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Giving your Rolls-Royce the personal touch

The Rolls-Royce Dawn as the talk of the wealthy this summer, when it won “Best of the Best” awards from the German Design Council in July, and luxe analysts Robb Report last month at Pebble Beach.

Like the Rolls-Royce Wraith, the 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12-engined convertible is aimed at the younger plutocrat, and the company’s bolder, brighter designs seem to be paying off.

The Dawn’s specifications and advances in rear-seat peace and comfort are well-known in affluent Hong Kong, but if you are thinking of buying one, it had better look unique in Repulse Bay.

Rolls-Royce is arguably the master at “selling-up” orders with bespoke add-ons, but a spate of high-profile customised Dawns across the world suggests a more intense personalisation trend might soon reach Hong Kong Island’s south side.

In Porto Cervo, Sardinia, the Rolls-Royce Summer Studio showed how leathers, woods, metals and colour combinations, and design innovations can really make the cars look different.

The studio illustrated how ostrich leather “adds depth and texture” to a Wraith cabin, and presented an emerald green Dawn with a “distinct seashell and green” leather and “open-pore” teak interior.

The Sardinia Dawn also highlighted a trend towards “dressing” the interior of the car with precious details.

“At the heart of this unique motor car lies art within art; precious emeralds and mother of pearl are set into white gold and presented on the fascia as a timeless memory of the beguiling island,” Rolls-Royce purrs.

“As a brooch adorns a gown, so the jewels complete the visual harmony of this exquisite motor car.”

The Rolls-Royce personalisation drive gathered momentum when the marque then presented three more customisation ideas at an August 20 gathering of Rolls-Royce collectors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Michael Fux Drophead highlighted the effectiveness of a personalised duo-tone blue with a matching hood, carpet and white steering-wheel, fascia and interior; a Nautical Dawn matched the owner’s Florida home in navy blue, white and teak, and included a hand-crafted clock inspired by the Rolex Yachtmaster design; while an “Homage to Silver Ghost” Dawn featured a matching silver Spirit of Ecstasy on a black fascia, and black-stitched and piped green leatherwork.

Such details reveal the Rolls-Royce world is looking beyond factory specifications, and into the personalised style that was arguably pioneered by Hong Kong’s own Kai-bong and Brenda Chau.

The design choices are almost infinite, as long as you avoid “The Peninsula” green; the “Stephen Red” of Macau’s The 13 hotel; puce 1970s purple; and especially “Brenda” pink.

Ferrari dealer Auto Italia is showing classic and new convertibles at its Repulse Bay showroom until next September 9. The display includes a 1964 275 GTS and 1969 365 GTB4 Daytona Spider, alongside a California T with the Handling Speciale (HS) package (HK$2,980,000), says dealer spokeswoman Elaine Fong.

“The HS is a brand-new option that offers a series of new and specific calibrations delivering an even sportier drive,” she says, adding that the T’s 3,855cc V8 won the 2016 the International Engine of the Year Award 2016, as well as its New, Performance and Three-to-Four-Litre categories.

A variation of this block also features in the 488 GTB and its Spider version. Attractive in the new Blu Corsa Metallic shade, the Ferrari 488 Spider GTB (HK$4,764,808) has an aluminium spaceframe chassis, about 100hp more than its predecessor, at 670hp, and 760Nm of torque at 3,000rpm.

It’s throttle-response has been sharpened to achieve 100km/h in three seconds via a seven-speed F1 dual-clutch transmission.

Ferrari says the 1,525kg convertible is also 9 per cent more responsive than its predecessor, and new electronics make it 12 per cent faster out of corners, and handle better with more under-car downforce on the road. An electric glass rear wind stop can be adjusted to three positions, and Ferrari says its retractible is stowed in 14 seconds.

A Mercedes-AMG S 63 Cabriolet (HK$3,228 million) became the talk of Hong Kong’s ultra-rich at the Mercedes Me store on August 24, when the marque celebrated its 12-year brand partnership with watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen.

