Rolls Royce Wraith
The Wraith is derived from the Ghost, but it has its own distinct—some might say sporting—personality. With a 624-hp version of the Ghost’s V-12, the wheelbase is shorter and the fastback body is unique. The Wraith is quicker and more nimble than the Ghost, with a light touch to the steering and a gently controlled ride. Rolls tradition abounds, with rear-hinged power doors, the available Starlight headliner, and an array of options that can launch the already-lofty base price into high orbit.
It is a historical curiosity that when Rolls-Royce first used the Wraith name way back in the late 1930s, the company sold only the running chassis. Independent coachbuilders supplied the bodies, built to reflect the owner’s particular (and sometimes peculiar) taste. These days, the new Wraith’s running gear traces its ancestry to corporate overlord BMW, while the body is the portion that defines a modern Roller as both distinct and distinctly British.
Odd, then, that the Wraith’s fastback roofline—the car’s defining feature—was cribbed from a couple of Italian cars. You see, Rolls has no precedent for a roofline that looks anything like this, so its designers couldn’t play the heritage card. According to design director Giles Taylor, the inspiration comes instead from the Lancia Aurelia coupe and the Maserati Ghibli (the original coupe introduced in 1967, not the recently introduced sedan of the same name). In profile, in person, this car looks spectacular and improbable. It’s such a massive and unexpected thing in any setting you can imagine. And it’s so gloriously space-inefficient, so unchained from the tedious priorities of regular cars. The sharp crease between the roofline and the brutal, bricklike shape of the lower body serves to make the Wraith one of few modern cars that looks totally appropriate in a two-tone paint job.