100EX is the first Experimental Car to be produced by Rolls-Royce
Motor Cars since BMW Group became the custodians of the marque in
1998 and launched the all-new Phantom at the company's new home in
Goodwood in January 2003.
Based on a lightweight aluminium space-frame, this open-top,
four-seat, two-door drophead has been designed and produced to
celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Rolls-Royce, which falls in
May 2004. There is no plan to produce it as a series model.
Experimental models have long been a feature of Rolls-Royce,
particularly between 1919 and 1957 when a number of motor cars were
given the ?EX? name. Unlike a concept car, an experimental car
functions more fully and was originally used by Rolls-Royce to test
and evaluate new systems, components and features.
|| 9 ltr
(549.1 cu. in.)
|| 3470 mm
Fuel tank capacity
|| 80 ltr
|| 136.6 IN /
While the design of the 100EX and the choice
of its special construction materials resonate strongly with
Rolls-Royce tradition, both its aesthetic qualities and its
technological content place it squarely in the 21st century. A
strong nautical theme runs throughout, with bleached teak decking
featuring both inside and outside the car. Polished aluminium also
features heavily, particularly on the bonnet and windscreen
surround, while the composite body is finished in Dark Curzon.
The design team that
shaped the new Experimental Car was based in Southern California, at
BMW Group's studio, Designworks, an entirely natural setting for a
luxurious convertible. Here research was conducted into the
Rolls-Royce design language specific to open-top motoring.
"The historical models proved to be truly inspiring," said
Ian Cameron, Chief Designer for Rolls-Royce. "However, our
search was for a design route which combined the brand's wonderful
heritage with a cutting-edge 21st century character."
A number of designs were proposed with the ultimate choices
progressing to the clay stage. After final selection, the build
process began, this time at BMW's specialist design and build
facilities in Munich.
Shorter than the Phantom by 165 mm (6.5 in) and 71 mm (3 in) lower,
the 100EX has a graceful side profile with a characteristic dynamic
rise in the waistline over the rear wheels and lines that sweep
upwards towards the front of the motor car.
"We intended the silhouette to express the performance
potential, yet reflect the effortless composure typical of
Rolls-Royce design rather than the aggressive, forward-wedged stance
of most modern performance cars," explained Exterior Designer,
Marek Djordjevic. "Visually we wanted to build on the
Rolls-Royce tradition of 'waftability', the sense that 100EX has the
power to whisk its passengers swiftly to maximum speed in a truly
To emphasise the bodylines, a polished aluminium waist rail
surrounds the passenger compartment. Hand crafted, bleached teak
decking has been chosen to feature both inside and outside the car,
forming part of a strong maritime theme that runs throughout. On the
exterior it forms a tonneau cover for the folded hood and features
as an inlay in the polished aluminium door cappings. "The
overall impression is intended to be of an elegant motor yacht at
speed", adds Djordjevic.
At the front, a solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy sits on a
progressively rakish version of the traditional Rolls-Royce grille,
blending into the dramatic bonnet which has been milled from a
single aluminium block and brushed to a high sheen. The windscreen
surround and A-pillar, triangulated for exceptional strength, is
also machined from solid aluminium.
The two coach doors of 100EX demonstrate the marriage of form and
function throughout the car. They are large enough to allow
exceptional access for rear-seat passengers, hinged at the rear in
the style of many exceptional pre-war touring cars and like the rear
doors of the new Phantom.
The tailored soft top is made from an advanced material that
incorporates woven wire strands offering strength and all weather
protection. The inside of the hood is lined with a wool/cashmere
blend fabric. Painstaking design of the folding mechanism means the
hood can be concealed in an extremely small storage area, keeping
intrusion into the luggage space to a minimum.
The rear of the motor car tapers in a boat-tail style and the
'countryman' boot lid is split to give a drop-down lower tailgate.
Teak decking extends across the boot floor, providing a table-like
The 100EX is finished in unique Dark Curzon with 21-inch wheels
finished in Meteor Silver.
Charles Coldham explains, "We drew from the design of
contemporary and classic yachts. The result is a thoroughly modern
interior with an unmistakable nautical influence."
The chosen interior wood veneer is figured mahogany. Upholstery and
trim are in rich Dark Curzon leather, while the flooring features
the same bleached teak decking as the tonneau cover for the folded
Specially-designed front seats are included, which are
ultra-supportive but slender, allowing good legroom for rear
passengers. The rear seat itself, while more intimate than that in
the Phantom, is extremely accommodating for two people, with
generous space devoted to passenger comfort, helped by the neat and
space-efficient folding roof mechanism.
The team wanted to create a motor car that gave a 'shared
experience', not something that was solely driver focused. "The
cabin of the 100EX is as much a social environment as the new
Rolls-Royce Phantom, but rather than shutting out the elements, they
are embraced", explains Coldham.
As an experimental
car, the 100EX is developed to a far higher level of engineering
than a typical concept car. The body structure is a development of
the new Phantom's aluminium space-frame, adapted to the different
proportions of the 100EX, which is similar in width to the Phantom,
but 165 mm (6.5 in) shorter and 71 mm (3 in) lower. The wheelbase is
100 mm (4 in) shorter.
The structure gives the 100EX immense strength and rigidity,
something which is clearly vital for an open-top motor car. It also
allows for coach doors to be selected, which are integral to the
design of the motor car and offer the practical benefit of easing
entry and exit. The polished aluminium windscreen surround, with its
triangulated A-pillar, is effectively an exposed part of the
space-frame structure, which provides excellent roll-over
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. Wheels are finished in Meteor Silver,
with a 21-inch diameter, and shod with 255/50 tyres at the front and
285/45 at the rear.
100EX is powered by a 9-litre V16, 64-valve engine. Natural
aspiration was chosen over turbo or supercharging to give the
instant, yet perfectly smooth style of pick-up which has so
impressed in the Phantom. Drive is delivered through a six-speed
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 15, 16 and 17EX,
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.
It is with these important cars in mind that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
has created a new 'EX' to represent the pinnacle of engineering and
coach-building beauty for the 21st century. It is possible that in
the future, as was the case the original EX motor cars, elements of
the technology featured on the 100EX could be developed for new
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars projects.