Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has unveiled an experimental motor car - the 100EX. This special model has been designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rolls-Royce, which falls on May 4th this year. It will appear at various events throughout 2004 to help mark the centenary.
Based on a lightweight aluminium spaceframe, the 100EX is an open-top, four-seat, two-door drophead and is the first experimental motor car to be produced by Rolls-Royce since the launch of the all-new Phantom in January 2003.
The exterior design of the motor car plays between large surfaces and fine detailing, featuring the characteristic dynamic rise in waistline over the rear wheels and graceful lines that sweep up towards the front.
A polished aluminium waist rail surrounds the passenger compartment, set off against Dark Curzon paintwork. Coach doors, hinged at the back like the rear doors on the new Phantom, add to the elegant side profile, while allowing exceptional access to the rear seat.
At the front, a solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy sits atop a more progressive version of the Rolls-Royce grille. This blends into the bonnet and windscreen surround, both of which have been milled from solid blocks of aluminium before being hand polished.
Bleached teak decking is used on the exterior and interior of the 100EX, notably on the tonneau cover, in the boot and in place of carpeting in the passenger cabin. "The overall impression is intended to be of an elegant motor yacht at speed", said Marek Djordjevic, Chief Stylist, Exterior Design.
The rear of the motor car tapers into a boat-tail style and features the 'countryman' boot, split to give a separate lower tailgate which, when down, provides a completely flat surface, ideal for picnics or as an elevated platform with its inlaid fibre matting.
A tailored soft top made from a new advanced material, featuring fine metallic threads, protects passengers from the elements. Inside, the hood is lined with the familiar cashmere/wool blend fabric seen in the Phantom. Painstaking design of the folding mechanism means the hood can be concealed in an extremely small storage area, keeping intrusion into the luggage and passenger space to a minimum.
Figured Mahogany is used for the interior cabinetry, complemented by a special metallic finish which is used in a swathe across the dashboard and in the finer detailing. Sculptured seats are finished in rich Dark Curzon leather, with additional leatherwork in contrasting aniline tan.
Suspension and steering geometry are shared with the new Phantom: double wishbone front and multi-link rear axles, with air springs, and rack and pinion steering though it is shorter by 165 mm (6.5 in) and 71 mm (3 in) lower. The 100EX sits upon 21-inch wheels finished in Meteor Silver. Power is supplied by a 9-litre V16, 64-valve naturally aspirated engine.
Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chairman and CEO, Tony Gott, said, 'It is always exciting to unveil something new at a motor show, but particularly something as fresh and innovative as the 100EX. In wanting to mark this very special year we decided that there would be no better way than to revive the EX motor cars philosophy and produce something unique to show around the world.'
There is no plan to produce the 100EX as a series model.
Historical perspective on the 100EX:
Experimental manufacture of motor cars and engines has long been a Rolls-Royce tradition. In 1919 the 1EX was produced, based on a Silver Ghost chassis. It was the first in a long line of EX cars that spanned almost 40 years, ending with the 45EX in 1958. It was the larger cars, like the Silver Ghost and the Phantom, which were given the 'EX' denomination while the smaller experimental models were given the letter 'G', standing for Goshawk. Many notable EX motor cars were made.
These include the 15EX, 16EX and 17EX models, which were based on the Phantom chassis and, in 1927, given to coachbuilders Hooper, Barker and Jarvis, respectively, in a competitive quest to produce a lightweight Phantom sports model.
In 1930 Henry Royce began a project to develop more powerful engines with even greater refinement. He contemplated building a 16 cylinder engine, but settled on V12 configuration, as being half way between a six and 16 cylinder engine which, at the time, he considered the two ends of the possible spectrum for Rolls-Royce motor car application. Up to this point the Phantom I and II were powered by straight six cylinder engines.