IRVINE, Calif — Glenn and Gigi Moss are impossible to dislike. I spent less than half a day with them and it’s obvious that they still love each other as much today as they did when they first got together back in 1976.
45 years is a long time for any couple to stay together, especially when you meet as teenagers (she was 17, he was 15).
But their relationship blossomed and turned into children, grandchildren, and a successful third-generation auto dealer business in Riverside, California. And when it came time to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, Glenn decided to go big. Really big.
It’s important to pause for a moment to talk about two things. First, Rolls-Royce very, very rarely talks about the customers who commission its automobiles. In fact, this is the only time in all my years of covering cars that I’ve ever been introduced to a Rolls-Royce owner by the company. So, when Rolls-Royce PR invited me up to Orange County to meet Glenn and Gigi, I jumped at the opportunity.
Second, the couple are not what you think of when you imagine a typical Rolls-Royce buyer. The Phantom starts at more than $500,000 and rises sharply from there as you add options on. And a special Rolls-Royce Collection car like the Phantom Tempus that Glenn purchased likely cost more than $750,000.
It’s rare for a first-time Rolls-Royce buyer to pick up a Phantom at all, never mind a limited edition car like this. Glenn has been in the car business all his life, thanks to his family’s dealerships, but until a few years ago had never ridden in a Rolls — never mind thought about buying one.
He’s not a Kardashian or Middle Eastern royalty. He’s a successful car dealer in Riverside. He’s the type of guy you’d want to have a beer with, not one you’d expect to have one of the most expensive automobiles in the world.
But a partnership between Rolls-Royce and American Express saw Glenn and Gigi loaned a Rolls-Royce Dawn (the convertible one) for a day a few years ago. “This is a different world,” Glenn told me in an interview. “I’m a car dealer and I’ve driven a lot of cars and I’d never experienced something like that.”
“I love Honda and Toyota and Chrysler,” he said, naming off the car brands that enabled his automotive purchases. “But that’s just a different world.”
After a few years, Glenn finally decided to buy himself a Phantom as an anniversary present, despite never having even ridden in one. The only Rolls he had ever driven was the Dawn on that one-day loan years earlier, but he knew he wanted the best. Kellyn Dixon, his Rolls-Royce salesperson, was shocked. She didn’t realize that he had effectively bought a three-quarters-of-a-million dollar car without ever trying it out. “I didn’t need to,” Glenn answered simply.
“He’s been in the car business all his life and [individual] cars don’t mean anything to him,” Gigi told me. “Except for the ones that do.”
Despite her husband’s job, Gigi was never really into cars. She was a kindergarten teacher, and all her cars were on dealer plates. If someone wanted to buy her car, it got sold right out from under her.
“I get it Monday, it can be sold on Thursday,” she explained. “I’ve never been attached to my cars.” Even before they owned the car dealerships, Gigi had never owned a new car — she only had hand-me-downs from her brothers, before getting dealership demo cars for the last few decades.
That means her Hellrot (bright red, in German) Black Badge Rolls-Royce Dawn was Gigi’s first-ever new car. “For the first time, I’ve picked out my own car,” Gigi told me animatedly. “These are the first cars I’ve gotten excited about. They’re our cars.”
Though she knew about the Phantom, he took a surprise turn into the Rolls-Royce dealership for her to pick out her car too. “I thought we were going grocery shopping and we drove into the dealership,” she said. “Glenn said ‘I’m going to buy you a car,’ and I tried to get out of it… a little bit.”
Rolls-Royce Collection cars are very special to the company. Instead of building cars to a particular customer’s wishes (a bespoke commission), Collection vehicles are entirely handled by the company’s in-house design team. The Phantom Tempus was inspired by time, space, and Albert Einstein — a quote from the famous physicist is emblazoned on a plaque in the glovebox: “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
The interior roof is covered with a must-be-seen-to-be-believed embroidered and painted interpretation of a pulsar star. The incredible Starlight Headliner has been customized to fit the theme, and, for the first time, thousands of additional Starlight fiber optic cables have been fitted to the doors so they glow as well.
On the dash is a sculpture with 100 individual columns, carved from a single piece of aluminum, to represent the 100-million year rotational period of a pulsar star. The Phantom Tempus is also the first modern Rolls-Royce to omit an analog clock from the dashboard, an absence intended to remind owners that they are not bound by time.
Beneath the solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy, the winged emblem of Rolls-Royce at the front of the Phantom’s bonnet, is engraved the date and latitude and longitude where Glenn and Gigi first met.
Not to be outdone, Gigi’s Rolls-Royce Dawn has a Spirit of Ecstasy carved from carbon fiber, with a different date and coordinates engraved on it. This time, it’s commemorating the time and place of their wedding 40 years ago.
That makes these cars a matched set, and likely something unique for Rolls-Royce. Typically Collection cars like the Phantom Tempus have very strict guidelines on what can be changed so as to not detract from the hard work of the
design team. But Glenn made more changes to his Phantom than perhaps any other Collection buyer ever, the Rolls-Royce team told me.
He changed the exterior color (to a triple-clear coat Alpine White with tiny crystals embedded in the topcoat to make it glitter in the sun), the hand-painted coachline, the interior color, and several other decorative components. It apparently took meetings upon meetings to convince the design team to allow it, but, in the end, Glenn got his car just the way he wanted it.
And he finally got to drive it, too. Glenn told me over email that his new Phantom was “absolutely the most amazing vehicle I’ve ever driven,” and that, like with the Dawn a few years ago, “it was like floating on a cloud.”
He finished by noting that, between his wife and his cars, “my true thoughts are how lucky I really am.”