Rolls-Royce “dragon limos” for the super rich and Vespa “dragon scooters” for the rest of us to ride into the Year of the Dragon
The British ultra-luxury marque Rolls-Royce and the Italian scooter icon Vespa celebrate Chinese culture in Lunar New Year 2024 with their vehicular tributes to the zodiac dragon.
The spectacular limousines and the humble two-wheeler are at opposite far ends of the motoring scale, but they are all works of automotive art which pay European tribute to the mythical dragon on the road.
The four ‘Year of the Dragon’ Bespoke commissions by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars are three Phantom Extended models and one Cullinan, while the Vespa 946 Dragon is much less limited in quantity, with 1,888 units to be produced.
Both manufacturers used “hand-crafted” to describe how their respective special editions are built, although the term might be closer to the truth with Rolls-Royce.
For instance, the fascia panels are adorned with hand-painted, multi-layer artworks of the dragon form which took two weeks each to complete; while the Phoenix Red embroidery on the four headrests is made up of 5,449 stitches which took the artisans 20 hours to sew perfectly.
Vespa did some special sewing too for its 946 Dragon, but not for the scooter saddle. Instead, the two-wheeling Italians created their Dragon Varsity Jacket to match the 946 Dragon.
The fashion item features ribbed wool, nappa leather sleeves and, of course, dragon motifs in emerald green. The jacket’s front panel also has the English translation of an apparently ancient Chinese proverb about how a dragon must eat many little snakes.
Also demonstrating an attention to dragon detail are the Rolls-Royce Bespoke designers, who incorporated a dragon motif in the four cars’ hand-drawn custom coachline, with the animal facing right to represent the East.
The British-Chinese dragon’s tale continues to the cabin ceiling of the Bespoke Rolls-Royces, whose Starlight Headliner uses 677 individually-placed fibre-optic “stars” to form an abstract dragon motif, which is surrounded by a further 667 “starlights”. It looks like an onboard dragon dance, happening overhead on every road journey.
Riding into the Year of the Dragon is most comfortable in the four Rolls-Royce Bespoke dragon limos for the super rich, but doing so on the Vespa 946 Dragon is the next best thing for the rest of us who are less lucky in life.
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