Convertible brings a new dawn for $800k

By Doug Laing

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WHEELER-DEALING: Hawke's Bay businessmen Nino D'Esposito (left) and Rodney Green (right) savour and discuss the comforts of the car with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Auckland brand manager Neil D'Arcy-Brain.PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR
WHEELER-DEALING: Hawke's Bay businessmen Nino D'Esposito (left) and Rodney Green (right) savour and discuss the comforts of the car with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Auckland brand manager Neil D'Arcy-Brain.PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR

The car dealer charged with making possibly the two highest-priced car sales in New Zealand this year has shown off a demo model to prospects in Hawke's Bay, but can't say if any are forking out for its price-tag which could be about $800,000.

Asked where his buyers are from, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Auckland brand manager Neil D'Arcy-Brain told Hawke's Bay Today: "Let's just say New Zealand is our customer."

"The minute I say which area, everyone will be trying to guess who it is."

He arrived in Napier with the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible on Thursday in the first week of a nationwide tour, which he says is as much about showcasing the brand as it is about the gleaming model he paraded before a few members of the Hawke's Bay Club.

It was flown from Heathrow to Auckland, and arrived in New Zealand on March 25 with just 17km on the clock, but it could have 10,000km by the time it goes on the market as an ex-demo next year.

In the meantime, Mr D'Arcy-Brain has an allocation of two to sell, and said one had already been snapped up and would be with its new owner in September/October while, all going well, the second would be signed off within a few weeks, to be produced to order at Goodwood and delivered by the end of the year.

One's expected to replicate the dark-blue model and its orange-mandarin leather upholstery to be seen on Hawke's Bay roads this weekend, although prospective buyers have up to 44,000 colour schemes to choose from.

By the time each is ready, it will have had about 450 hours' labour put into it from as many as 60 people, most with specialist tasks, such as the "artisan" honing of about $40,000 worth of gleaming timberwork around the interior.

Asked whether buyers tended to pay cash or roll up flashing the plastic, or with the backing of a finance card, Mr D'Arcy-Brain - who also has other models to sell such as the Ghost, the Phantom and the Wraith - said buyers of Rolls-Royce in New Zealand were special people in more ways than one.

"They've been entrepreneurs, they've run very successful businesses, and they're popular with their staff because they've looked after them," he said.

"And ... they are very philanthropic people. People often forget how much they have contributed back to the community."

Napier businessman Rodney Green, who instigated the Hawke's Bay Club gathering for fellow members, bought his Rolls-Royce Ghost having first seen it on a similar tour by Mr D'Arcy-Brain in 2012 - the first such tour after the Rolls-Royce dealership, the most distant from the factory in England, was established.

It wasn't his first; he had a pre-owned one in 1980.

But it is likely to remain only his second - and one of only four Ghosts in the Hawke's Bay which he is aware of.

He confirmed he's not one of the intending owners of a Rolls-Royce Dawn. Unlike most of us, he isn't even thinking of it.

Colleague and Napier fishing company boss Nino D'Esposito was, however, not quite so definite.

A Mercedes driver, he noted "[the car] retails at $837,000 but the exchange rate has brought that down to seven-eighty something".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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