Skip to main content

We Roadtripped New England In a Rolls-Royce Dawn

$400,000 worth of wonderful.

The new Rolls-Royce Dawn is the epitome of bespoke British motoring. But it's also right at home in the ritzier parts of New England, where those rabble rousers from Old Blighty first arrived some 400 years ago.

We recently got the chance to pilot the $350,000-plus convertible – closer to $400,000 with the usual options – from Newport, Rhode Island to Old Saybrook, Connecticut, taking in the scenery along the way.

Though our eyes were mostly glued to the interior of the beautifully finished drop-top, which has the most sumptuous leather imaginable and an impressive array of exotic wood veneers.

We were equipped for the journey with a Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea from Bob's Watches, a sort of super-Submariner with Rolex's patented Ring Lock System and Original Gas Escape Valve that can take you down into 12,800 feet of water in style.

Which was a good thing because the first day of our drive was plagued by heavy rain, which meant the top remained up, and though perhaps not ideal it allowed us to focus on the considerable creature comforts of the cabin.

Our base in Newport was the posh Vanderbilt Grace hotel, located in a historic brick mansion built in 1909 by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, scion of the legendary Vanderbilt family.

From there we made haste to Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a tony town best known as the former home of Katherine Hepburn, the actress famed for playing various WASP-y dames in classics like The Philadelphia Story.

And halfway there the sun started to emerge, the top went down, and the Dawn proved it's stuff as the stateliest convertible ever to cruise the scenic byways of the place the Pilgrim Fathers decided to call home.

We're not quite sure what they would have made of such a sybaritic conveyance, but quite possible a drive in the Dawn would have turned them from Pilgrims to purgatory. Though they would have had a damn sight more fun.

Though perhaps not as much as we did, seeing that the luxury hotels and such were still a few hundred years away. In Old Saybrook we set up shop at the Saybrook Point Inn, on the Connecticut coast with a view of not one but two lighthouses from its private dining room.

En route we also discovered Gillette Castle, a rather insane confection of rock built in 1919 by an eccentric actor known for playing Sherlock Holmes. The Castle was alas closed for the season, and in any case not open to motor vehicles, but what is the point of driving a $400,000 car if you're just going to follow signs?

Hence the photo above, which will probably never be taken again, though we think old Gillette, and especially Mr. Holmes, would have approved. Would he have opted for the mandarin orange leather, though? But of course, old boy....