Sarah Buitendach Editor: Wanted magazine
Though smaller than the Phantom, the Ghost has no shortage of stately elegance. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Though smaller than the Phantom, the Ghost has no shortage of stately elegance. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

In researching this column, it dawned on me that I’m a financial minnow at sea in the briny depths of superyachts, lobster platters and billionaires backstroking through piles of cash.

Last week, at the launch of the rebooted Ghost, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös told the BBC “that markets in Asia, Europe and the US were now ‘more or less back to normal’.”

According to the British broadcaster’s article here, “sales for the first half of 2020 were down 30%, but now ‘times are starting to become better and better’”.

The new Ghost is billed to cost around £250,000 (about R5.5m). Rolls-Royce’s immense Phantom model will set you back even more, so you get the price ballpark we’re talking about for the marque in general.

Whether you think these beasts are bling and brash or brilliant, you can’t help but be impressed by the work that goes into making just one of them.

The craftsmanship is staggering. Watch the National Geographic Megafactories episode on the brand and you’ll see exactly what I mean. It’s been on DStv recently, and there’s a recording of it on YouTube.

Bespoke finishes and actual humans physically making the vehicles aside, what I really have a hard time comprehending is that so many people, globally, have the funds (or access to loans) to buy this sort of vehicle.

In January, Hypebeast ran this article detailing how, last year, the BMW-owned company sold 5,152 vehicles — compared to 4,107 in 2018. This was a new sales high for the brand in general.

What really blows my mind? That in a pandemic, amid unprecedented global economic uncertainty, sales for these luxe cars are still happening at all — never mind stabilising.

It seems bananas, but we all know the deal — it’s the middle class who’ve taken the hit in this harrowing past six months. Not the fiscally cushioned Bezoses or those Emirati sheikhs, Chinese tech playboys or PPE entrepreneurs.

This right here, the Ghost, is the kind of purchase that separates them from us mortals. We’re busy worrying about the spike in City of Joburg rates; they’re debating whether the stitching of the car seats will match the colour of their eyes.

Still, if you are one of the gang in the market for a car to set you back a couple of million, especially now that you’re emerging from your coronavirus cocoon and are hitting the roads again, you don’t have to settle for the Rolls.

Mercedes-Benz launched its new S-Class last week too. Perhaps that’s more your speed. And compared to the Ghost, it’s practically free.

As The New York Times story on the Merc puts it: “Cynics may regard the S-Class, which will have a base price north of $100,000 in the US, as a land yacht for plutocrats, a discordant display of wealth amid rising unemployment and sagging growth.”

Well, sure — but it does sport 30 speakers and passenger seats that’ll give you a massage. So, really, what’s not to like?

*Buitendach is the FM's Life editor and editor of Wanted magazine.

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