Driven: 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost Page 2

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Lodge at Torrey Pines

Lodge at Torrey Pines

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Blending old and new

The Lodge at Torrey Pines isn't what it presents itself to be. Impeccable Craftsman architecture must mean it was built sometime just after 1900, of course? Of course not. The seaside complex is hardly eight years old, but constructed and detailed in such a way to make the historical fact a footnote. It's an ultimate synthesis of old and new, with post-and-beam authenticity capped with glowing stained glass and real hardwood trim. If you have a short list in your life of places and things that deliver a sublime thrill by observing and capturing an essence perfectly, you'll understand why the Lodge is on my short list, very near the top.

I'd chosen it as my overnight out of blind love, but the Lodge syncs perfectly with the mission of the Ghost. It's been called the first "real" Rolls-Royce car, which begs the question about everything that's come before. A little more precisely, the Ghost is the first Rolls-Royce that begs loose comparisons with premium cars from other automakers. There's the Mulsanne, of course, sort of a distant cousin to the Ghost, and there's the Maybach 62. And not much else.

Of all three, it's observed that the Ghost is a superior blend of heritage and modernity. In the flesh, it trumps Rolls' own Phantom on that point. The Phantom has an altogether higher purpose: it caters to the most exclusive, well-heeled buyers on the planet. And as a standard bearer it has some boundaries it can't cross. It must be imposing, it must be classical, even a bit baroque.

The Ghost is more of a bridge to the rest of the world. For a manageable price--for anyone with a television deal or a sports contract--the Ghost represents a departure from the mainstream of luxury, the BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes of the road. It tips off outsiders tastefully that the owner has truly arrived, and in a respectable way. It behaves like a modern car, but one that you can recognize as a Rolls-Royce from a valet stand at a good distance. It's a magnitude of change from the tip of its hood-ornament wings to its jewel-like taillamps.

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