When it was launched at the beginning of 2003, I’d never have picked the Rolls Phantom as my car of the decade.

You need a few years to see how such an extraordinary machine settles into the society of cars, and to drive a few examples to be sure they work according to the high-sounding claims.

Vote for your car of the decade here

You also have to know, before you lay your £264,000 (plus options) on the line, that its looks and reputation satisfy your peers as well as yourself. It’s too much money to risk being laughed at.   

Nowadays, I’m entirely confident of the design and role of the Phantom, especially since they’ve sharpened the styling and made some discreet improvements to a fundamentally marvellous design. I now view the Rolls as one of the most desirable cars on the road.

I like the way it looks, I’ve enjoyed (sparingly) the way it drives, and above all, I’m confident that it “occupies the territory” of a national flagship in a way no Rolls-Royce saloon has managed since the Silver Shadow of the mid-’60s.

Think about it: the Rolls-Royces after 1965 were increasingly compromised in engineering and styling (thanks mainly to the poor resources of the companies that owned Rolls on the way to its present BMW ownership). By the turn of the millennium, the whole notion of a British automotive flagship desperately needed to be unravelled and re-thought.