The 585-horsepower convertible might spend much of its time dawdling at the speed of a Number 6 bus on the Southside, but engine size still matters beyond Wong Nei Chong Gap and May Road.

AMG’s elite fitters in Affalterbach have hand-finished and tuned the model’s 5,461cc V8 to deliver a 900Nm of torque for a boast of 100km/h in 4.2 seconds.

It also tops at 250km/h via a configurable AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed sports transmission, and has the swishness of the S-Class Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz’s first open-top luxe four-seater since 1971.

The 5.02-metre fastie’s top rises in about 20 seconds, and the cabin has a 12-sensor, 18-actuator intelligent and fully automatic climate-control system that the marque says obviates temperature settings for closed or open top driving.

The system also monitors air quality and harmful gases while a “dewpoint sensor” measures the humidity on the front windscreen and solar sensors on the dashboard and rear shelf adjust cabin temperatures.

The car’s flashiest option is perhaps the LED Intelligent Light System (HK$37,000 before tax), which features 47 Swarovski crystals, with 17 angular versions in the daytime-running lights, and 30 rounded ones in the indicators.

The Mercedes-AMG S 63 Cabriolet is the middle of the S-Class Cabriolet range, which begins with the 455hp, 4.6-litre V8 S 500 Cabriolet (HK$2.448 million) and is topped by the Mercedes-AMG S65 Cabriolet (HK$4.498 million) with a 5.98-litre V12 that promises 100km/h in 4.1 seconds.

Jaguar Classic says it has sold all nine of its Continuation XKSS, reportedly for “in excess of ££1 million” (HK$10.18 million) each. Their story stems from Jaguar’s D-types winning Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957, and then becoming obsolete for the track. So the marque converted its 25 remaining D-Type racers into fast XKSS road cars, ideally for rich Americans.

“These modifications included the addition of a new higher windscreen; an extra door on the passenger side; taking away the divider between driver and passenger and the removal of the famous fin behind the driver’s seat,” Jaguar says.

Sixteen 3.4-litre straight-six models were exported – including one to Hong Kong, according to Sportscardigest.com.

These models went on to become ultra-rare collectibles worth from US$15.2 million each in concours condition, to US$7.1 million in “fair” nick, according to US valuers Hagerty, this week.

However, a 1957 fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory destroyed the remaining nine XKSS and they were largely forgotten.

Then, in 2014, Jaguar started a “continuation” of six Lightweight E-Type racers to the models’ 1963 specifications. The venture’s success then led to a “continuation” of the nine lost XKSS.

One of these new “continuation” collectibles might be expected in Hong Kong or Macau, where an original XKSS won the Grand Prix twice, first in 1959 with Hong Kong’s Ron Hardwick at the wheel.

The Post’s archives recall Hardwick saying in 1994 that he bought an XKSS “from K. F. Chang before the ‘59 race for HK$18,000 and I sold it for HK$20,000 figuring there was no way that it could win at Macau again, but it did”, in 1960, driven by Guia legend Martin Redfern.

So, questions might be raised whether the Macau Grand Prix-winning car is the same model that was reportedly exported to Hong Kong. And what happened to it? The case continues.

Caterham Cars says its 152hp new Seven 310 “represents the perfect balance of power and confidence-inspiring handling characteristics”.

The model also recalls the marque’s Rover-powered Superlight R300, costs££24,995 fully-built, and first deliveries are due in early 2017. The Seven 310 is the first Caterham with optional LED headlamps and reflects the Caterham Seven’s beginnings as Colin Chapman’s “fit-for-purpose” race car for the road. Meanwhile, the marque’s Seven 620R outperformed six other lightweight, track-inspired cars such as the Zenos E10R, BAC Mono and Lotus 3-11 at this summer’s Goodwood Festival of Speed Cars.