Rules To Follow When Driving A Rolls-Royce

Formed as a partnership between Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, the Rolls-Royce Motor Company launched its first series-production car, the Silver Ghost, in 1906. Within a year, the car had been proclaimed "the best car in the world," and the template was set for all future Rolls-Royce models. They needed to represent the very best of automotive luxury and refinement, regardless of cost. It's a mantra that the company has stuck to ever since, and even today, buying a Rolls-Royce is seen as a signifier of wealth, status, and in most cases at least, good taste.

The automaker has produced dozens of excellent models over the years, but no matter which one you choose, there are a few common rules that all Rolls-Royce owners would do well to follow. They're not set in stone, and not every owner chooses to abide by them. But, if you want to get the best out of your car, they're good to keep in mind. Think of them more as an owners' etiquette guide, with the brand more likely to invite you to build a bespoke car if you're seen as being the archetypal Rolls-Royce patron.

Make friends with your local dealer

Being on good terms with a dealer is a good rule of thumb for any exotic or luxury car owner, as they will nearly always be the first point of contact if something needs doing. Rolls-Royce is no different, as ownership will be a lot easier if there's a friendly face to take your car to when it needs servicing, repair, or even when it's time for an upgrade.

If you've got deep enough pockets to buy a new Rolls-Royce in the first place, the chances are that you'll want a new one in a few years with the latest features and tech. Again, a good dealer relationship is useful here, and if they already know your personal tastes, they'll be better equipped to suggest any bespoke options you might want on your new car. Thankfully, Rolls-Royce dealers aren't known to be like Ferrari dealers, so no need to worry about secret credit checks or image evaluation here.

Don't skimp on maintenance

This rule should be obvious, but it's surprising how many older luxury cars end up in disrepair because their owners try to cut corners on maintenance. Rolls-Royces depreciate just like any other luxury car, and by the time they're 15 or 20 years old, they're in a price bracket where they can be bought by people who would never be able to afford one new. These third or fourth owners aren't always prepared for the continued cost required to service a Rolls-Royce properly, and in an effort to keep their bills down, will do the bare minimum to keep the car running.

Ignoring small issues and not sticking to the proper service schedule will invariably cause problems later down the line, and these problems might end up costing more to fix than just maintaining the car properly in the first place. The exact cost to maintain a Rolls-Royce will vary greatly by model, age, and condition, but Auto Scope Car Care, a Texas-based service specialist, estimates the average yearly maintenance cost of a Rolls-Royce Ghost to be around $4,000. That's just for basic servicing without cosmetic detailing or unscheduled repairs, so owners wanting to keep their cars in pristine condition will need to spend significantly more.

Prepare for some big repair bills

On the subject of spending significantly more than you anticipated, another rule to keep in mind is to make sure you've got some extra cash on hand for any unexpected repairs. Driving a car on public roads will inevitably leave it with a few scratches and chips over time, and that's not to mention the possibility of road debris or careless drivers causing extra damage. Rolls-Royces are generally known to be fiercely reliable if they've been looked after correctly, but if you're buying used rather than new, you can't always be certain that all the previous owners were as careful.

If a car has been badly maintained for even a small portion of its life, long-standing smaller issues can one day turn into much bigger ones, potentially leaving the current owner with a small fortune in repair bills. Ideally, if you're buying a used Rolls, look for a complete service history, and beware of suspiciously cheap examples for sale. They're usually cheap for a reason, as they might have hidden underlying problems that can cost a fortune to put right.

Remember the car doesn't need more power

Rolls-Royce has historically refused to publish the horsepower figures for its cars, famously claiming that their output was simply, "adequate." The company isn't quite so coy about those figures anymore, but it's still never been the focus of their cars. Sheer power isn't really the point of a Rolls-Royce, but rather the smoothness that power is delivered with, and the overall quality of the ride. Each car's so-called "magic carpet ride" is far more important than any acceleration figures, with the company reportedly taking great care to preserve this feeling in the upcoming Spectre EV (per Autoevolution).

There will always be a few owners who choose to ignore the advice of the manufacturer and install their own power upgrades. One particularly polarizing build featured a nitrous-equipped Hemi V8 making over 1,000 horsepower crammed under the hood of a classic Silver Shadow. Rolls-Royce doesn't comment on these kinds of builds, but you can be sure that the company doesn't approve.

Expect lots of attention

Driving any eye-wateringly expensive car is a surefire way to draw attention to yourself on the road, but a Rolls-Royce can sometimes bring a different kind of attention than some owners might be used to. In a review of the Rolls-Royce Ghost, Jeremy Clarkson described it as, "bring[ing] out the inner communist that lurks in all other road users." Whether it's jealousy or a genuine dislike of cars that cost as much as some people's houses, plenty of road users won't be too pleased to see a Rolls-Royce in their rearview, and a few won't be afraid to tell you. To quote Clarkson again, "You cannot drive a Rolls-Royce if you are in any way a shrinking violet."

