It’s morning Dawn in America. And I have a new favorite Rolls. This is the Rolls Royce Spectre Dawn. Same basic proportions as a Phantom Drophead, without the 10/8ths ginormity.
Same understated departure view. If you’re not being coddled inside, it’s all about watching the Rolls roll up, anyway.
The rear is one of my favorite views, because of what this car is and what it is not. In many ways, it is a topless Wrath. The most important difference (to me) is it loses is the mullet. That is the major shade I have for the Wraith: Business in front; party in the back. The Dawn is simply unobtainable elegance. No gimmicks, no cringes.
I want to like this car. I do. 1,500 horsepower out of 8.0 liters is amazing. That is way better specific output than my 123 hp out of 999 cc. It’s more than 7 times the power of the 8.2L V8 in a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado. In theory, it can go 260 mph. So, respect is not an issue. Objectively, it’s a marvel.
Subjectively, I am torn between love and hate with this pre-production model…
So here we go:
I applaud the use of obnoxious, flamboyant colors. I‘m on record with this. I hate this specific lighter blue. It’s awful. Plus, as far as I can tell, the fender extends seamlessly from door to grille. Presumably, this is some exotic metal over the carbon fiber monocoque, but in person and even on “film,” the color and the styling combine to say “plastic!” (Pic. 1)
The center spine is glorious. Now it repeats on the roof, down a support splitting the engine banks, and onto the spoiler. (Pic. 1,6)
Likewise, the A-pillar to B-pillar to intake to grille curve. Glorious. (Pics 4 and 5) Except for the abrupt end at the grille. (1) Look too at that rear flank line, expressed through the curve to the door. (5)
But back to the nose and that paint. I look at the light buckets and see Chrysler Concorde (3) and 3rd generation Prelude (1,2). Thematically, I see Ferrari 360 and C5 Corvette in the headlight treatment – body colored instead of set off somehow. (1)
Relatedly, the Chiron has 10 heat exchangers and 7 intakes. (Possibly 9 if the B-pillar scoop counts as two on each side.(Pic. 4)) Scoops and grilles are cool as hell, especially on ultracars like this. So why deemphasize the ones inboard of the headlights? (Pic. 2) I don ‘t get why they don’t get the “hey, look at me treatment.”
Those rims! (2) It’s a rolling Rorschach test: Do you see a 5 point stub-ended star or a ring with 5 chevrons? (There is a MPG joke in there somewhere.) Either way, the impossibly thin and delicate machined surface is what that emphasizes, not the center.
I’m just not feeling the tail. The light is cool, but so disconnected to curves of the side. The center panel looks like a giant license plate bracket/light brace in the middle of a gaping map of air outlets. It’s hard to get a read on it.
My real bitch about this car is that the configurator is not online yet so all you can do is rotate between a few color combos. Evidently the lowest skirts, the B-pillar inside the curve and the back panel all only come in one color.
So there you have it. I am excited to see a real one out on the street, and to see how they get personalized by real owners.
This is the 1977 Ford Thunderbird. Larry at Upjohn had one, yellow with brown velour seats. “Cramped back seat.” That was the official reason we couldn’t have one in a 4 teenager household.
At the time, I thought these were cool. I liked the 1978s better because they had Thunderbird logos on the headlight covers. Ideally, mine would be midnight blue and chamois. [Ed.: It was a thing.]
These were wildly successful for Ford. The previous generation was blobby and overwrought, on top of fat and slow. These were crisp and underpowered and mostly slow. Except in NASCAR form. Or when flogged by Car and Driver. A great car for the disco era, but it’s pretty transparent as a cosmetic burnish. What’s cool is how it echoes the brand and corporate styling cues of the time. What is not so cool for this period is that the only things making this a “Thunderbird” and not an LTD II Landau Brougham or a Lincoln Mark V Junior, are the badges (the words and the birds).
Yes, the greenhouse is unique. Basket handle B pillar treatments are not inherently Thunderbirdian. It just identifies it as a T-bird because the T-bird is the only model on the lot with that look.
And, cynically, it disguises the profile, so as to not be equated with its twin under the skin when pitching that sticker price.