If a tree falls in the woods, will Rolls-Royce turn it into a picnic table?
Jack Boyd Smith, Jr. is a billionaire. But unlike so many of his class, his tastes skew not purely toward extravagance but also to the stories behind extravagant things. Two such items are a 1934 Packard Twelve Coupe and a family heirloom – a rocking chair made of koa wood – which serve as the inspiration for the latest member of Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke collection: the Koa Wood Phantom Extended.
Designed with input from Smith, this unique long-wheelbase Phantom wears Packard Blue paint, matched to the 1934 Twelve Coupe. Rolls-Royce formulated the shade after Smith, Jr. shipped a wing/fender from his prized pre-war two-door to the Bespoke team in Goodwood. But getting the rich hue on the slab-sided Phantom wasn’t as easy as filling the painting robots at the factory and letting em’ rip.
Rolls-Royce went through 40 separate test surfaces before finding a paint formula that matched the original shade and applying it to the Phantom Extended. Other exterior touches include monograms on the front doors for Smith and his wife, Laura, as well as a coachline and subtle detailing on the blue wheel caps. The Spirit of Ecstasy is a solid chunk of sterling silver.
But the interior is truly this Bespoke Phantom’s centrepiece. This isn’t merely a matter of some wood there, and some more there – there’s as much wood in this cabin as Rolls-Royce could possibly fit. It’s not just on the dash, but on the steering wheel spokes, the arm rests, the picnic tables in the backseats, and the rear centre console, where you’ll find a refrigerator and champagne flutes (also bearing the monogram of the wealthy couple).
The koa wood is rare, growing only on the Hawaiian islands. Most of it exists in state or national parks, while what’s harvestable comes only from private agricultural land. Rolls-Royce harvested the wood in this car from a private collection, with the company’s wood specialist negotiating with the owner of the koa grove. But because of the nature of the project, Rolls couldn’t settle for a couple of planks – it needed a whole damn log from a tree that Mother Nature herself had to fell. That part took three years.
Based on the images, though, the wait was worthwhile. Rolls-Royce doesn’t build cars with shoddy woodwork, but this Bespoke Phantom is – pun wholly intended – a cut above. If you never had an appreciation for the warming effect of wood on a car’s interior, the Koa Phantom is a lesson on just why the stuff has been a go-to material in luxury vehicles for over a century. As the Koa Phantom required an entire log, the Smiths went just a bit further with the material, using it, along with high-quality saddle leather and stainless steel, for a Rolls-Royce–calibre “picnic hamper.”
While it might be easy to look at the exorbitant Phantom and Smith’s collection of vehicles – 60 strong, spread across two buildings in Elkhart, Indiana – and imagine years and years of collecting dust, worry not. The Smith family will get plenty of use out of it.
“I drive the cars. I love driving the cars. Sometimes I’ll drive the car to work, take another car to lunch, and then come home in a third car,” Smith, Jr said.
Ah, to be wealthy.