Rolls-Royce had predicted that its Year Of The Dragon Edition Phantom would be popular in China, a country that’s constantly on the up and up. But while it’s certainly pleased with the results, it probably didn’t predict that the $1.2-million limited-edition car would sell out, and so quickly—in just two months.
Or maybe it did see this coming. Rolls-Royce has been on a bigger binge than an investment banker at a corporate luncheon, catering to a population whose number of millionaires has skyrocketed by a third, to 1.11 million people—right behind Japan and the United States. In 2011, Rolls-Royce’s overall sales reached its highest in the company’s 107 years: a 31 percent increase to 3,538 cars, and it’s a constant upward climb, which surely bodes poorly for some albeit privileged cows. Last year was also when China beat out the US to be Rolls-Royce’s largest market, and total car sales are expected to rise this year by 16 percent for both luxury cars and the hoi polloi.
The long-wheelbase Dragon Edition comes in red (a symbol of luck) inside and out, with hand-painted gold dragons along the car’s flanks, more dragons on the headrests, hand-stitched cushions for passengers, blood orange leather rear seats with yellow piping that are so plush even the change they swallow is hundred-dollar bills, windshield washer fluid comprised of the tears of orphans, and a deployable, electrified cow-catcher for clearing out the riff-raff. OK, some of these may not exist, but it is a glorious ode to the idea of conspicuous consumption, in a country that hasn’t had much time to experience it—but has still done so with profound enthusiasm.