On the 10 May, a spectacular affair unfolded online, you might say #EffortlessEverywhere.

All hashed out at every social network opportunity for the launch of ‘Cullinan’ the latest Rolls-Royce, a premium SUV.

However, for some reason this event, does take me back to my teenage years in the seventies and a fascination for Rolls-Royce which I developed while working on a farm. Long days that I hated at the time, as I was trying to get a job in design, but days I remember quite fondly now.

The owner of the farm a wealthy landowner wasn’t a greedy man but did have two Rolls-Royces a Silver Shadow and an earlier Phantom V, although this one was always just parked in an open barn, unlocked, flat battery and a grand place to have my sandwiches.

Alongside these, he also had a Jaguar XJ12 or was it a Daimler Double-Six? Shame about the unreliability, it never, ever went and to top-up the driveway, a Lancia Flavia 2000 Berlina, Lancia Fulvia Berlina 2C and a Mini Clubman Estate, which made a tremendous small rally car for driving around the farm.

The forever filthy Silver Shadow was indeed used as a sort of luxury farm limo, mainly due to the owner’s inability to walk any distance. Along with trips to the garden centre, occasionally to collect tractor parts and longer journeys to London for his various business needs. My employer was mostly driven accompanied by the glamorous Miss Elizabeth the company secretary and farm manager.

A hot sunny day harvesting would be met with the boss, himself driving the car across the freshly cut hay or straw to check on our progress with the harvest. From behind the bales this Silver Shadow just surfed across the freshly-cut field, the metallic silver shining, this seventies car just appeared to be – ‘effortless everywhere’.

Every time this activity would be followed by us, hot and sweaty from the sun, with gasps of not again! Mere farm labourers, me and Mr Merkel a Polish POW, sheaf knives at the ready and soon to be under the precious car chopping at the rather tightly wound straw around the prop shaft. Some days the local Haywards Heath Caffyns would be called out for emergency assistance. On bad days the Rolls would just have to be abandoned entirely in the field until the showery weather improved. Once the car was free, driving again on wet straw could be another disaster.

So here we are 40 years later with the latest a Rolls-Royce that surely looks ‘the dogs’ in more ways than one with its ‘love it or hate it’ stying. The Cullinan, a big diamond in the dust, with the most impressive off-road ability at the press of just one big button. The ability to waltz onto any field, trail or mountain and just sit, a distinctive SUV with the most unique seats that revolve from the rear boot.

I must admit since these years on the farm, Rolls-Royce’s have always fascinated me. All probably since my first trip in the Silver Shadow, to J Sainsbury’s Haywards Heath (a grocery shop, before superstores, were invented) sitting in the back of the Rolls with my filthy Doc Martens caked in manure on a rush for food and lawnmower parts.

I can’t wait to see this Cullinan in the flesh; I did get a glimpse of a mule version a few weeks back as I headed to visit my mother in Sussex. It actually appeared slightly smaller than I thought it would be as it purred by.

My fascination with Rolls-Royce will continue, I look forward to seeing it on or offroad soon.

Jonathan Humphrey
Jonathan Humphrey
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