REALISATION OF ONE CUSTOMER’S COACHBUILT DREAM
About a year ago, Rolls-Royce presented 103EX to the world to showcase its coachbuilding heritage and inspire future clientele. That Vision Vehicle projected world of completely personal luxury mobility where new technologies would allow every Rolls-Royce to be designed in their owners’ image, should they wish. Such a Rolls-Royce would represent the truest meaning of luxury – a personal, Bespoke motor car like no other for each individual commissioning patron.
Just acquiring a modern coachbuilt Rolls-Royce was not enough for one Rolls-Royce connoisseur. This individual approached the marque with his own idea of a two-seat Rolls-Royce that he wanted created. That motor car is here, now and is christened ‘Sweptail’. In a nod to the swept-tail of certain Rolls-Royces from the 1920s, admired by the client so much, he asked Rolls-Royce to reimagine this feature on his one-off motor car.
Presenting the car to the media at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este on Saturday 27th May 2017, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said, “Sweptail is a truly magnificent car. It exudes the romance of travel for its own sake, and immediately places ‘Sweptail’ in the pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers. Rolls-Royce’s history as the world’s leading coachbuilder is at the very core of its identity as the world’s leading luxury brand. The arrival of 103EX shone a light on the future of Rolls-Royce in this field, and ‘Sweptail’ is proof, today, that Rolls-Royce is at the pinnacle of coachbuilding. We are listening carefully to our most special customers and assessing their interest in investing in similar, completely exclusive coachbuilt masterpieces. At the same time we are looking into the resources which will allow us to offer this unique service to these discerning patrons of luxury.”
“Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture,” comments Giles Taylor, Director of Design at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer. This customer came to the House of Rolls-Royce with an idea, shared in the creative process where we advised him on his cloth, and then we tailored that cloth to him. You might say we cut the cloth for the suit of clothes that he will be judged by.”
In 2013, a collector of pieces unique like superyachts and private jets approached Rolls-Royce with a “simple” request. The client worked closely with Taylor and the design department to realise his dream.
The inspirational “patrimony” of coach-built Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s instigated the client’s desire for a coach-built two seater coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof. As well as classic yacht architecture, he was inspired by his favourite cars from the Golden Age of Rolls-Royces of the early 20th Century. e.g. grand drama of the 1925 Phantom I Round Door built by Jonckheere; the svelte tapering glasshouse 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 swept tail coachwork of the 1934 Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupé were all used by Rolls-Royce designers to creation of this very distinctive motor car.
The result of this one-off coachbuild project is the completely unique Rolls-Royce.
‘Sweptail’ – A distinct vision
From the front, the ‘Sweptail’ exudes formality with a new treatment of the iconic Rolls-Royce Pantheon grille. The largest of any modern era Rolls-Royce, the grille is milled from solid aluminium before being polished by hand to a mirror finish. The front face of ‘Sweptail’ is framed in brushed aluminium.
The roofline accelerates backwards towards the rear and overshoots the boot lid edge to emphasise its length in tandem with the longer side window graphic and wide C-pillar finisher. From the world of racing yachts, the raked stern injects excitement into the ‘Sweptail’ in stark contrast to the staid majestic front. The roof line tapers towards the centre line, concluding in a ‘bullet-tip’ at the centre brake light and the sweeping lower bumper area combine to create a greater feeling of elegance in motion.
Like the hull of a yacht, the bodywork wraps under the car without a visible boundary and the underside was designed to deliver the visual of a progressive upward sweep at the rear departure angle of the car, culminating in the swept-tail that gives ‘Sweptail’ it name. The uncluttered rear of this piece unique motor car is its identifier and registration number, 08: Two individual digits milled from ingots of aluminium and hand polished. You can see the number on the front aspect as well.
The number ‘8’ is auspicious in certain cultures. It certainly adds intrigue to the speculations about the owner’s origins…..
The panoramic glass roof invites one into the magnificent interior, along with the natural light and was specifically requested by the client. An uninterrupted glass roof, one of the largest and most complex ever seen on any motor car, allows the cabin to be flooded with natural light, illuminating a host of beautifully handcrafted materials and fittings.
A car of this length with only two seats is certainly indulgent to the Nth degree….
Generous quantities of polished Macassar Ebony and open-pore Paldao adorn the interior, creating visual and tactile contrasts for the owner, both classical and contemporary. All their forms however are thoroughly modern as they echo the exterior lines of ‘Sweptail’, hand-formed to encircle the occupants with some of the most beautiful natural materials in the world. This choice of dark and light, Ebony and Paldao, is set off by contrasting light Moccasin and Dark Spice leathers that adorn the seats, armrests and dashboard top.
The Macassar Ebony veneer in the cabin was handcrafted to adorn the dashboard in the most modern way. The cleanest Rolls-Royce dashboard to date, the minimalist ethic dictates that only one control appears on it whilst all other switchgear is discreetly relocated.
The iconic clock blends seamlessly too. In a world first, the face of this Rolls-Royce clock is handmade of the thinnest Macassar veneer, visually embedding the clock into the fascia. The delicacy of this particular piece of veneer allows for its rear illumination to pass through to show the hour marks, meaning the only physical elements on the clock are its hands that are precision machined from titanium.
This use of titanium extends to the faces, numbers and hands on the three hand-assembled instrument dials.
Two final “surprise and delight” features were secreted inside ‘Sweptail’ to the stringent standards of the client.
Concealed in the outboard walls on either side of the motor car, behind the opening of the coach doors, are two identical panniers. Each pannier, when activated, slides forward to present the owner’s bespoke attaché case which has been carefully packaged to exactly house his personal laptop device. The cases were hand-made from lightweight carbon fibre, wrapped in the finest leather that matches the interior of ‘Sweptail’ and detailed with machined aluminium and titanium clasps and locks.
These attaché cases are part of the full set of luggage also developed by Rolls-Royce Bespoke for ‘Sweptail’. The luggage resides in the boot of the motor car; said boot being beautifully clad in the same wood as the hat (or parcel) shelf and inset with polished aluminium luggage rails.
The entire centre console houses a one-off hand-built mechanism that, at the touch of a button, deploys a bottle of the client’s favourite vintage champagne – the year of his birth – and two crystal champagne flutes. As the lid of the chiller opens, the mechanical action presents the bottle to the perfect position for the owner to pick up.
A most personal, coachbuilt Rolls-Royce for a special customer, every aspect of the ‘Sweptail’ expresses handcrafted quality and attention to detail. In short, it is a Rolls-Royce – but like no other before.
You wouldn’t expect any less for $13,000,000…..
Author’s Biography: Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights. His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).