One-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce ‘Mahlangu’ Phantom is Proudly South African

By: Ian McLaren

Globally renowned artist and South African treasure, Dr Esther Mahlangu, has lent her unique touch to a one-off Rolls-Royce Phantom set to reside in the Western Cape.

Inspired by the famous body of work created by the now 84-year-old Mahlangu, regional director of Rolls-Royce motor cars Middle East and Africa, César Habib, and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars South Africa, Justin Divaris, conspired to source a buyer for a one-of-a-kind Phantom that would, quite literally, serve as a rolling work of art. With a buyer secured and his personal preferences consulted, the team collaborated with Dr Mahlangu to create a bespoke piece that would then be shipped to Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood-based production line to be set behind a sheet of glass in the Phantom’s “gallery” facia.

Painting since the age of 10, Mahlangu gained recognition in the automotive world in 1991 when she was commissioned, alongside the likes of Andy Warhol, to feature in the BMW Art Car Collection. That now famous 525i “African Art Car” would be joined in 2016 by a one-off 7 Series displayed at the Frieze Art Fair in London.

Finished in white throughout, the Mahlangu Phantom is recogisable from the outside via its hand-painted replica of the gallery’s artwork on the car’s front flanks, while a commemorative plaque adorns the door sills.

“I am delighted to unveil ‘The Mahlangu Phantom’, a striking expression of contemporary African art,” said Habib. “Phantom’s Gallery is a unique environment for patrons of the marque to express personal and often highly creative artwork and we are honoured to showcase Dr Mahlangu’s work in this Phantom’s serene interior.”

With nearly every Rolls-Royce delivered featuring some level of bespoke treatment, Habib explained the company will complete any request as long as it’s physically possible, and meets road legal requirements. Another favourite element for bespoke treatment is the roof lining, where patrons are invited to get creative by way of LED lighting configured to resemble star clusters. While the Mahlangu Phantom’s “night sky” even incorporates a shooting star, other patrons have requested the brand source and recreate constellations as they appeared on the night of special occasions in the owner’s life, including children’s birth dates.

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