Of course, not every road user is going to disapprove of your choice of wheels. There will be plenty that stare in awe at such an expensive car, and probably a fair few that stop to take a photo or video as you roll past. Either way, driving a Rolls is an event in itself, and unless you're somewhere like London or Monaco where such cars are a relatively common sight, you'll be the center of attention whether you like it or not.

Don't modify it...

If driving a stock Rolls-Royce doesn't generate enough of a polarizing reaction for you, then modifying it surely will. Rolls-Royce buyers are free to customize their car to their exact tastes at the point of purchase, with H.R. Owen noting that it's rare for two cars to ever be exactly the same. However, once the car has been designed, built, and delivered to the customer, it's generally frowned upon for owners to make any aftermarket modifications, especially any that would affect the quality of the experience that the stock car can offer.

That means aftermarket wheels, trim, or body kits are not advisable unless you're willing to forgo the usual warranty and protection that Rolls-Royce offers. There are plenty of aftermarket tuners that will be happy to provide all those things anyway, with German outfit Mansory, for example, offering body kits for the full range of Rolls-Royce models. Just be aware that in doing so, you might be voiding any manufacturer warranty you have left on your car.

...Or do, but let Rolls-Royce build it

There is a way around the no-modification rule for customers who have deep enough pockets. If the standard options list on a Phantom or Wraith simply isn't doing it for you, you can always ask Rolls-Royce if they'll create a coachbuilt one-off that you can design from the ground up. The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is a recent example, as it was commissioned by an unnamed customer, with every part of the design shaped by the customer themselves. The car is based on a Phantom, but features a unique extended rear end with a suite of hosting equipment built in, and a removable canopy roof.

The car reportedly featured 1,813 custom parts and underwent as much testing as a regular production model would do to ensure it drove exactly as the customer wanted it to. The price of the car was never officially revealed, but some reports have claimed it cost as much as $30 million to create. Even by Rolls-Royce standards, you'll need to be exceptionally wealthy to create a custom car in this way.

Decide whether you want to share your data

To make sure your car is always in perfect condition, newer Rolls-Royces automatically send data back to your dealer to monitor the overall health of the vehicle. Rolls-Royce states that the "quantity and type of telematics data may vary, depending on the motor car, driving styles, the model, the model year and special accessories." The automaker gives examples of coolant temperature and fuel tank content as two of the metrics it can measure, but notes that if you're not so keen on sharing any of that data with the company, you can request to have your current car data deleted.

Doing so is as simple as filling out a request form asking the company to delete the records, and you can also choose not to let your car share data in the future. The scheme is of course simply designed to keep your car in pristine shape rather than to track you as such, but if privacy is a big concern, Rolls-Royce won't force you to opt-in.

Make use of all the features

Part of the unique appeal of a Rolls-Royce is just how many features, gadgets, and optional extras are available for the buyer to add to their options list. If you don't make full use of these features when you've got them, you're missing out. One of the most famous features available in almost every Rolls-Royce is the built-in Champagne cooler, which comes with a set of crystal glass flutes that slot neatly into the rear center console when not in use. There's plenty more than that though, as to take an example, the Cullinan SUV includes Pavilion rear seating that's slightly raised, allowing rear-seat passengers the optimum view out of the window.

It also features Night Vision to help drivers navigate the road ahead in low light conditions, and an optional "three-box" glass partition design to help keep the cabin at a perfect temperature even when the trunk is being loaded. It's these features that really help distinguish a Rolls-Royce from its lesser competition, and every owner should make sure they're getting the most out of them.

Enjoy the car

Perhaps the most important rule of all is that a Rolls-Royce is built to provide the owner with an unparalleled experience on the road, both in terms of handling and luxury. The bottom line is, if you own a car that's worth more money than some people will ever see in their lifetime, you really don't need to pay much attention to what anyone else says or thinks about your car. Vehicles like this are built without concern for anyone else apart from the owner, and as long as you've got the money to pay for the ongoing costs associated with running a Rolls-Royce, you're all set.

Like nearly every other automaker, Rolls-Royce is in the process of making the switch to electrification, with the Spectre EV first unveiled in late 2021 in camouflaged form. This camouflage consisted of a number of quotes written all over the car, with one of those quotes being, "When it does not exist, design it." That quote arguably sums up the whole point of Rolls-Royce ownership: If you want something out of a car, and you've got enough money, Rolls-Royce will make it for you. Then, the only thing left for you to do is enjoy it.