The word bespoke gets tossed around a lot, but the reality of true one-off construction scares all but the boldest of carmakers away from the painstaking practice. Rolls-Royce is one of the only contemporary manufacturers to tackle true coachbuilding, reviving a practice that hasn't been popular since World War II with their second one-off in modern history, the latest Boat Tail.
Unveiled at the 2022 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, Boat Tail number two drafts on the trailblazing Sweptail, the swoopy coupe that debuted at the event in 2017. Commissioned by a pearling industry magnate, this al fresco four-seater incorporates a novel fold-out rear section that produces a picnic set and a telescoping parasol, just like the beautiful blue Boat Tail that Beyonce and Jay-Z allegedly bought for £20 million.
Gallery: Rolls-Royce Boat Tail In Bronze
But it's more than just a party trick for gadget lovers. Incorporated are a number of inventive details that show what happens when an ambitious carmaker and a well-heeled client – or a patron as one Rolls-Royce exec says – partner up in a process that took about four years from beginning to end. As before, the luxury brand won’t reveal the dollar amount paid for this one-off, but considering the Sweptail was a $10 million machine five years ago, it's fair to bust out the familiar more than you can afford quip.
Here are seven Boat Tail details that reveal some of the design and engineering behind the extravagant car and its lofty price tag
The Anti-Rolls-Royce Grille
A stainless-steel Pantheon grille is among the most iconic symbols in motoring, but Boat Tail departs from Rolls’ familiar visual language by starting with a single block of aluminium. Milling the hunk down into a more subdued shape than the conventional grille, Rolls-Royce craftsmen then commit what some would call sacrilege: the top and bottom sections are painted a matte cognac hue that makes it disappear into the bonnet and bumper, leaving only the polished aluminium vanes.
Boat Tail was commissioned by the scion of a pearling industry magnate who wanted to incorporate the family business into the one-off's design. Not only was the exterior paint inspired by four distinctive pearl shells provided by the client, he also supplied the mother of pearl materials embedded into the instrumentation and a unique timepiece featured on the dashboard, setting off the cognac and oyster-coloured hides with small splashes of iridescence.
Genuine Whitewalls, And Genuinely Elaborate Wheels
They went out of fashion with bellbottoms and big hair, but Boat Tail is bringing them back: whitewall tires. These 21-inch Goodyears run a rim of white around the sidewall that provides one of the most genuinely unexpected twists on a modern car. But don’t let the tyres distract you from the wheels, which appear simple but are anything but. They were plated in rose gold, then painted before being laser etched to reveal the contrast, a process Rolls-Royce says was never before done on a production car. And it's all rated to a speed of 155 mph.
Not All That Glitters Is Rose Gold
It would have been easy to slather rose gold across all of the Boat Tail's details and accents. But in the interest of restraint, the owner chose to stick with chrome for a few items like the door handles and A-pillars. Setting off those finishes are yacht-inspired Royal Walnut veneers inlaid with rose gold pinstripes, because restraint is nothing without balance.
Activate the motorised rear deck, and the wood panels open like butterfly wings to reveal the so-called hosting suite. You'll find two rows of place settings that include glassware, plates, silverware, and naturally, there's a champagne chiller. Picnic tables extend and rotate, unfolding the space into an area for not-so-low-key eating and imbibing. Literally topping it all off is a parasol that extends from a chromed metal housing labelled – you guessed it – Parasol.
Discrete 3D Printing
Nearly all of the Boat Tail's materials are familiar and comprehensible: paint, leather, wood, and so forth. But bridging the gap between the tonneau and the cabin is a strip of 3D-printed composite that forms a graphic pattern of negative space. According to Rolls-Royce Head of Coachbuild Design Alex Innes, the purpose was to offer a chamber for air circulation at higher speeds while avoiding vibrations that can come from the speakers hidden below.
The neutrality of the Boat Tail's unique exterior finish enables the body panels to develop inscrutable hues, colours that are more about what’s reflected around them than their own subdued pigments. "I can say with some authenticity that, only a few weeks ago when we viewed the car together with the client in the UK, its tones were white and simplistic," said Innes. "Here, somehow it transformed into the terracotta feeling of the scenery surrounding it. It tells the story of the client in a very restrained and measured way."