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December 5 2013 Latest news:
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The ultimate British car name Rolls-Royce may now be owned by BMW but it is proudly made in the UK on the Goodwood Estate in Sussex.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is said to have come here after a chat between Lord March and senior executives at BMW who told him, in passing, that they were looking for a quintessentially English base to make the iconic cars.
The Earl, who runs Goodwood and who some think has petrol running in his veins, said he had just the spot.
Even if it was not quite as simple as that, and what ever is, the story has just the nice mix of class and style meeting technology that sums up the modern cars and the gleaming award-winning and eco-friendly plant.
The factory officially opened for business on 1 January 2003 and was designed to fit into its beautiful surroundings. You cannot see it from the road and when you see the buildings they remind you of a graceful company headquarters rather than a car plant that in the first eight months of this year produced 1,400 hand-finished cars.
Everything about the factory is aimed to fit into its environment. The most notable part is the eight acre (22,500sq metres) living roof made of sedum plants, the largest in the UK, where breeding pairs of skylarks have nested. The roof makes it difficult to detect where the boundaries lie between the buildings and their surroundings. The effect is further enhanced by sustainably sourced cedar wood cladding on the buildings.
It was built from scratch ready for when BMW took sole control of the Rolls-Royce marque in 2003. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has more than 800 employees based at Goodwood. Of these, 80 per cent are British, many local, but as you would expect from a truly international company, a further 21 nationalities are represented on site.
The factory assembles the cars on a squeaky clean manufacturing line while all the bespoke touches in the finish of the car, its upholstery and detailing is done in the factory, from the cutting of the leather to the making of the wooden trim.
And the line is truly squeaky clean. When the completed cars are being manoeuvred in the Test and Finish area you can hear the tyres squealing on the painted floor. It is about the only thing you do hear from the cars!
As well as its clean and tidy nature, the other things that stick in the mind are the glorious smells and quietness of the factory.
The woodshop is intensely wood and you get the scent and sense of being in a giant humidor when you pop your head into the veneer store. Even this pales when you walk into the leathershop which smells like the imagined aroma of a good gentleman's club.
Chief executive officer Torsten Mller-tvs summed up the appeal of the work done by the Goodwood team at the Paris Motor Show: Craftsmanship and pride underscore the creation of any Rolls-Royce. Our cars are hand-built and finished by the best technicians and craftspeople in the luxury industry.
It takes several weeks to complete the hand stitched leather interior in every Phantom and each leather component is proudly signed by the person who stitched it before it is fitted to the car.
Mr Mller-tvs went on to state what is possible through the company's Bespoke programme. Bespoke provides our customers with the ability to realise their personal vision for their own car. The only limit is the boundary of their imagination.
He went on to show off a picnic set that had taken six months and more than 1,500 hours in design and development.
So what do we have? We have a car plant that looks like no car plant you could imagine, set in beautiful parkland, that produces cars like no cars you could imagine. Truly something to be proud of and all made in Sussex!
Cars like no cars you could imagine
The Goodwood plant now makes four models of Phantom: the saloon (235,400), the Extended Wheelbase (278,300), the Drophead Coup (274,100) and the Coup (258,100); and the newest model, billed as slightly more affordable, the Ghost (165,000). All the prices in brackets are exclusive of tax and delivery charges and obviously dont include any bespoke additions.
Cristina Carrilho, Embroidery Specialist
Cristina works in the Bespoke area of the leathershop. Brought up in Brazil, she has been working for the company for four years. She helps to produce some of the special touches for the cars that the CEO was praising to the worlds press.
We get to make what the customer wants. All our work is individual, it's always a good challenge to make it work.
Jack Gatford, Manufacturing Associate
Jack got his job on the assembly line by applying on spec. He dropped his CV off at the front desk and was delighted when he got a call to ask him for an interview. He has worked at the Goodwood factory for about nine months. Before he was a mechanic in an independent garage in Bognor Regis. He works in the marriage area where the engine and drive train of the car is wedded to its body.
Its pretty cool working here. Im glad Im here and hopefully I will be here for a long time to come.
Katy Stockwell, Woodshop Associate
Katy joined the company about a year ago. Before, she used to work in theatre and film in the costume department. Katy fills in the tiny gaps in the veneer on the wooden trim to get a perfect finish. When it is completed she signs her work with a little rubber stamp with her number so it can be traced back to her.
Never in a million years did I think I would work for Rolls-Royce. My great granddad did use to drive one though - as a chauffeur.
Andy Johnston, Finish Line Associate
Andy has been working at the Goodwood plant for about seven years. He used to be a furniture polisher. His job is to make the final quality checks on the car to make sure the bodywork, the leather and the finish is perfect.
"It's a good job. It's a nice working environment and it's nice to see the end product."