Customization has always been a tenet of Rolls-Royce; from the earliest days they built platforms and engines on top of which custom coach builders created incredible works of art. In modern times this was less common and practical, and standard models, as customizable as they were, ruled the era. In 2017, however, the brand revisited custom coachwork with their first fully modern coachbuilt car, the Rolls-Royce Sweptail. This vehicle embodied Rolls-Royce’s capabilities, and it laid the groundwork for developing a full scale Coachbuild department, which allows customers to commission their own unique vehicle.
It’s important to note that Rolls-Royce, more than just about any other automobile company, offers customers the ability to personalize and customize their vehicles in many ways, and their Bespoke service can tackle just about any request. But when personalizing an existing model is not enough, Coachbuild can help customers realize their dreams with a design from the ground up. The process requires years of development (the Boat Tail took four years to create) and a substantial (though undisclosed) investment. These customers work with the Coachbuild team to realize the Rolls-Royce of their dreams, limited only by their imagination, laws of physics and cash. Today, with the official launch of the Coachbuild offer, Rolls-Royce unveils the first of three unique motorcars.
It’s not a surprise that the launch of the Sweptail sent many customers calling Rolls-Royce to realize their own Coachbuild dream car. What is unique is that there were two customers who all were inspired by the J-Class yachts, and that source is frequently called upon in this Boat Tail (referred to as Boat Tail 1). They decided as a group to proceed with a series of three Boat Tail Coachbuild motorcars, each designed and created as unique expressions, the first of which debuts today. No others will be built, timing on the release of the others was not provided, and no cost was disclosed (though we estimate it’s likely north of US$10m). It’s important to note that other than the car’s basic controls and parts like wipers and mirrors the Boat Tails share no other components with current production motorcars; everything is made uniquely for these vehicles (1,813 parts, to be exact).
Two exterior attributes capture attention first: the rich, blue water-inspired hue and the swooping lines the body. The vibrant color—with metallic and crystalline flakes that sparkle in direct light—tantalizes. The bonnet is gradated, a first for the brand. It’s also referenced in the wheels, as well. Eight months were dedicated to developing the proportions of its customized aluminum space-frame body. The hard top is a single piece and is removable, but it is not a convertible top. When out and about, should one find oneself in a spot of inclement weather, a Tonneau top is available for “static transitory shelter.” The Boat Tails use the brand’s Architecture of Luxury platform, which was customized for them.
Inside, one finds the seaworthy blue theme elegantly continued, including the leather mirroring the bonnet’s color transition with a metallic sheen. Guilloché patterning (used on luxury watch dials) graces the analog speedometer and other instrument panels. The entire floor is utilized by the sound system as a resonance chamber so the owners can drop the base. Open pore Caleidolengo veneer is used throughout the cabin as well as the rear decks (both a first for the brand).
Whimsical, unexpected attributes are aplenty. This includes a rear “hosting suite,” complete with double champagne fridge, crystal flutes, custom silver Christofle cutlery, a cocktail table and a pair of custom stools. The engineering required to create the temperature controlled hosting suite took eight months alone to develop, and involves an impressive array of electronic control units and fans to ensure that the clients’ preferred champagne and vintage are always stored at the appropriate temperature.
A custom-designed parasol pops up overhead, too, a detail Alex Innes, Head of Design for Coachbuild, is particularly proud of. “I never thought I’d find myself designing a parasol, but such is the beauty of working for our mark. You can stand close to it, and when deployed it doesn’t in any way impede on position or proximity to it. It almost flowers in terms of the way that it deploys; it is exquisitely detailed and has carbon fiber stays and beautiful polished aluminium telescopic assembly.” Of course, this will only appear in these three Boat Tails, so don’t phone up your dealer thinking you can order one.
Perhaps most impressive of all, the vehicle comes complete with a custom House of Bovet 1822 wristwatch that is placed into a custom housing in the dash, becoming its centerpiece clock. You’re likely concerned about where the owner would put the watch’s straps when it is placed into its mobile home; not to worry, they can be stored in a custom drawer in the dash so they are always nearby and properly secured. This level of dreaming and detail is what Coachbuild is all about.
This is an opportunity very few will be able to take advantage of given the resources involved for the company and its clients, but for those who do, it is evident that Rolls-Royce will deliver beyond what dreams can conjure. Innes says “It’s about changing what the motorcar means, and I think one of the most profound elements of Boat Tail, is that it does that. It’s no longer a car in the way that we understand cars. It’s not about laptimes, it’s not about nought to 60s. It’s not about how fast it goes around the Nurburgring. It’s about what it means and I think that’s where the romance of the 1920s, the 1930s, the golden era of coachbuilding [comes in]. That is what it represents, this notion of challenging the definition of the motorcar.”
“The most extraordinary thing about this project is that it exists,” says Innes, a fitting statement for Boat Tail and the Coachbuild division.
Images courtesy of Rolls-Royce