Rolls Royce Sweptail : World’s most expensive car
The Rolls Royce Sweptail unveiled this weekend at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este, Italy, could be the most expensive vehicle yet, costing around 10 million pounds, or $12.5a Rolls Royce, hand-built by drawing inspiration from its coachbuilts of the 1920s and 1930s.
Rolls-Royce’s “first contemporary Coachbuild” Sweptail is taking luxury for one gentleman and mediocrity for the rest of the mankind to unfathomable levels.
The Sweptail, unveiled this weekend at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este, Italy, d’Este, is a hand-built luxury car that drew an inspiration from the company’s coachbuilds from the 1920s and 1930s.
At roughly $3 million, the Bugatti Chiron is one of the most expensive production cars to ever reach showrooms. So, the words “affordable” and “Bugatti” rarely, if ever, occupy real estate in the same sentence. However, that’s exactly what happened over the weekend.
On Saturday, Rolls-Royce unveiled a one-off custom build called the Sweptail. At a reported price of nearly $13 million , it is believed to be the most expensive new car ever commissioned, the Telegraph reported.
While it may not be quite as pricey as the most expensive car of all-time – a $38 million Ferrari 250 GTO – the Rolls is still the price of four brand new Bugatti Chirons.
For Rolls-Royce, the Sweptail represents a return to prominence of the brand’s time-honored coach-building business.
‘Sweptail’ – how the vision became the reality
“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, 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 Taylor, who set about bringing the idea to life.
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 modern yachts.
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 provision of only two seats in a motor car of this size exudes the romance of travel for its own sake, and immediately places ‘Sweptail’ in the pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers. This is furthered by the overall design of the interior, which has been conceived in a classic two-seat GT configuration, echoing the touring nature of its exterior body lines.
And what a place to be as one watches the world slip by through the vast windows and roof, detached from the outside world in a cocoon of luxury whilst feeling one is part of that passing landscape.
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.
But it is what those materials have been made to do that is the most fascinating aspect of this one-off cabin. 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 rails.
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 dials.
‘Sweptail’ – A distinct vision
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 brushed aluminium.
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. The scale and grandeur of this regal looking coupé is evident. 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.
The coup de gras of the rear is the ultimate homage to the world of racing yachts that inspired the client, with its raked stern. Seen directly from behind, the rear taper contrasts strongly with the front of the motor car, shaping a completely new perception of a dramatic Rolls-Royce Coupé.
“Sweptail is the automotive equivalent of Haute Couture,” Rolls-Royce Motor Cars director of design, Giles Taylor said in a statement. “It is a Rolls-Royce designed and hand-tailored to fit a specific customer.”
And it’s the result of four years of work.
According to Rolls, an individual customer approached the company in 2013 and ask them to build a one-of-a-kind motor car inspired by the luxury yachts of the 1920s and 30s.
The Sweptail’s signature feature is a single-piece glass roof that tapers into the car’s fastback rear end. It’s a design feature that dominates the car’s overall silhouette.
Rolls-Royce has not released technical specs of the car. However, the Sweptail is believed to be based on the current generation Phantom platform, which means some version of the company’s 6.75 liter, V12 is lurking under the car’s long bonnet.