Rolls-Royce’s Ghost is powered by a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 that makes 849Nm of torque from just 1,600rpm. That amount of twist from such a modest crank speed is one of the things that makes the Ghost so special. Cast your eye across the instrument display—there’s no rev counter, because a Rolls-Royce divorces itself from the conventional methodology of forward motion. Instead, you get a ‘power reserve’ gauge, and at a 110kph cruise, you will have almost 100% at your disposal. It’s an old Rolls-Royce trope, but it’s still a good one.
Yet here we are on a Devon farmyard with a piece of machinery that makes the Ghost look more like a 2CV. This is Thor, a 1954 Scammell Pioneer tank recovery vehicle, a 6x4 behemoth whose 12.7-liter Leyland T12 turbodiesel has enough grunt to pull a felled forest’s worth of tree stumps out of the ground. Thor’s owner David is a former naval bomb-disposal expert, a man for whom the explosive vicissitudes of land-based ordnance evidently weren’t scary enough.
“It only does 24mph (39kph),” he tells me, as great plumes of exhaust billow through the early morning sunshine. “The trickiest thing about driving it is the amount of forward planning you need to do. There’s no synchro on the box, you see, although you can get to most places in fifth or sixth gear...”