In 2013, Rolls-Royce was
approached by one of its most valued customers with a very particular request.
A connoisseur and collector of distinctive, one-off items including
super-yachts and private aircraft, this gentleman came to Rolls-Royce to
realise his vision of a one-off luxury motor car like no other.
The client immediately
established a close rapport with the design department led by Giles Taylor, Director of Design at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, who set about bringing the idea
to life. “Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture,” comments
Taylor, adding that “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.”
Inspired by the beautiful
coachbuilt Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s, the client’s desire was for a
coachbuilt two seater coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof. As a
connoisseur of Rolls-Royces, he was inspired by many of his favourite cars from
the marque’s golden era of the early 20th Century, as well as many classic and
The grandeur, scale,
flamboyance and drama of the 1925 Phantom I Round Door built by Jonckheere; the
svelte tapering glasshouse, dramatic dash to axle 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 were all considered by today’s Rolls-Royce designers in the
creation of this very distinctive motor car.
Over the course of a number of
years, Taylor and his team of designers engaged with the client in a
wonderfully intellectual journey as they worked together to realise the
customer’s distinct vision and bring it to life.
The result of this one-off
coachbuild project is the completely unique Rolls-Royce ‘Sweptail’. The car apparently costs US $ 12.8 million (Rs 82 crore approx.). The car was
shown to the media at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este on May 27, 2017
by Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
The ‘Sweptail’ is without
question a Rolls-Royce that fits to the marque’s DNA. Its initial formality
when seen from the front signals that this is one very different and distinct
Rolls-Royce. One’s attention is first attracted by the confident and solid
character of the front profile, centred on 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 painstakingly polished by hand to a
mirror finish. The periphery of the front face of ‘Sweptail’ is framed in
As one moves around to the
side of ‘Sweptail’ one finds that it is the striking silhouette that defines
its unique character. Flowing as they do from upright and formal frontal
aspect, the lines of ‘Sweptail’ resolve into a sveltely elegant form. From the
leading edge of the windscreen, the roofline accelerates as it fires backwards
towards the rear of the motor car, overshooting the boot lid edge to emphasise
its length. The longer side window graphic and wide C-pillar finisher
underscore the length and proportions of this more wondrous of conveyances.
Both the roof line as it tapers
towards the centre line of the car, concluding in a ‘bullet-tip’ that houses
the centre brake light, and the sweeping lower bumper area of the motor car,
combine to create a greater feeling of elegance in motion.
The cleanliness of the surface
of ‘Sweptail’ is maintained as the bodywork wraps under the car with no visible
boundary to the surfaces, a treatment that is akin to the hull of a yacht. The
underside of the motor car 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.
And finishing off the
uncluttered rear of this one-off motor car, is its identifier and registration
number, 08. Two individual digits milled from ingots of aluminium and hand
The panoramic glass roof
invites one into the magnificent interior, along with the natural light
The highlight feature of
‘Sweptail’ however is that specifically asked for by the client. An
uninterrupted glass roof, one of the largest and most complex ever seen on a
motor car of any marque, allows the cabin to be flooded with natural light,
animating a host of beautifully handcrafted materials and componentry.
The size, scale and complexity
of the glass roof’s curvature is a marvel to behold, and from above again
accentuates the speed and elegance of ‘Sweptail’. Creating the ambience of the
interior of the motor car, the glass of the roof is framed by polished
aluminium rails that channel it into a vanishing point at the rearmost
extremity of the cabin.
The cleanliness and grandeur
of the bodywork from the side view, the lengthened side windows and the
panoramic glass roof combine to illuminate the two singular occupants of this
most singular Rolls-Royce and its modern, minimalistic handcrafted interior.
The interior is ruled by a
philosophy of simplicity and minimalism leading to a distillation of
componentry and a purification of clutter. The value of beautiful materials
takes precedence here, resulting in a fastidious suppression of switchgear to
the absolute minimum to make way for the richest of materials applied in the
most honest of fashions. An uninterrupted and harmonious visual experience of
every surface inside the cabin is ensured.
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.
True to the spirit of a transcontinental GT
that Rolls-Royce established in the 20s and 30s, in place of the rear seats is
a vast expanse of wood creating a mid-shelf with an illuminated glass lip, and
a hat shelf which flows to the outer limits of the interior volume. Sitting
under the rear opening backlight through which it can be accessed, the hat
shelf is in itself a thing of beauty, highly polished and inset with luggage
Behind the occupants, a
feature named the Passarelle flows from the rear edge of the windscreen to resolve
in a teardrop as it connects to the hat shelf to join all interior volumes.
This element also includes the only visible presence of this singular motor
car’s name as ‘Sweptail’ is discreetly debossed into the surface, exactly on
the centre line.
Other modern materials and
modern uses of those materials feature. The Macassar Ebony veneer seen around
the cabin has been handcrafted to adorn the dashboard in the most modern way.
The cleanest Rolls-Royce dashboard to date, the minimalist ethic not only dictates
that only one control now appears on it whilst all other switchgear is
discreetly relocated, but that the clock blends seamlessly too. In a world
first, the face of this singular Rolls-Royce clock is also 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 then
extends to the faces, numbers and hands on all three hand-assembled instrument
Two final surprise and delight
features have been secreted inside ‘Sweptail’ to the stringent standards of the
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, deploys forward to
present the owner’s bespoke made attaché case which has been carefully packaged
to exactly house his personal laptop device. The cases themselves have been
hand-constructed 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
twinned with the full set of luggage also developed by Rolls-Royce Bespoke for
‘Sweptail’. The luggage resides in the trunk of the motor car, a trunk
beautifully clad in the same wood as the hat shelf and inset with polished
aluminium luggage rails.
The entire centre console now
houses a one-off hand-built mechanism that, at the touch of a button, will
deploy 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 articulates the bottle to the perfect position for the owner
to pick up.
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