Rolls-Royce teases Wraith before Geneva
The ethereal name has long been associated with the luxury marque. Here's the history behind it.
The first teaser image was just smoke in the shape of the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, but this photo shows the actual shape of the car.
Last week we reported that the big coupe will most likely carry a 6.0-liter V12 engine that should create about 600 hp, and that the car will be about 7 inches shorter than the four-door Ghost.
According to Rolls, the origin of the word “wraith” comes from Scottish dialect, and hints at something darker than the Ghost and Phantom. Some scholars believe the word first appeared in a 15th-century translation of Virgil's “Aeneid,” while others say it is synonym for guardian angel.
The Wraith name first appeared on Rolls-Royce cars in 1938 when the car came out of the company's factory in Derby, England with a four-speed transmission and an inline six-cylinder engine. The blindingly fast -- for the time -- Wraith would top out at 85 mph. The base model cost $1,745; the touring model $2,697. All 429 chassis were produced by 1939, though many were bodied in later years.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, produced from 1946 to 1959, marked the second iteration of the name. It was the first post-war model made at the factory in Crewe, England. Its engine was based on the mill from the previous Wraith, but used a new cylinder head with overhead intake valves. A long-wheelbase version was created in 1951. It was built until 1959.
The Wraith name was then given to the long-wheelbase version of the Silver Shadow II, called the Silver Wraith II. The Wraith II boasted an Everflex roof, Everflex being a durable -- and, of course, more expensive -- version of vinyl. It featured all the upgrades available for the Silver Shadow II, including rack and pinion steering and front-suspension improvements. Some were fitted electric partitions that separated the driver from the passenger compartment.
“[The new] Rolls-Royce Wraith will draw superlatives when it is unveiled in Geneva,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös to representatives of the global dealer network. “Expect the boldest design, the most dramatic performance and the most powerful Rolls-Royce that has ever played host to the famous Spirit of Ecstasy figurine.”
We'll find out more about the Wraith later this month when more teaser info is revealed and catch it in person in Geneva when the car takes the auto show stage.
-- Jake Lingeman
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