Rolls-Royce Dawn via 360 magazine.

Rolls-Royce Dawn

Heading into the Sunset

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 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. 


‘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. 

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 as it 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. [1]


In 2017, Rolls-Royce added Black Badge Dawn to its model family. Like the Ghost and Wraith that preceded it, Dawn’s alter ego derived its character from a series of engineering and design treatments. An entirely new exhaust system added a bass baritone quality to the engine note. While appealing to the rebel spirit that attracts so many to this noire expression of the brand, Black Badge Dawn created its own singular place in the Rolls-Royce Pantheon – one characterized by the romance and seduction of the city at night. 


Beyond its desirability, Dawn brought the spirit of ‘la dolce vita’ to Rolls-Royce’s contemporary brand promise through an exquisite marriage of seductive design, contemporary materials, and a social, open-air driving experience. In doing so, Dawn has ensured its legacy by compelling an entirely new generation to the marque. 







Rolls-Royce Dawn via 360 magazine.
Rolls-Royce Dawn via 360 Magazine.
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