In 2013 one of Rolls-Royce's most valued customers approached it with an intriguing request: create a completely unique one-off motorcar, and damn the cost. Four years and $12 million later, Rolls has unveiled the "Sweptail" at the Concorso d’Eleganza in Italy, a nod to the rakish "swept tail" seen on Rolls models in the 1920s and '30s.
The stylish two-seater coupe is a tribute to the lost art of coachbuilding, when each luxury car was a truly custom commission designed after one had purchased an engine and chassis. The customer, a connoisseur and collector of distinctive, one-off items including superyachts and private aircraft, according to Rolls, didn't want to be seen driving the same old thing as every other multimillionaire.
The most distinctive feature of the beautiful ride is its sweeping, tapered panoramic glass roof extending all the way back to the boot. Specific inspirations were the 1925 Phantom I Round Door built by Jonckheere; the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon by Park Ward; the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon; and the 1934 Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupé, all ultimate examples of the coachbuilder's art.
Inside the vehicle is just as beautiful. The interior is "ruled by a philosophy of simplicity and minimalism leading to a distillation of componentry and a purification of clutter," as Rolls puts it. Switches and levers have been reduced to an absolute minimum to maximize the beauty of the precious materials used.
Specifically, vast swathes of polished Macassar Ebony and exotic Paldao wood in contrasting dark and light tones, set off by gorgeous Moccasin and Dark Spice leather wrapping the seats, armrests and dashboard top. And where you'd normally expect to find rear seats is a vast expanse of wood creating a shelf, incorporating a special hat shelf, which is highly polished and inset with luggage rails.
There are a few features of the Sweptail that would make even James Bond jealous: concealed in the walls are two identical compartments which can be deployed to present bespoke attaché cases, hand-crafted from lightweight carbon fibre, wrapped in the finest leather matching the interior of the car, with titanium hardware. They of course match a full set of luggage fitted to the car's trunk. And the coup de grace is a hidden mechanism in the center console that, at the touch of a button, will deploy a bottle of the client’s favorite vintage champagne – the year of his birth, natch – and two crystal champagne flutes. Chilled to perfection, of course....