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Rolls-Royce puts ‘old’ smell back into cars

Chemical solution mimics the smell of the wood once used

SHARE Rolls-Royce puts ‘old’ smell back into cars

LONDON — After sniffing a number of older models, the manufacturers of Rolls-Royce cars have discovered what is worrying some of the owners of newer cars. They just don't smell right. Not wooden enough.

Now S.G. Gordon Ltd. has distilled the woody tang of a traditional Rolls-Royce in a bottle and are applying it to newer cars.

All the vehicles are lined with leather, but newer models include more plastic, which emits an odor unfamiliar to Rolls-Royce owners, said Hugh Hadland, managing director of the company based at Luton, north of London.

"Stepping into a Rolls-Royce is a sensuous experience, and smell is the most evocative of the senses. It's very important," said Hadland, whose customers include royalty, show business celebrities and oil magnates.

Hadland said he began investigating the problem about two years ago, after complaints from a number of customers.

Assisted by a friend who works in the food flavoring industry, he discovered that although all the cars have hide-covered interiors that produce a lavish, leathery smell, the newer models include a lot of molded plastic in places where wood was used in the older cars.

What customers were actually complaining about, said Hadland, was the smell of plastic.

The two men worked on a chemical solution that mimicked the smell of the older cars, using a classic 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud as the model.

"People assume that the smell is leather, but what we found was that a major constituent of it is wood," said Hadland. "So we put a lot of wood into the artificial scent."

"On its own it smells quite peculiar, though not unpleasant, but in the car it mixes psychologically with sight and other senses to produce a wonderful effect."