Is this the world’s most expensive new car?
Villa d’Este, Italy – THIS IS not an existing Rolls-Royce model with special features added by the Bespoke division at Goodwood, nor is it a show car.
This is a unique coachbuilt two seater designed by and for a customer who also collects classic yachts and vintage aircraft (yes – he is very, very wealthy) as a modern interpretation of the flamboyant streamlined bodies fitted to RollsRoyce chassis in the 1920s and 30s.
He brought his ideas to RollsRoyce in 2013 where he and design director Giles Taylor developed an understanding of what the customer was asking for – a two-seat coupé with a long, sweeping all-glass roof over a boat-tail rear deck; a contradiction in terms, if you will, but a strikingly dramatic one.
Over the next four years Taylor and his team brought the customer’s distinct vision to life - and the result of this one-off coachbuild project is the unique Rolls-Royce Sweptail.
The classic upright front treatment is centred on the largest grille on any modern-era Rolls-Royce, and a brushed-aluminium frame was added to the front end in place of a conventional bumper.
The rather American-looking profile echoes the ‘streamline’ sedans of the 1930s, with the most dramatically stretched but still beautifully understated C-pillar we’ve ever seen.
The sweeping roofline extends past the edge of the body, tapering inwards at the same time to create a raked stern inspired by the iconic racing yachts of the 1920s – and the rear bodywork also curves in under the car with no visible corners or seams, again echoing the sleek perfection of a classic sailboat.
But the most dramatic feature of this car is the one specifically requested by the customer – a onepiece glass roof, one of the biggest and most complex on any car, framed by polished aluminium rails.
The interior, however, is a masterpiece of minimalism, set in rare and beautiful materials; it’s finished in polished macassar ebony and openpore paldao wood veneer, trimmed in beige and ivory leather.
As in the boat-tailed roadsters of the 1920s, the entire area behind the seats is panelled in wood, forming a mid-shelf with an illuminated glass lip, and a hat shelf with polished rails that extends right down to the end of the roofline, accessed through a separate, opening rear window.
The macassar ebony dashboard is the cleanest to date on any RollsRoyce, with only one control, and the iconic dashboard clock which has titanium hands.
The cherry on the top is the handmade mechanism inside the centre console chiller.
At the touch of a button, it brings up two champagne flutes and a bottle of champagne, tilted to the perfect angle for the owner to pick it up.
The cost of this exercise in automotive perfection is estimated at around £10 million (R166 million) making it arguably the world’s most expensive new car.
- IOL Motoring
Dramatically-styled Sweptail is a one-off car built for a wealthy customer.