Rolls-Royce has unveiled what is likely to be the most expensive car ever built, in addition to announcing the creation of a new business division to handle custom vehicles for VIPs.
The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is a two-door, four-seat grand tourer inspired by J-class yachts and produced by the British marque’s relaunched Coachbuild division. Only three of these cars will ever be built and is expected to cost around US$28 million each.
This 5.8m-long, hand-built convertible features a single design credo shared among its three patrons: show me something that I have never seen before. With this in mind, Rolls-Royce set out to build an ultra-exclusive, bespoke car that matches their clients’ deep affinity for nautical design. From the front it might look like your usual Rolls-Royce with its iconic pantheon grille and lights, but the maritime heritage starts off with the wrap-around windscreen that evokes the visor on motor launch vessels and continues with the blue hues in the exterior and interior.
What really amps up the nautical inspiration is at the rear or the aft deck. It features a modern interpretation of the wooden rear decks of the original 1932 Boat Tail by incorporating Caleidolegno veneer and linear wood grain elongated by brushed stainless steel.
And just as you’d celebrate special occasions on a yacht, so would you do on the Boat Tail. Press a button and the deck opens like butterfly doors to reveal a champagne refrigerator, as well as custom cutlery and porcelain plates. The hosting suite is completed with a specially designed retractable parasol, built-in rotating cocktail tables and stowaway stools designed by Rolls-Royce together with famed Italian furniture maker Promemoria.
The luxuriousness of the Boat Tail extends inside where the dashboard clock is provided by Swiss atelier Bovet, and instrument panel dials that are adorned using the guilloche technique usually employed by fine jewellers and watchmakers. And if that wasn’t enough, a Montblanc pen is housed in a handcrafted aluminum and leather case in the glove box, at the request of the owner.
“Rolls-Royce has carefully listened to its closest clients, each of whom has expressed a desire to deepen their relationship with the brand by creating ambitious, personal statements of true luxury,” said Chief Executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös. “This is authentic luxury. This is contemporary patronage in its truest form.”
This is not the first time Rolls-Royce entered the field of ‘automotive haute couture’. Since its inception in 1906, the company actually only produced the chassis with coachbuilders handling the bodywork. It is this same philosophy that Rolls-Royce employed when it created the one-off Sweptail in 2017, which at US$12.8 million was the world’s most expensive car until it was overtaken by the US$18.7 million Bugatti La Voiture Noire in 2019.
With the relaunch of its Coachbuild division, the West Sussex-based company returns to its coachbuilding roots by handcrafting automobile masterpieces that reflect the personal tastes, ambitions and legacies of their commissioning clients. While Rolls-Royce already has its Bespoke division to handle unique customizations, Coachbuild is intended for more ambitious commissions that go well beyond Bespoke’s competencies and capacity.
“Coachbuild provides freedom to move beyond the usual constraints,” said Alex Innes, head of the Coachbuild Design. “Normally there is a natural ceiling at Bespoke by way of the canvas. At Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, we break through that ceiling, embracing the freedom of expression afforded by coachbuilding to shape a concept directly with our commissioning patrons.”