Rolls-Royce devotees undeterred by recession

Tue Jun 23, 2009 7:37am EDT
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Grim economy be damned. How glum can you be when surrounded by stately, polished automobile royalty?

There's little to celebrate elsewhere in the car world. On top of that, U.S. stocks are still languishing and the country's jobless rate is at a 26-year high.

But the mood was buoyant at the Rolls-Royce Owners Club, where some 500 members of the U.S.-based club, which also welcomes Bentley enthusiasts, tended their Silver Ghosts and Phantom Vs at the Louisiana Superdome on Saturday.

Judges surveyed rows of gleaming automobiles -- some of them almost a century old. Members sipped champagne and kept their expensive chariots free of fingerprints and dust.

Julius Cohn of White Plains, New York, has spent a fortune restoring and maintaining his 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn.

"Only 111 of these were made in the left-hand driving type, with a stick shift," Cohn boasted.

Some of the vehicles on display are valued at more than $1 million, but Cohn said pricetags are irrelevant.

"We hope enough people imbue in their children the appreciation of nice things that these cars will always be preserved," he said.   Continued...

<p>Don Knobler, of Dallas, Texas shows off his 1989 Rolls Royce Corniche at the Rolls-Royce Owners Club at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, June 20, 2009. REUTERS/Kathy Finn</p>