Tuesday was my birthday. As a present to myself, I took yesterday off and borrowed a Rolls Royce Ghost II. I spent the day driving around in utter luxury, catching up with friends, showing off to family, and generally enjoying myself. This is what I learned.
The car that I picked up was Rolls Royce Motor Cars Australia's Ghost II press car, specially commissioned for Australia and packed to the gills with options. The base car is already $545,000, but the extras on the press car tallied up the total to an eye-watering $747,860:
I'll be writing about the Ghost II's genuinely amazing suite of high-tech gadgets and gizmos, and the peerless level of incredible opulence and luxury that buying one grants you, next week. But for now, here are a quick few thoughts from 24 hours of driving around a car that's worth more than most apartments.
Noone Waves To You After They Merge
This is the one that I actually didn't expect. I drove across Sydney to pick up the Rolls in my little VW Polo GTI, through a morning's traffic, and when people merged in front of me they usually waved their thanks. (Not all of them, of course, Sydney drivers can be pricks.)
But when I jumped into the Ghost II and took it for a spin, hardly anyone waved when they merged. Honestly, this was genuinely noticeable. Maybe it's envy? Maybe they didn't realise it was an actual car?
Everyone Wants To Talk To You About It
When I picked up the car, I drove to the new East Village shops in Zetland to take a couple of pictures and grab a coffee. When I parked, one of the car park's trolley guys complimented me on my choice of wheels. (I said thanks.)
When I got back with my coffee, about 15 people were clustered around and taking pictures. They had about a half hour's worth of questions about the car, mostly "is this yours? How much is it?"
You're Deathly Afraid Of Scratching It
I parked the Rolls Royce in my driveway overnight, around the back of my house. That meant navigating a driveway with a giant kink in the middle of it, surrounded with flowers and garden plants and undergrowth.
It can be a challenge even in the Polo sometimes. Parking this car at about 11PM last night was a hellish exercise in "oh my god, I'm going to smash a $750,000 car into my own house".
Everyone Wants A Lift From You
I gave my mates a test drive around Surry Hills, I chauffeured my girlfriend into the city, I picked up Gizmodo editor Luke Hopewell from our city offices and dropped him home. I had friends and acquaintances blowing up my Twitter asking for a ride.
I think any Rolls Royce just feels rare and special, and maybe it was the one-day-only factor, but having the Ghost II did great things for my personal popularity (at least temporarily).
You Can Still Get Pulled Over By The Cops
While I was driving Luke home, we were lucky enough to drive straight into a police roadblock — the kind the cops set up to randomly breath test any car that drives past. While my editor was laughing in the passenger seat, I was quietly dying inside and hoping the police wouldn't start asking difficult questions about who the car actually belonged to.
(I passed with flying colours, of course, but not before I noticed the policeman grinning at my obvious discomfort.)
Everyone Stares, All The Time
People in cars, people on the street, people inside cafes and restaurants. Especially in the light of midday yesterday and this morning, I could feel the eyes on me. People like to look close up, too; I took the Rolls to Redfern for lunch yesterday with a couple of friends, and over the course of a 20-minute lunch, I think I checked on it about three times — paranoia.
There was someone peering in the window when I checked once (because, hey, it's a Rolls Royce, why wouldn't you?) and I almost had a heart attack.
All The Tech Inside Makes It A Marvel To Drive
The Rolls Royce Ghost II has four individually heated, individually cooled, individually adjustable, incredibly comfortable seats. The Rolls Royce Ghost II has headlights and daytime running lights that shine brightly even over an entire six-lane highway in the dead of night. The Rolls Royce Ghost II has a night vision camera, using infrared to detect the heat of cars and of human and animal bodies.
Seriously, there is so much tech in this car that you feel like Batman — but more on that next week.
People Still Ask You For Directions
Driving down Parramatta Rd last night to my girlfriend's place, I was stopped at the lights and the lady in the car next to me motioned me to put my window down. I'll totally admit that at this point, about 12 hours into my (temporary) ownership of a silver-on-blue Rolls Royce Ghost II, that I was completely expecting her to ask what car it was, how much it cost, who I'd slept with to get a hold of it.
Nope; she just wanted to know what the best way to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital was.