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Rolls-Royce's are hot. Got one?

By Dian Vujovich

The U.S. automobile industry enjoyed some strong sales last year. But for those who really love a fine ride, Rolls-Royce experienced its best sales year in its 107-year history.

Have breakfast on the patio at say Testa’s or Cucina Dell Arte any morning of the week and you’re sure to spot at least one Rollzie parked along Royal Poinciana Way. Although I’m not sure how many Palm Beacher’s drive these seriously substantial luxury vehicles, of the 3,347 sold in 2011, I’m sure you know a neighbor or two who is cruising around in a new Ghost or Phantom.

That said, sales growth for this famous but never advertised brand didn’t come primarily from U.S. customers. Sales in the Asia-Pacific region of the world won those top honors as sales there grew by 47 percent. Next came North America and the Middle East. Germany, Russia and Britain also saw double-digit growth.

FYI, the MSRP for a 2011 Ghost, without extras like hand embroidered and initialed seats, was $246,500.

Andrew Ball, corporate communications manager for Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England said a lot of the new buyers are entrepreneurs. “What we’re seeing from our customer base is that a large percentage is from an entrepreneurial background….They are wealth generators and creating money for the economy, and they have every right to celebrate their success and buy the very best they can.”

Buying and driving the best is something lots of people dream of. And the best doesn’t necessarily mean driving the newest Rolls on the road. Ball said it certainly didn’t hurt business when Katherine Middleton stepped out of a Rolls-Royce Phantom at Westminster Abbey to marry Britain’s Prince William.

In case you many have forgotten, Kate and her dad rode to the church in a 1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI. BTW, the car was a gift given to the Queen by the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders for her Silver Jubilee in 1978. Nice gift.

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