I encountered this relatively rare Rolls near my place in Bangkok a couple of times and finally tried to photograph it. Unfortunately, it was guarded (must belong to some VIP) and the guard wasn’t cool with my taking a few snaps, so I only managed three. Still, we haven’t featured this car on CC before I believe, so here’s a little taste of the roly-poly jelly bean Rolls.
The Silver Seraph came out in early 1998 to replace the Silver Spirit/Spur. It was the last Rolls to have a Bentley clone, the Arnage (though those, along with the two-door cars — Rolls-Royce Corniche V and Bentley Continental — kept the old V8), the last to be built at the historic Crewe works and the last model developed before the VW takeover in 1998. On the other hand, it was the first Rolls with a German engine, in this case a 5.4 litre BMW V12. In the end, BMW managed to wrest control of the Rolls-Royce brand off of Volkswagen, but had to build a new factory from scratch to make them. And they also had to devise a completely new model from the ground up, which they presented to the public in 2003 as the Phantom VII and has changed little since.
So the Seraph’s time on this Earth was rather fleeting, for a Rolls-Royce. They made just over 1500 of these in five years, including 127 extended wheelbase saloons (but excluding the Corniche) made by whatever remained of Park Ward from 2000 to 2002. I couldn’t tell if the car I found was one of them, but there’s a fair chance it might be. The BMW L7 I caught a while back hails from the same car park, so someone in there likes turn-of-the-Century V12-powered limos.
I remember that when the Seraph came out, I thought it looked better than the Spirit. Nowadays, I’m not so sure. It’s certainly the last Rolls design that looked more like a car than a tank. There’s lots to be said about how Rolls got snatched by BMW and how this car is the archetype of a transitional model, but that will be for another time with another Seraph – hopefully one that is not chaperoned by a guard I can’t communicate with.