Have you ever wondered where Rolls-Royce builds their legendary vehicles? One would assume that to build the quality cars Rolls-Royce is famous for, their manufacturing plant would have to be equally as impressive. Well, that assumption is spot on: the Goodwood plant is unlike any other.
Since we’re still holding out for our chance to take a visit (fingers crossed), we felt sharing some history and information on this architectural masterpiece would be a great way to prepare. So, hold on to your hand-made leather seats and get ready to take an adventure through the Rolls-Royce Motor Car facility.
From the Beginning
Crouched below the grassy rolling hills of the historic Goodwood Estate and just north of the old towering cathedrals of Chichester is the quiet manufacturing plant of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. It was constructed in 2002 after BMW lost the Crewe Factory in a four year dispute between BMW and Volkswagen for the rights to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
This was an unsettling time for many Rolls-Royce enthusiasts. First, BMW would be taking over Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and second, they’d lost the manufacturing facility in charge of constructing Rolls-Royce vehicles for over 50 years. At the time, many feared BMW was ghost-riding Rolls-Royce straight off a cliff. BMW on the other hand, saw the change as an opportunity to heed the words of Sir Henry Royce: “Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.”
Which is exactly what they did. Upon being offered a plot of land by the Earl of March on the Goodwood Estate, BMW hired famous architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw to build their new manufacturing facility. The Earl of March did not want the plant to disrupt the natural landscape or to be seen from the road. Therefore, Grimshaw would have to forgo traditional car manufacturing standards and design an inconspicuous plant into the rolling hills of Goodwood Estate.
The building was erected in a pit and low to the ground, clad with stone and cedar to create a natural appearance. It is also topped with one of Europe’s largest living roofs, home to more than 40,000 different species of plant and a recent nesting area for breeding skylarks. The facility blends in so well with the landscape, you may actually overlook it if you weren’t paying attention on a walk through the South Downs. Covering 24,000 sq. feet, the Goodwood plant is one of the most discreet and advanced manufacturing facilities in the world. We think it’s a shame it doesn’t stand out more, which is why we’re here.
Here the best car in the world is meticulously manufactured by hand, and sent down the “glass mile.” Rolls-Royce’s assembly line gets its name from the long window that spans the entire length of the assembly line, giving onlookers the chance to watch these skilled craftsmen at work.
This assembly line is focused on precise artisanship, not speed. And for good reason – perfection. As you travel down the glass mile, you may hear the crack and flash of two metals being joined, or the metronomic press of sowing machines piecing together the grade-A bull hide interior. Your nose may be tickled by the sawdust in the air as the woodworkers shape and sand each custom veneer by hand. You might even be surprised by the chest-rumbling roar of each V12 being tested before lowered into the engine bay, but what you will undoubtedly feel is the sense of pride each employee takes in their work. You’ll see the true level of care and expertise that goes into each car and revel in the opulent beauty of Rolls-Royce craftsmanship.
Have you ever seen a Rolls-Royce? Even if you have, you haven’t seen these Rolls-Royces. Come by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Raleigh today and witness the remarkable craftsmanship of these vehicles. Don’t hesitate.