Sweptail is a highly bespoke motor car created by Rolls-Royce to fulfill the dreams of a single customer. Unveiled at Villa d’Este for Concorso d’Eleganza, it evokes the drama of the swept-tail Rolls-Royces from the 1920s. When, approximately one year ago, Rolls-Royce presented 103EX to the world, it invoked its coachbuilding heritage to inspire its future clientele.
This Vision Vehicle envisaged a world of completely personal luxury mobility where new technologies would allow every Rolls-Royce to be designed in their owners’ image, should they wish. Such a Rolls-Royce would represent the truest meaning of luxury – a personal, Bespoke motor car like no other for each individual commissioning patron.
The owner of this car, who doesn’t wish to be named, has deep pockets. Very deep pockets, since the special Rolls is rumored to cost around $13 million. The unnamed gentleman came to Rolls-Royce to realize his vision of a one-off luxury motor car that would evoke the beauty of coachbuilt Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s. He asked for a two-seat coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof.
That motor car is here, now and is christened ‘Sweptail’.
Presenting the car to the media at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este on Saturday 27th May 2017, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said, “Sweptail is a truly magnificent car. It exudes the romance of travel for its own sake, and immediately places ‘Sweptail’ in the pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers. Rolls-Royce’s history as the world’s leading coachbuilder is at the very core of its identity as the world’s leading luxury brand. The arrival of 103EX shone a light on the future of Rolls-Royce in this field, and ‘Sweptail’ is proof, today, that Rolls-Royce is at the pinnacle of coachbuilding. We are listening carefully to our most special customers and assessing their interest in investing in similar, completely exclusive coachbuilt masterpieces. At the same time we are looking into the resources which will allow us to offer this unique service to these discerning patrons of luxury.”
‘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.”
It took a number of years for Taylor and his team of designers to bring this vision to life. “Our job was to guide, edit and finely hone the lines that would ultimately give our client this most perfect of Rolls-Royces,” says Taylor.
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. Amongst his inspirations were the dramatic 1925 Phantom I Round Door – the svelte tapering glasshouse, dramatic dash to axle proportion and up-sweep of the rear departure angle of the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon. Other classics from the marque’s golden age informing this car were the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon and the Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupé.
The grille is the largest fitted to any modern-era Rolls Royce. It’s milled from a single piece of aluminum, before being hand-polished to a mirror shine. Further back you’ve the “swept-tail” that gives the car its name, while Rolls says the way the bodywork wraps under the car “with no visible boundary to the surfaces” is “akin to the hull of a yacht”. Meanwhile the “bullet-tip” centre brake light and lower bumper “combine to create a greater feeling of elegance in motion”.
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 emphasize 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.
Both the roof line as it tapers towards the centre line of the car, concluding in a ‘bullet-tip’ that houses the centre brake light, and the sweeping lower bumper area of the motor car, combine to create a greater feeling of elegance in motion.
The cleanliness of the surface of ‘Sweptail’ is maintained as the bodywork wraps under the car with no visible boundary to the surfaces, a treatment that is akin to the hull of a yacht. The underside of the motor car was designed to deliver the visual of a progressive upward sweep at the rear departure angle of the car, culminating in the swept-tail that gives ‘Sweptail’ it name.
And finishing off the uncluttered rear of this one-off motor car, is its identifier and registration number, 08. Two individual digits milled from ingots of aluminum and hand polished.
The “highlight” of the exterior though, says Rolls, is the panoramic glass roof. They claim it’s “one of the most complex ever seen on a motor car”. It’s certainly among the biggest. Creating the ambience of the interior of the motor car, the glass of the roof is framed by polished aluminum rails that channel it into a vanishing point at the rearmost extremity of the cabin.
The panoramic glass roof illuminates a minimalist interior, ‘decked’ out in materials as rich as you’d expect from the marque. Dark ebony wood and ‘Dark Spice’ leather are complimented by lighter paldao wood and ‘Moccasin’ leather. The minimalist ethic is taken to the extreme with the dashboard, which ditches everything except for one single physical control – everything else is hidden away to allow the materials to star.
This philosophy is perhaps best embodied in the Sweptail’s clock, which is simply carved into the same ebony veneer as the rest of the dash. The thinness of the veneer allows the numbers to be illuminated through the wood, letting the clock blend seamlessly into the rest of the dash.
Behind the two enormous front seats, instead of a rear bench you’ll find an vast expanse of wood, ideal for storing designer suitcases. The center armrest is a chiller for a bottle of vintage champagne and two crystal champagne flutes.
A most personal, coachbuilt Rolls-Royce for a specific customer, every aspect of the material treatment of ‘Sweptail’ exudes handcrafted quality and exacting attention to detail. In short, it is a Rolls-Royce – but like no other before.