Rolling in It

This car isn’t just a Rolls-royce. It’s the world’s most ex­pen­sive coach­built car, and you'll never guess what went into it.

Bespoke - - VEHICLES -

As if owning a Rolls-royce wasn't spe­cial enough, one of the brand's most val­ued cus­tomers – de­scribed as a “con­nois­seur and col­lec­tor of dis­tinc­tive, one-off items in­clud­ing su­pery­achts and pri­vate air­craft” – man­aged to per­suade the 111-year old au­tomaker to cre­ate a car just for him. Now, be­fore you go and grab your cheque book, you should prob­a­bly know that the cost of this in­dul­gence amounted to an eye­wa­ter­ing sum of around 13 mil­lion USD. It also took four years to make, fi­nally get­ting its grand un­veil­ing in May, at this year'scon­corso d'el­e­ganza at Villa d'este on Lake Como. Named the Swep­tail it's es­sen­tially a mas­sive coach­built twoseater coupé fea­tur­ing the largest panoramic glass roof ever seen on a car. Many of its de­sign el­e­ments were plucked from iconic Rolls-royces of the past. For ex­am­ple, it's got the grandeur, scale, flam­boy­ance and drama of the 1925 Phan­tom I Round Door built by Jon­ck­heere; the svelte ta­per­ing glasshouse, dra­matic dash-toaxle pro­por­tion and up-sweep of the rear de­par­ture an­gle of the 1934 Phan­tom II Stream­line Sa­loon by Park Ward; the el­e­gantly fall­ing waist-rail, swept-tail coach­work of the 1934 Gur­ney Nutting Phan­tom II Two Door Light Sa­loon, and the flow­ing roofline, ris­ing de­par­ture an­gle, and again the swept-tail coach­work of the 1934 Park Ward 20/25 Limou­sine Coupé. Like the ex­te­rior, the in­te­rior was al­most en­tirely cus­tom-made and fea­tures end­less amounts of leather and wood, us­ing a mix of pol­ished Ma­cas­sar Ebony and open-pore Pal­dao wood. The ana­logue clock in the dash is made of ma­chined ti­ta­nium. The cen­tre con­sole hides a cham­pagne chiller and two crys­tal flutes. In­stead of a hid­den um­brella, like in the Phan­tom, the car’s side­walls con­ceal a pair of car­bon fi­bre brief­cases specif­i­cally de­signed to fit the owner's lap­top. There's even a match­ing car­bon fi­bre lug­gage set in the trunk. And to top all it off, there's a shelf for the lucky owner's hat. “Swep­tail is the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of haute cou­ture,” saysgiles Tay­lor, Di­rec­tor of De­sign at Rolls-royce Mo­tor Cars. “It is aroll­sRoyce de­signed and hand-tai­lored to fit a spe­cific cus­tomer. Our­job was to guide, edit and finely hone the lines that would ul­ti­mately give our client this most per­fect of Rolls-royces.” So if you're still sold on the idea then get that cheque the end of the day, this may be the world's most ex­pen­sive new car but buy­ing a 1962 Fer­rari 250 GTO would ac­tu­ally set you back 38 mil­lion USD. And where would you put your cham­pagne in that one?

Top: One of the car­bon fi­bre cases de­vel­oped by Rolls-royce. Bot­tom: De­spite its hefty size and price this grand-tourer seats only two. Right: The size, scale and com­plex­ity of the glass roof’s cur­va­ture is a marvel to be­hold, and from above it...

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