Sun sets on Rolls-Royce Dawn as convertible production ends

Luxury firm's best-selling covertible killed off as marque focuses on electric future

(Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)(Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)
(Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Rolls-Royce has announced that it is ending production of its Dawn four-seater convertible.

The drop-top stablemate to the Wraith coupe has been on sale for seven years but production is now ending as the marque turns its attention to new electrified models, making this the last V12 convertible from Rolls-Royce. 

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The Dawn was launched in 2016 as one of the new Goodwood-era cars designed to appeal to a younger audience, sitting alongside the Wraith and first-generation Ghost, beneath the more “old-world” Phantom flagship.

Positioned as a smaller and more accessible alternative to the Phantom Drophead Coupe, the Dawn was aimed at more youthful buyers who wanted the “glamour and romance” of super-luxury motoring but “in tune with their contemporary tastes and lifestyle”. It’s a strategy that has clearly worked as the Dawn is the best-selling convertible in the brand’s history and the average age of the marque’s customers has fallen by almost 20 years since the launch of the Goodwood cars.

Although based on the same platform and roughly the same size as the Wraith coupe, Rolls-Royce’s bosses insisted that the Dawn was more than just a convertible version of that model. As a result, the designers drew inspiration from the ultra-limited-run Silver Dawn, of which just 28 examples were built between 1950 and 1954. 

Bosses also insisted that the Dawn was a proper four-seater rather than the more typical 2+2 arrangement of most drop-tops. Thanks to its 5.2-metre length, they managed that, with the usual Rolls-Royce space and luxury for four passengers. 

The Dawn has been the best-selling convertible in Rolls-Royce's history (Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)The Dawn has been the best-selling convertible in Rolls-Royce's history (Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)
The Dawn has been the best-selling convertible in Rolls-Royce's history (Photo: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Of course, it was also important that the Dawn shared the refinement of other Rolls-Royces despite having a folding fabric roof and the Dawn was reportedly as quiet inside with the roof up as the fixed-roof Wraith. And to make sure passengers weren’t unduly upset by the wind with the roof open, engineers spend hundreds of hours chauffeuring around a dummy with a long wig to measure how airflow affected the cabin.

The Dawn featured the same 6.75-litre V12 fitted to everything from the Phantom to the Cullinan, albeit with just 563bhp compared with the Wraith’s 600+. For buyers after more power, the Black Badge variant added another 30bhp but Rolls has always insisted the Dawn was all about relaxed and “sociable” progress with friends rather than burning up the Tarmac. Although 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds is hardly sluggish.

While that engine lives on in the rest of the Rolls-Royce range, the Dawn is the first petrol-powered model to fall by the wayside as the marque prepares to launch its first all-electric model. That car - the Spectre - will arrive later this year as a successor to the Phantom Coupe, while the Wraith will also shortly disappear from production, bringing to an end Rolls-Royce’s long tradition of V12-powered coupes and leaving buyers wondering what the future will bring for other models as the marque goes all-electric by 2030.

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