Rolls-Royce: Showing the world you are wealthy and successful (or in our case, pretending for the day)

When you drop a small fortune on a car, you expect something special. What you get with a Rolls-Royce is much more than a form of transportation. It's a status symbol on wheels.

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Cars may be, for most, a humble form of convenient transport designed to ferry us from A to B safely and efficiently. For others, though, they're much more than that.

No matter how much you have to spend, there's a dealer out there who will take the lot in exchange for a set of keys to your dream ride. If the price ends with more than a few zeroes, it's not a simple daily driver that you're getting your hands on.

On paper, a big, fast, expensive car makes little to no sense. Once you get up to the speed limit there is only so much performance you can actually use, and there's only so much size that's actually practical to drive. So why do we need cars that cost as much as a decent-size family home?

The XCAR team knows the answer, as undoubtedly do you. Cars can be as much a status symbol as anything else. Like the designer handbag or jewel-encrusted watch, it's not an improvement in their practical use that's on sale, it's the prestige of ownership and the way you feel having taken the plunge.

Do you actually get value for your hard-earned? We took a vintage Rolls-Royce out onto the streets of London to explore what exactly you get for all that cash.

No other manufacturer embodies wealth and excess to quite the same extent. This becomes apparent after a short time behind the wheel. The level of workmanship, on show for all to see, makes any normal car look like it came free in a box of cereal. The power under the hood, barely taxed by normal driving, effortlessly pushes you along. The handcrafted upholstery lets you exit the car more relaxed than you entered.

If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind being stared at by complete strangers, then the feeling of driving a car like this, especially in the tourist-heavy capital city of the country of its birth, is a highly enjoyable experience.

There is nothing practical about a Rolls-Royce that can justify the enormous cost of purchase. Even the excess of luxury it provides can be a questionable justification. However, add the prestige and status a car like that affords and the package starts to make sense.

Is a Rolls-Royce good value as a car? Maybe not. The feeling it bestows on its owner, though, is a bargain at any price.

Tags:
XCAR
Car Tech
About the author

Drew Stearne heads up the XCAR team and has spent the last 7 years producing content for CNET, GameSpot and many other CBS Interactive sites. He's equally obsessed with fast cars as he is with filming and photography, if he isn't involved with one, he tries to make sure he's involved with the other.

 

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