‘A state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense.’
There’s no escaping the term ‘luxury’ these days. And while it was once only reserved for the most exclusive goods, now it’s commonplace in every walk of life. Luxury toilet paper? Why the hell not, I’ve earn’t it. Especially after that luxury cheese hamper which seemed like a brilliant idea last night.
We’re all a bit guilty of it, too. Luxury should be aspirational; it should be a treat. But thanks to that demon known as social media, no longer is it enough to simply enjoy the finer things in life. The rest of the world must know and react accordingly, or else it’s been a waste of money, right? Gotta flex for the ‘gram.
It seems fairly perplexing, then, to see that Rolls-Royce – the most name-dropped brand in #LuxuryLifestyle content – seems to be pursuing the complete opposite with their social media.
And not in a ‘look at us putting an expensive car next to graffiti’ vibe; that’d be obvious and overdone. Instead, they’ve drawn parallels with certain aspects of car culture which, depending on how susceptible you are, could be translated into how they build their own cars.
‘Rolls-Royce presents Californian Lowriders’ is exactly as the name suggests – a short but sweet look into the world of lowriding using a er… Black Badge Cullinan as the centrepiece amongst a sea of Chevy Impalas.
Unfortunately, this particular film doesn’t feature said Cullinan sitting on Dayton wires and hydros. But what it does highlight is pin-striping, engraved metalwork and – most importantly of all – Lloyd Koehler’s 1961 Chevy Impala – a home-built low-low residing in Long Beach, California which ticks all of the ‘I-want-to-drive-down-Sunset-Boulevard-hitting-switches’ boxes.
Having shot with Lloyd and the guys from Plato O Plomo last year, my immediate takeaway was just how much of a lifestyle lowriding is for them. This isn’t some façade for Insta; everything they’re doing is authentic. You could take away the likes and followers tomorrow and they’d still be doing the exact same thing.
If you’re wondering where the connection between Rolls-Royce and lowriders comes from, it’s not that farfetched once you put aside the cost element for a second. In their most basic forms, both are established on the freedom of expression combined with the ability to personalise using proper craftsmanship in the process. An Impala like Lloyd’s will run into tens of thousands of dollars and an equal number of hours, too. Yet you wouldn’t dismiss it for being too expensive or a waste of time. It’s a piece of automotive art, imagined and realised by Lloyd over the course of many years.
That being said, you can’t overlook the golden elephant in the room. A typical Rolls-Royce customer owns, on average, six cars. Personalisation is high on their agenda, and the USP that ‘no request is too much’ absolutely rings true. One of Japan’s most eminent Sumo wrestlers was so eager the drinks holder in his car would perfectly accommodate his favourite beverage, his dealer flew with a can of soda to the Bespoke Design Studio at Goodwood to ensure the dimensions were correct.
That request was relatively simple compared to the South African customer who had 1,000 ethically-sourced diamonds crushed into a fine powder before incorporating it within the car’s paintwork. Still not Gucci enough? The Rolls-Royce team even converted the entire boot of a Phantom Drophead Coupe into a refrigerator to ensure the owner’s favourite champagne collection reached their yacht at the perfect temperature.
You’ll either look at those kinds of facts in utter amazement, or utter disgust. But there’s much more to Rolls-Royce than the absurd wealth.
Seventy percent of all the cars produced since 1909 remain on the road. That 6.75-litre V12 had to sustain 750-million rotations before being put into production, and so violent was the suspension testing of the Phantom Extended Wheelbase it actually triggered a seismometer 20-miles away from Goodwood. Much like Lloyd’s lowrider, every piece has been painstakingly assembled to the highest quality imaginable. And regardless of personal taste, that level of detail demands respect.
It’s what fundamentally unites us as car people in the tuning industry. It doesn’t matter if you want to go faster, lower or louder than anyone else, your car is an extension of your personality that defines you as an individual. You’re telling people a little bit about yourself before they’ve even said hello. And if a mainstream brand like Rolls-Royce wants to celebrate that with cars like these, that can’t be a bad thing, can it?