153852-mdmThe delivery is an experience that we could not live… but we don’t stop dreaming about her.

Photos: motor
We tested the Rolls – Royce Dawn: the sky as the only roof