Coachbuilding isn’t dead and Rolls-Royce proved it at the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este, Lake Como, Italy, where the company unveiled a new bespoke car that had been commissioned by client. Called Sweptail, it is believed to be the most expensive new car ever made. Not only was its sales price huge, the car itself is huge in both presence and dimensions.
The project began several years ago when a discerning client brought a request to Rolls-Royce to build something that would invoke the ghost of Rolls-Royces of yesteryear. The chief designer for the project, Giles Taylor, and the client reviewed many of the standout cars from the company’s early history. Back then, the company made the chassis and controls and turned over construction of the body to the customer’s choice of number of very talented coach makers.
We’ll let James Lipman’s stunning photography tell the story of the car’s lines. It’s easy to see how the sweeping lines of the boat tailed Rollers of the 20’s and 30’s inspired this build. Its drivetrain is from the outgoing Phantom.
The Sweptail’s profile is very interesting. The wheelbase appears short in comparison to the amount of car hanging out behind the rear axle. The drivetrain is from the Phantom, but Rolls didn’t disclose the wheelbase. Its profile is borderline ungainly, yet somehow pulls off the look when you realize what is going on with the rear of the car.
The exterior has many standout features from a permanent number plate from polished aluminum to the largest grill Rolls-Royce has put on a modern car. Quite brilliant in the sunshine, the grill was made from a single piece of aluminum that was polished by hand to a beautiful finish.
The rest of the Sweptail’s exterior takes design cues from wooden motor yachts of the 20’s and 30’s. For example, the rocker panels wrap underneath the car, hiding their termination point somewhere beyond eyesight like the hull of a yacht.
Of course the most dramatic and eye-catching feature of the Sweptail is the design detail that inspired its name. The rear of the car is a beautiful sweeping rear boot lid that tapers toward a ‘bullet-tip,’ which houses the third brake light. Rolls-Royce says the design “create a greater feeling of elegance in motion.” We think they’re right.
The interior is just a spectacular as the exterior. The interior is bathed in sunlight via a large panoramic glass roof. Like the rest of the car, the glass roof is massive. It begins aft of the windshield and continues in one single piece to the back of the Sweptail.
The car is only has two seats, but that is all the owner says he needs. In place of rear seats is more wood with an illuminated glass lip and a hat shelf with inset luggage rails. Back here is the only name badge on the car. “Sweptail” is deposed into the surface.
Free from clutter, every control knob or indicator light that could be stowed away was, creating a very clean look and emphasizing the quality of workmanship with House of Rolls-Royce is capable of.
Amongst all the special details are two panniers which, when activated, move forward to present the passengers identical bespoke attachés. Custom made to hold the owner’s laptop, the attachés are carbon fiber and wrapped in fine leather. Rolls completed their construction with machine aluminum details and titanium clasps and locks.
The dash features another first for Rolls-Royce: a clock with a wood face. It’s actually a very trick piece. The clock face is a very thin veneer of wood which allowed Rolls to project the hour marker from behind. Ebony and Paldao wood and Moccasin and Dark Spice leather were used throughout.
Lastly, and most likely just for the show of it, the center console houses and chills a bottle of champagne and two crystal flutes. A custom mechanism deploys the bottle at the touch of a button.
Does all this sound expensive? It seems so. The sales price was rumored to be $12,800,000, making it the most expensive new car ever sold. Was it worth it? Only one lucky owner knows!