Rolls-Royce Black Badge speaks to the darker, more assertive, confident and demanding aesthetic of younger multimillionaire customers. As a boldly bespoke response to their design desires, the interplay of brand and fan has had a transformative effect on the appearance and substance of Rolls-Royce Ghost (reviewed here in “non-Black” Series II form) and Wraith. The result is Ghost Black Badge and Wraith Black Badge.
At first glance, the saloon and coupe offer very distinctive, common visual cues to their nature. But below the surface, these are two very different beasts of the night.
Together with the Parthenon Grille, the famous Double R logo and the Spirit of Ecstasy (read about the Spirit of Paddington here) are the very embodiment of the Rolls-Royce brand. However, these treasured symbols of the marque have been willing to change their identity in appropriate circumstances before. This time, they have undergone a “Black” transformation.
The famous “Flying Lady” has changed neither in design, posture nor material, but in colour to represent the owner’s dark obsession. She has mutated into a high-gloss black vamp, proudly scything through the night-time cityscape. The Double R badge on the prow, flanks and aft of every Black Badge motor car has been inverted to become silver on black, whilst chrome surfaces such as the front grille surround, boot lid finisher, lower air inlet finisher and exhaust pipes, have turned dark.
The “dark” effect extends to new composite carbon fibre and lightweight alloy wheels, unique to each Ghost Black Badge and Wraith Black Badge commissioned. Developed by Rolls-Royce over four years, the new wheels feature 22 layers of carbon fibre laid in three axes, folded back on themselves at the outer edges of the wheel rim to provide 44 layers of strength. Further strength is added via the 3D-forged, aircraft-grade, aluminium hub which is bonded to the rim using aerospace-strength titanium fasteners.
Black Badge also brings the colour black to incredible levels of intensity. The multiple layers of paint and lacquer that go into creating Black Badge Black are repeatedly hand-polished – the most exacting painting and polishing process ever used for a solid paint colour. The result is the deepest, darkest and most intense black ever seen on a production car body.
Possibilities become limitless inside the Black Badge cabin as it is suffused with a darker re-interpretation of pure luxury, inspired by Rolls-Royce’s advanced materials and aerospace heritage.
The centrepiece of the Black Badge cabin is the aerospace-grade aluminium-threaded carbon fibre composite surfacing – material often seen on the surfaces of stealth aircraft. This futuristic material has been reinterpreted at Goodwood to become the world’s most innovative new super-luxury material.
To create this beautiful material, threads of aircraft-grade aluminium just 0.014mm in diameter are painstakingly woven together before being bonded with carbon fibre. This surface material then has six coats of lacquer applied, is left to cure for 72 hours, after which it is hand-polished to a mirror finish.
In addition, the air vents on the dashboard and in the rear cabin of Black Badge motor cars have been darkened through the use of Physical Vapour Deposition. This surfacing method is one of the few ways to colour metal whilst ensuring that the parts will neither discolour nor tarnish over time or through repeated use.
Set into the fascia is a newly created Black Badge clock, whose hands are tipped in orange and whose face is adorned by the “Unlimited” rating infinity logo that previously appeared in the celebrated Phantom Drophead Waterspeed, created in 2014 to celebrate the daring of world speed record champion Sir Malcolm Campbell.
The “Unlimited” infinity logo is also embroidered on the Black Badge’s upholstery, whose black leather has been combined with vibrant colours of Tailored Purple in Ghost Black Badge and Cobalto Blue in Wraith Black Badge, delivering a edgier feel to the cabin.
The final touch is the moody light cast from the black starlight headliner and reflected around the cabin from the polished fascia, to create a darkly atmospheric ambience.