I am sure Rolls-Royce will have chosen the name ‘Wraith’ after much consideration and thought, however I can’t help picture those creepy aliens in TV’s Stargate series whenever I watch the video above.
Wraith is of course the Scottish term for ‘spirit’ or ‘ghost’, both of which feature prominently in the history of the Rolls-Royce marque, and rather than an entity which sucks the life out of its victims I suspect ‘wraith’ has more to do with the eerily silent way in which the car maker’s newest model picks up speed and dispatches all-comers with such consummate ease.
The new Rolls-Royce Wraith is tipped to produce more than 600bhp from its twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 engine (up from 563bhp and 575lb-ft in the Ghost), weigh around 2,300kg and more closely resemble the 200EX concept upon which both models are based.
The name Wraith was first used by the marque in 1938 for the model which superseded the 1936 25/30 hp. Its lifespan was cut short by the outbreak of World War II in 1939, making it one of the rarest pre-war R-R’s with only 491 chassis ever made.
Although these days a rare and popular collectors car, it’s never been the most admired model from the car maker’s past, so perhaps Rolls-Royce can rewrite history with its 21st century namesake, which is a coupé version of the (more compact) Ghost.
Wraith alludes to an almost imperceptible but powerful force, something rare, agile and potent, a spirit that will not be tethered to the earth. It is the perfect name for our new model.” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Due to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on 5 March 2013, Wraith will be the most powerful and dynamic model in the company’s 108-year history with first deliveries expected in the fourth quarter of 2013.
“This is a car not only defined by a timeless elegance, but one that encapsulates a sense of power, style and drama,” added Müller-Ötvös.
“When you encounter Wraith, your world stands still as it whispers by. It possesses an unmistakable presence but is difficult, if not impossible, to corral. It defies attempts to contain it.”
Further updates will be released leading up to the Geneva Motor Show, on the 12th, 19th and 26th February.
The origin of the name
Words: Rolls-Royce Motors.
In the decade since Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ re-emergence as the most revered name in motoring, the wordPhantom has become synonymous with peerless luxury. Its launch in 2003 emphatically heralded the marque’s return to the very pinnacle of excellence, presenting a hand-made luxury good without equal to connoisseurs across the world.
Ghost followed in 2009. It revived one of the most celebrated names in motoring history, embodying the effortless dynamism that characterises the car, as well as the inherent beauty of its 20th Century namesake.
Choosing a name to reflect the newest Rolls-Royce model’s unique character was therefore vital. The task was to find something to suit a car that promised to draw superlatives; the boldest design and the most dynamic, powerful car in the marque’s 108 year history. Yet, a car with more than a hint of the noire.
The choice was clear. The newest addition to the Rolls-Royce family would be called Wraith.
Origins of the word
Derived from Scots dialect, wraith follows traditional Rolls-Royce nomenclature in drawing ethereal inspiration. However, it also hints at a profound sense of darkness, a name that alludes to something more menacing; a nimbler, caliginous foil to Ghost and Phantom’s stately presence.
Though the word ‘wraith’ can be broadly defined, it describes an almost imperceptible force, an otherworldly entity that imposes its presence before swiftly returning to the dark.
When Wraith is present, for that fleeting moment, the world stands still.
Fittingly, the word’s origins are something of a mystery. Scholars believe it first appeared in a Scottish 15th century translation of Virgil’s Aenid, whilst theories exist it has origins in the Gaelic word for ‘guardian angel’.
It was Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns who popularised the word in 1784 – using it in his brooding song ‘Ballad on the American War’:
An’ Chatham’s wraith, in heav’nly graith,
(Inspired Bardies saw, man)
Wi’ kindling eyes. Cry’d, ‘Willie, rise!
Would I hae fear’d them a’, man!’
Beyond this famous verse, there are precious few examples of its use in literature. Indeed, wraith received little attention until 1938 and the introduction of the first Rolls-Royce to bear the name.
Photo: 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith from Jack Barclay Parts