End of the Rolls-Royce Dawn

“In reviving the Dawn nameplate, Rolls-Royce reinvigorated something much more than a motor car–likethe glamourous convertible it drew inspiration from, the contemporary Dawn has come to characterise amodern expression of‘la dolce vita’;a way of living that embraces the beauty and richness of life. Dawntruly reflects the joy of good company, the thrill of adventure and the peace of quiet reflection. Indeed,this motor car is a testament to the modern art of living, recalling‘la dolce vita’spirit in every detail. Asproduction of Dawn draws to a close, we can reflect on an extraordinary chapter in the marque’s history.This beautiful motor car perfectly embodies contemporary luxury while celebrating the marque’s foundingprinciples and heritage.”Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

After concluding delivery of Dawn commissions to the United States concluded in 2022 , Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today signals the end of a glorious era as it ceases production of the Rolls-Royce Dawn, the iconic drop head. In this retrospective, the marque reflects on the best-selling drophead in the brand’s history as it takes its own unique place in the pantheon of great Rolls-Royce motor cars.


Following the success of Phantom VII, and its stablemates Phantom Coupé and Phantom Drophead Coupé, an increasingly youthful, universally self-confident and sociable client base was drawn to the Rolls-Royce brand. These new super-luxury consumers required a motor car that, like the first transformative models of Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood era, captured the glamour and romance of super-luxury motoring; but did so in a fashion completely in tune with their contemporary tastes and lifestyles. Rolls-Royce CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, recognised that there was space in the marque’s product portfolio to fulfil these clients’ desires. Accordingly, he challenged his designers to create not just a stablemate to Phantom Drophead Coupé, but an entirely new kind of super-luxury convertible. More than simply a beautiful motor car, it should evoke the romance and glamour that informs so much of Rolls-Royce’s legend, while offering a social, approachable and contemporary expression of open-top touring to an ascendant new generation.

Furthermore, it had to be completely new. Three years earlier, Rolls-Royce had launched its fastback coupé Wraith; but the idea of repurposing it was never considered. Instead, the marque’s designers found inspiration much earlier in the company’s vast and storied history. Between 1950 and 1954, Rolls-Royce made just 28 examples of the Silver Dawn drophead coupé. The Dawn nameplate, with its connotations of new beginnings, fresh opportunities and glorious vistas, was unanimously approved as the perfect candidate for a 21stCentury reincarnation. The seductively elegant original perfectly embodied the spirit of its age, immortalised in the expression ‘la dolce vita’–‘the sweet life’. A reminder to savour every moment and live fully in the present, ‘la dolce vita’ came to signify good company and quiet reflection–the importance of taking time to dwell on the pleasures of life in all its beauty and richness. EXQUISITE ELEGANCE PAIRED WITH LUXURIOUS COMFORT ‘La dolce vita’ was a life filled with passion, adventure and romance. It was sensuous and sensual, a celebration of decadence, indulgence and pleasure in all its forms. It was this spirit that Rolls-Royce wanted to capture in its new drophead, expressed through timeless form language, contemporary craft and an effortless yet potent dynamic character.

The boldness of that vision was reflected in Dawn’s design. Its pure, simple form was inspired by fifties and sixties fashion, which evoked glamour by removing superfluous lines and textures, focussing instead on how it amplified the form of the wearer. Similarly, Dawn’s supple, flowing coachwork wraps around its occupants akin to raising a collar on an overcoat, affording those inside a cossetting, private and chic cabin experience. Indeed, in creating Dawn, 80% of the panels were entirely unique, including a ‘wake channel’ on the bonnet emanating from the Spirit of Ecstasy, evoking the sensation of quietly gathering energy while provisioning drivers with a permanent vanishing point–a design feature that endures on Rolls-Royce motor cars today. However, in one vital respect, Dawn broke with a long-established automotive design convention. Almost without exception, convertibles are designed in a 2+2 configuration, with full-size seating for the driver and one passenger in the front, plus two smaller seats for occasional passengers or children in the rear. The lack of rear-seat space, and particularly legroom, reduces the car’s comfort and practicality–a shortcoming Rolls-Royce refused to accept. Dawn was therefore a full four-seater with comfortable, individual seating for all occupants.


In quintessential Rolls-Royce style, engineers spent months optimizing the convertible experience with an exhaustive testing program–neither eliminating airflow completely nor permitting disruptive levels into the cabin. To achieve this, the test subject was a modified mannequin provisioned with a wig of long ,flowing hair. It was chauffeured for hundreds of hours while a bank of sensors and cameras faithfully recorded how the hair was displaced by the moving air. The resulting data enabled engineers to make Dawn the world leader in aerodynamic comfort with the roof open. Indeed, during a product experience later in Dawn’s life, an American journalist passed through an area a sit was struck by an earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, followed by a 2.7 aftershock; such was the smoothness of the ride, he learned of this only when he read about it in the press the following morning.

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