In BBC America and AMC’s supernatural horror series NOS4A2, the Rolls-Royce Wraith is no mere prop. When Zachary Quinto‘s immortal villain Charlie Manx takes his young victims for a long ride in his luxury 1938 vehicle, both he and the car feed off their souls, growing younger and stronger in the process. Manx then dumps the soulless kids in Christmasland, a twisted village of his imagination where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law – a truly gruesome fate.
Ahead of season two, which premieres this Sunday (June 21) at 10pm EST on BBC America and AMC, here are some fascinating facts about Manx’s four-wheeled partner-in-crime.
1. Back in 1938, a brand new Rolls-Royce Wraith typically sold for £1,700.
That’s a princely £115,000 ($146,000) in today’s money.
2. Only 491 were ever made.
Wraiths were manufactured at Rolls-Royce’s factory in Derby, England, between 1938 and 1940, and the last one was sold in 1947.
3. The name “Wraith” is an old Scottish word meaning “ghost” or “spirit.”
Because Rolls-Royce very much saw itself as an exclusive brand, it liked to give models names that suggested silence, grace, rarity, and otherworldliness. Other famous models included the Silver Ghost, the Silver Shadow, and the Phantom.
4. More than one Wraith appears in NOS4A2.
“Initially, we had one Wraith that we found in Canada, and it was black and yellow,” creator-showrunner Jami O’Brien told Den of Geek last year. “We had to restore the paint job and completely redo the interior of the car. But the great news was that it ran, and it actually was in pretty good shape. Then we started shooting, and realized that even though it’s in pretty good shape, it is 80 years old.”
O’Brien continued: “So, it would behoove us probably to get another one if we could, and another one went up for sale in Massachusetts. We got a second Wraith as kind of a backup Wraith. And then, we bought a bunch of Wraith parts that we stuck on, I think it was a Ford, to free what we call our stunt Wraith. That does the dirty work that we don’t want the antique cars to have to go through.”
5. The Wraith was succeeded in 1946 by the Silver Wraith.
This was the first post-war Rolls-Royce and it proved a big hit, becoming the Irish Presidential State Car, the Brazilian Presidential Ceremonial State Car, the Royal Dutch State Limousine, and the Royal Danish Ceremonial Car.
6. The Silver Wraith is a true movie star.
It’s appeared in films including From Russia with Love, Arthur, Withnail & I, Batman, and Spectre.
7. The Rolls-Royce brand is more than 100 years old.
Rolls-Royce was established in 1904 when two British engineers, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, teamed up with the aim of manufacturing the “best car in the world.”
8. The Rolls-Royce’s iconic bonnet ornament, the Spirit of Ecstasy, is inspired by a real-life romance.
Sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, actually modeled it on Eleanor Velasco Thornton, a woman he was having an illicit affair with.
There have been several variations to the design over the years, and the current Spirit of Ecstasy stands at 7.6cm tall. She can be made from highly polished stainless steel, stainless with 24-carat gold plating, or from illuminated frosted crystal – though the latter two are considered “optional extras.”
9. Rolls-Royce has a long association with the British Royal Family.
In 2018, it was reported that Queen Elizabeth had put her vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom IV up for sale at auction. Just 18 Rolls-Royce Phantom IVs were manufactured between 1950 and 1956 – all for a select group of heads of states and British Royals whom the brand considered worthy of the distinction. Other owners include Princess Margaret, Aga Khan III, and General Franco of Spain.
10. Though a Rolls-Royce is surely one of the most British cars that ever existed, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has actually been a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany’s BMW since 1998.
In 2013, it launched a brand new model of the Rolls-Royce Wraith, which typically sells for £258,000 ($326,000). Top Gear magazine gives the new Wraith a very positive review, saying: “It may be the most sporting Rolls ever, but it’s still dripping in luxury.”
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