16 January 2003 | David Arminas
Rolls-Royce has insisted its latest model is British, even though the company is foreign-owned and most of the new car is made in Germany.
A spokesman for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (RRMC) said the £250,000 Phantom, the first car to be produced since it was taken over by BMW in 1998, was unveiled to great acclaim this month in Britain and at the Detroit Motor Show in the United States.
"Its great appeal is that it is very much a British product," he said. "RRMC is a separate British company with a British board.
"Before we had produced a car, many people in the media were saying that anything we made would not be British, but in the US people still recognise it as British."
He stressed that it was designed in Britain and the interior is hand-built by wood and metal craftspeople in the new factory at Goodwood. "The Spirit of Ecstasy, the lady on the front of each Rolls, is hand-made by a family-owned company near Southampton," he added.
He admitted that the engine, a 48-valve, 6.75-litre V12, and bodywork is produced in Germany but by separate companies to BMW. "The bodywork is hand-rolled and nothing comes from an assembly line," he said.
Also at the Detroit Motor Show, BMW's other British icon, the Oxford-produced Mini, became the first non-US and non-Japanese car to be voted North America's Car of the Year.
The Mini is by value 40 per cent UK content and half of its suppliers overall are British.