The Regal Rolls with a Murderous Edge
Joshua Wilkes | 1998 Rolls Royce Silver Spirit | @bo05t_wj
The cover boy for Issue 9, Josh and his stunning blacked-out, bagged and overall brilliant Rolls-Royce, were selected by you as our first ever car of the month. Whilst the level of competition was high, pulling in 43% of the combined vote catapulted Josh to the top spot.
If you didn't manage to get your hands on a copy of Issue 9 either from the stores or online unfortunately you've missed out as they are now completely unavailable. What is good, however, is that we can now feature Josh's Rolls online for all to read, and whilst the regal roller has been attracting a wave of interest on social media, beginning a build like this was no easy feat:
"I always wanted a car that would be unique and would stand out. I found this on eBay and traveled a 90-minute round journey 3 times before deciding go for it".
Unique is certainly what Josh received in grabbing himself a piece of luxury automotive history. Yet for anybody who has owned a modern-classic luxury car, they are a more labour-heavy investment in that the maintenance required is more frequent. Additionally, due to the exclusivity of the item at hand, fixing issues when they do arise can be complex and costly. A quick online search and the cost to rebuild / recondition the climate control unit in the Rolls could set you back more than the price of a decent hatchback.
Therefore knowing your way around a car is a must for maintaining a classic big-body bruiser, but what about modifying one?
"The difficulties with the car are that everything I want to do has to be custom made. It does mean that the possibilities are endless once I figure out how to make it work."
As I say this really is a build that's not for the faint-hearted and needs someone knowledgable who's prepared to take risks. None more so, than with the audacious idea to slam just shy of 2.3 tonnes of beautiful British metal onto the cobbles:
"I'd never had air ride before but the arch gap was big enough to live in and I wanted to retain the comfort and drive-ability whilst achieving the stance I wanted."
There are very few people in this world who would be prepared to make the same decision as Josh but with risk can often come reward. For Josh, this reward comes through a sense of awe and amazement he so often receives when out on his travels.
"Looking out over the huge bonnet and seeing the Spirit of Ecstasy is a feeling that never gets old. Seeing how amazed people are when they see the car and seeing the looks on their faces every journey is a pleasure."
Is there any better feeling for a petrol-head than seeing members of the public marvel at their creation? Potentially inspiring the next generation to take up our same passion as they wedge their heels into the ground on a shopping trip with their parents to ensure they don't miss you as you drive past. It's as if the Spirit of Ecstasy herself glides past with a wand of awe and captivates the imagination of all whom she passes.
She certainly captivated her creator. Becoming the world's most recognisable hood ornament and a symbol for modern opulence across the globe, the inception of the figure is one that deserves it's very own Hollywood blockbuster.
The inspiration behind the figure was originally devised by the 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu to act as a unique mascot for his 1909 Silver Ghost. The mascot was designed by a friend of his - Charles Sykes - who it is believed, modelled the figure on Eleanor Velasco Thornton, the secretary and lover of the Baron.
Upon completion of the ornament it was entitled 'The Whisper' as it depicted a young woman in flowing robes placing one fore-finger to her lips.
A flurry of self-commissioned hood ornaments led Rolls-Royce to design their very own standardised figure in order to ensure their ethos was recognised on every production model, and avoid any distasteful personalised renders.
Rolls-Royce's very own Claude Johnson (often referred to as the hyphen in the manufacturer's name) enlisted Sykes to design what we now know to be the Spirit of Ecstasy - a lady who has chosen road travel as her expressed delight; arms stretched wide and eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead.
The very first Spirit of Ecstasy ornament was fixed upon Rolls-Royce radiators in 1911.
4 years later however, and the two original influencers of the ornament were struck with tragedy. Eleanor Thornton was tragically killed on the 30th December 2015 when sailing aboard the SS Persia which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Crete. Baron Montagu miraculously survived the tragic events when he was rescued after spending several days adrift at sea.
Josh is now a proud owner of part of that history and pedigree and seeing the figure every moment you drive reminds you of that fact. The ornament for the ultimate enjoyment of driving was pushed to her limits when (believe it or not) Josh took the Rolls for a spin around the silky smooth tarmac of the race track:
"It was amazing fun around the track! A little tricky with the huge amount of body roll but has to be the most fun I've had driving the car."
Ever the risk taker, how many of us could say we would take a +2 tonne 90's classic around a race circuit. Personally I feel for the tyres as keeping the weight and power poised around the track would have been a job unbeknown to most.
Realistically speaking, this is a car that's all about the laid-back, low, sophisticated, and intimidating life. It's blacked-out but regal edge makes it imposing and a real presence that dominates it's own space. The bellow from the 6.75l V8 with custom 2.5" exit exhaust would scare most who heard it. The banded steels, chunky tyres, tints, and sun-strip give it a slightly ghetto edge...
...It's gangster, villainous and damn right marvellous.
"I've always had a black car. Whilst it's a pain to keep clean, it gives the car a gangster status."
Now that Josh has got the exterior where he wants it to be, the interior and engine will be receiving the attention, with the intention on upping the power and modernising the cockpit. This fusion of modern meets retro is already on display outside the car with the creation of the fantastic LED headlights which retain the original styling of the Rolls. Anywhere this can be replicated inside the car will only add to it's sensationally glorious appeal.
Overall this Rolls is a fantastic example of taking risks and doing something very, very different. It's been built with care and poise and the execution is simply stunning. It combines the heritage and classic nature of this 90's icon with the murderous, grungy, and gangster-esque styling with plenty of modern day technological flare. All of this wrapping up a beastly 6.75l V8 means this is definitely a terrifying yet glorious wonder to behold.
"I love doing what has not been done before... being the guy with the bagged Rolls."
6.75l V8 with 240bhp
Wheels & Tyres:
10" Wide Banded Steels
2.5" Stainless Exhaust w/ Bespoke Stainless Manifolds, Cut-Out Valves & Side Exit
4 Barrel Holly Carburettor
Custom Front Splitter
Custom Side Skirts
Custom LED Headlights
Star Light Headlining
12.2" Head Unit w/ Custom Dashboard
Custom Boot Build