Sir Thomas Cullinan was a randlord who looked after a Pretoria mine called the Premier Mine. A randlord was the name given to an entrepreneur who controlled the gold and diamond mining industries in South Africa and the term was used for about forty years or so from 1870 onwards. In 1905 the Premier Mine gave up its biggest treasure – a 3,106.75 carat diamond which was separated into smaller diamonds, many of which can be seen today around our Royal Family on state occasions, like the Gold Star of Africa that sits on top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre.
So what has this got to do with Rolls Royce? Well ‘Cullinan’ somewhat bizarrely, is the name that the stately manufacturer has chosen to call its latest automobile…
The Cullinan is a ‘high-sided vehicle’ (HSV?), which is basically Royce-speak for an SUV. It’s the most ‘fitting name for our extraordinary new product’ says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer at Rolls Royce.
To be honest, I think we may now know more about the name’s origins than the vehicle itself right now, but these latest disguised pictures actually come from Rolls Royce themselves, rather than someone hiding in the bushes with a telephoto lens, which shows that the company want to get people talking about this curious vehicle which first caused a stir back in 2016 when spy shots were distributed of the manufacturer carrying out some initial Arctic testing.
The Cullinan has already put in a shift at the Nurburgring where it apparently held its own very well for such a large vehicle, utilising its dialled in air suspension and extra stiff aluminium chassis to avoid body roll on the famous test track.
In fact, the vehicle’s lightweight but anti-flex platform is likely to be rolled out to other Rolls Royce vehicles in time too, offering all the holy grail benefits of torsional stiffness and lightweight that car manufacturers crave.
Good news is that the Goodwood plant’s capacity will be increased in anticipation of the arrival of the Cullinan which should create more jobs. Rolls Royce do hope to see an increase in productivity that should help to sell an additional 3000 cars per annum globally once the new 4×4 Cullinan is up and smoothly running.
So what of the car itself? Well as mentioned, the car will sit on air suspension, with all the benefits of adjustable ride height one can presume, and will likely be powered by an 8-speed auto transmission controlling the company’s twin turbocharged V12 engine, the N74. The car will share much of its architecture with the Phantom 8, which technically should mean that we shouldn’t entirely rule out a 4-wheel drive Phantom at some point. In the meantime, you can expect to see a 4×4 Cullinan on a street near you some time in 2018.
Images: carwow.co.uk, carmagazine.co.uk