'At 60mph the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.' David Ogilvy's legendary advertising copy line is now 60 years old and it remains true today. On the outside lane of the motorway, the driver can whisper to passengers in the back. Other things have changed: the price of the Silver Cloud in 1957 was £5,078. The Wraith Black Badge tested here comes in at a buttock-clenching £267,180 plus VAT. (You could buy quite a nice BMW -Rolls' owner - just with the sales tax.)
The photo accompanying the 50s ad shows a woman - it was marketed, in the US at least, as a family vehicle. Now Rolls-Royces go to male oligarchs, many of whom never get behind the wheel but watch their chauffeur's neck hair from the rear. The Wraith Black Badge is slightly different in that it's aimed at fantastically monied boy racers and RR wants them to drive it themselves. The fastback coupé is crazily powerful and appallingly fast - 0-60 in 4.3 seconds.
But it isn't a car to throw about. That would be unseemly. And anyway careering about country lanes in a two-and-a-half-tonne, 17 feet, four inches long and six-and-a-half feet wide barge is a tricky business if you find a tractor (or even a VW Up) coming in the opposite direction.
In town make sure you leave the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette on top of the radiator grille in the retracted position, lest anyone wrenches it off. And, don't scuff the 21-inch jet black carbon fibre wheel rims as you try to tuck it into the kerb while parking. My favourite extras were the twin carbon fibre umbrellas, which have their own tubes accessed via the door pillars.
Deep black like a Spinal Tap album cover and with shades of the Batmobile, the Wraith is a wildly unworldly car. You'll require an oil well to keep it filled - I got about 13 miles to the gallon out of it in town. But that's what Rolls-Royces are there for. They are beyond aspirational and exist on a fantasy plane out of reach. Rolls sells around 4,000 cars a year, with Dubai its most successful dealership.
The Wraith's starlight headliner - the lining above your head - can be matched to your favourite constellation as you regard the skies from Holland Park or the Arabian Desert. One buyer demanded - and, naturally, got - the interior leather dyed the same tone as his dog's coat.
Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge
PRICE: £267,180 as tested
ENGINE: 6.6 litre V12
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 EMISSIONS: 333g/km
POWER: 624bhp/632 PS (DIN)/465kW @ 5600rpm
0-60 MPH: 4.3 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph