AUTO SHOWS HERE AND ABROAD SHOWCASE A MIX OF EXCELLENCE AND BANALITY. A FEW DAYS BEHIND THE WHEEL OF ONE OF THE WORLD’S FINEST CARS, HOWEVER, HELPS RESTORE THE COMFORTING IDEA THAT AS WITH DENTISTRY, FOR THE AUTO INDUSTRY, THE FUTURE IS NOW. BY DR. ADNAN AHMED


I ROUTINELY ATTEND such industry staples as the Greater New York Dental Meeting to stay abreast of all the latest dental news and equipment. That goes for my top downtime interest, too: I never miss the annual Detroit Auto Show, held just an hour up the road from my practice’s front door.

HOT WHEELS: Toyota’s GR Supra draws a crowd in Geneva; (below) inside the Rolls-Royce Ghost’s cockpit

HOT WHEELS: Toyota’s GR Supra draws a crowd in Geneva; (below) inside the Rolls-Royce Ghost’s cockpit

This year’s jamboree (formally the North American International Auto Show) offered the usual mix. The Ford, GM, Jeep and Chrysler stands were terrific, but the floor was also awash in bland daily-drivers, with inspirational supercars and exotics nowhere to be found. This set me on a quest to find them—and I soon realized I’d have to go further, much further, than the Motor City to satiate myself.

So I had my office manager block off my schedule for a few days (my hygiene department was to keep going in my absence) and directed my associate to cover for me, figuring that the temporary crown on No. 8 I’d put on that one high-maintenance patient would pop off the moment I left. Within hours I was on a red-eye to Geneva, Switzerland, land of fine chocolates, studied neutrality— and an eponymous high-end auto show.

For a true gearhead, Geneva is the ultimate pilgrimage. I ignored my jet lag and made haste for Palexpo, the city’s sleek convention center. As I entered, the sight of so many dream automobiles—Bugatti Chiron, Lamborghini Performante, Ferrari Pista, McLaren Senna, Koenigsegg Regera, even a flying-car prototype—opened my mandible so wide I swear I felt a slight TMJ dislocation.

This was the promised land, and my salivary glands worked overtime as I gawked at the finest the global auto industry has to offer. My mind raced: Just how many implants will I have to place to acquire one of these beauties? I can say with confidence that the future of the automotive industry, like the future of dentistry, is electric, digital and autono- mous. Changes—whether in the form of an electric car or a digital impression system—are coming fast. There’s nothing as thrilling as piloting one of these astonishing beasts. So that’s what I did.

DENTISTRY IS A physically, mentally, emotionally and financially demanding profession. Every so often, though, we dentists enjoy a perfect day: The entire team is in a great mood, every patient shows up on time, we place many implants. The Rolls-Royce Ghost, from Britian’s most famous automotive marque, is that spirit of perfection given corporeal (or rather mechanical) form.

Not long after I returned from Geneva, mile-wide smile intact, I testdrove this magnificent automobile for a few days. Opulent is the best word to describe it. First, it’s enormous—a behemoth, but in a powerful rather than oafish manner. I could immediately spot Rolls’s signature 2:1 ratio—the roofline never exceeds twice the height of the wheels—which gives its cars an unmistakable look and aura. A weighted
mechanism in each wheel keeps the sparkling RR logo always pointed straight up: a beautiful, unnecessary fillip emblematic of the thought that went into the vehicle’s construction.

How much thought? The first thing I noticed when I climbed in had nothing to do with cars per se: an RR-emblazoned umbrella holder on the driver’s door. The umbrella itself exuded craftsmanship. Pop it back into its holster wet, and a current of warm air will dry it quickly. That’s how much thought.

When I turned the car on, the famous Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament arose from a chamber within—an entrance executed with all the pomp and majesty of the British Empire. (You can also commission the celestial pattern from your birthdate and location, rendered in LED “stars” on the car’s interior roof. A Toyota Corolla this ain’t.)

As I zipped along, the Ghost gobbled up all irregularities on the road surface, granting me the smoothest driving experience I’d ever enjoyed. (The carmaker dubs this sensation the “magic carpet ride,” and the name is apt.) To put it in dental terms: The difference between a Rolls-Royce and any ordinary car is akin to the difference between digital X-rays and X-rays processed in a dip tank. Remember the sheer awe you felt when you first saw those digital images? Driving this magnificent vehicle was like that—mile upon mile upon mile.

A weighted mechanism in each wheel keeps the sparkling RR logo always pointed straight up: a beautiful, unnecessary fillip emblematic of the thought that went into the vehicle’s construction.

The Ghost’s interior appointments are all handcrafted in England, with meticulous stitching, supple leather and exquisite fits and finishes. The front seats offer navigation and climate controls with haptic feedback to put the finest smartphone to shame. The seats themselves are a wonderful place to spend time after a day on one’s feet, hunched over in crown preparation. The rear seats are set high for a commanding view; the rear is so spacious you could practically fit your whole dental team back there.

How deep do the refinements go? The hood— the “bonnet,” in British parlance—has exactly zero rough edges, and the trunk (sorry, the “boot”) was lined with lamb’s wool. I did notice that a few switches were pilfered from the BMW 7 Series (the German automaker is now Rolls’s parent company), but the overall package is so nicely done I decided to disregard the brand overlap. The puissance of the 6.75-liter V12 is almost beyond description. You could invade a foreign nation in this thing.

The above engine details aside, I’ve advisedly neglected to offer any numbers or specifications here. With vehicles like this, such trifles are beside the point. (Well, except price: A new Rolls-Royce Ghost starts around $315,000, accelerat- ing very quickly from there.) Rolls is all about emotions and sensations, not MPG or RPM readings. In that spirit, the company used to decline to disclose horsepower, stating with almost parodic British reserve that their cars’ power was “adequate.” And how.

ROAD RAGER: Rugged, rutted city streets have never been so overmatched

ROAD RAGER: Rugged, rutted city streets have never been so overmatched

In short, Rolls isn’t a car. It’s a state of mind. Whatever the quality of the offerings at a given auto show, that’s worth remembering. An industry capable of producing such extraordinary machines is still an industry, whatever its faults, with a long way to run.

DR. ADNAN AHMED, a graduate of New York University College of Dentistry, practices in Toledo, Ohio. He last wrote for Incisal Edge about the BMW 5 Series.