As a House of Luxury, Rolls-Royce imbues its products with meaning. A Rolls-Royce serves as a canvas onto which clients reflect their personal tastes, express ambitions and often, define legacies. The Bespoke treatment of a Rolls-Royce elegantly reflects its status as ‘the best car in the world’ while stylishly expressing the personality of its commissioning client.
Ever increasingly, clients appreciate and enjoy the marque’s Bespoke capabilities and Rolls-Royce is called upon, by its clients, to integrate itself into their lives in meaningful ways. The brand and its clients have become progressively closer and the designers, engineers and craftspeople at the Home of Rolls-Royce, a Global Centre of Luxury Manufacturing Excellence, have developed a unique fluency in interpreting the lifestyles of these remarkable women and men.
This evolution of mutual confidence has resulted in ever more ambitious commissions, reaching well beyond the scope of Bespoke competencies and capacity, into the rarefied realm of coachbuilding. To fulfil these extraordinary client commissions Rolls-Royce has reached a decision to return to one of the historical roots of the marque and to initiate a distinct department within the company, Rolls-Royce Coachbuild.
The discipline inherent in Rolls-Royce’s approach to coachbuilding requires elite artistic skills that do not exist elsewhere in the automotive industry. Commissioning clients demand an object that is truly transformative; an object that makes a permanent statement and sets itself apart from anything that has gone before.
In response, the marque must interrogate and deeply understand two worlds. The first is the intimately personal context of the client – their individual life-space, how they celebrate, what and who they surround themselves with, and the experiences that have defined the very best moments in these exceptional people’s lives. The second is the broader cultural context in which a Coachbuild car will exist. Here the marque explores the cultural nuances of the client, movements in architecture, couture, colour palettes, artistic tastes – even hospitality.
The first Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, is a curation of exceptional thoughts, concepts and items, which culminate to form the clients’ perfect experience. The commissioning patrons, a globally successful couple who are highly proficient in the appointment of Rolls-Royces, truly personify connoisseurship; their luxury curation is an artform in itself. Their proposition was purposefully self-indulgent. Their desire was to create a response to a life of hard work, success achieved, and celebration required. Their Rolls-Royce Boat Tail should be joyful, a celebratory car to enjoy with their family.
Together, with the marque’s designers, they embarked on an intellectual journey, founded on a long-standing and creative relationship with the brand. Indeed, the clients’ fascination of the Boat Tail form was furthered by a motor car in their private collection; a 1932 Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, lovingly restored, by them, in time for their modern Boat Tail’s completion.
Rolls-Royce Boat Tail presents a wonderful new aesthetic for the marque, balancing previously unseen levels of sculpture with discrete, sometimes playful functionality. The creation tells the romantic tale of Rolls-Royce’s history, echoing a Boat Tail design but not explicitly mimicking it, fusing an historical body type with a thoroughly contemporary design.
At nearly 5.8m long, its generosity of proportion and clarity of surface present a graceful and relaxed stance. The front profile is centred on a new treatment of Rolls-Royce’s iconic pantheon grille and lights. The grille becomes an integral part of the front end, not an applique; a freedom of design bestowed only upon models within the Coachbuild portfolio. This progressive treatment softens Rolls-Royce’s familiar formality while retaining the marque’s undeniable presence. A strong horizontal graphic with deep-set daytime running lights forms Boat Tail’s intense brow line and frames classical round headlamps, a design feature recalled from the design archives of Rolls-Royce.
In profile, nautical references are very suggestive. The wrap-around windscreen recalls the visor on motor launches, while the gentle rearward lean of the A-pillar, the large, crisp volumes at the front and the tapered rear create a gesture that recalls a motor launch rising out of water under power. A progressive negative sculpture in the lower bodyside creates a lithe impression, while making an historical reference to the running boards of prominent heritage Rolls-Royce designs.
Viewed from dead rear, the body resolves in a gentle sharpening of the form. As with the front, a horizontal emphasis is established at the rear with wide, deep-set lamps – a break from the expected vertical Rolls-Royce lamp iconography.
Indeed, it is at the rear where the nautical references become more apparent. The aft deck, a modern interpretation of the wooden rear decks of historical Boat Tails, incorporates large swathes of wood. Caleidolegno veneer is applied in a feat of Rolls-Royce engineering; the grey and black material which is typically housed in the interior, has been specially adapted to be used on the exterior, with no compromise to the aesthetic.
The open pore material features a linear wood grain which is visually elongated by brushed stainless steel pinstripe inlays, serving as an optical nod to the typical wooden construction of yachts – both old and new. The honed skills of Rolls-Royce’s wood specialists have manipulated and book-matched the grain so as to contract with the geometry of the car. The veneer treatment extends to the lower transom area resolving the taper and overall volume astern. This bold truncation is a subtle reference to the hull lines of classic Boat Tail bodies.
From the rear, one perceives a strong graphical composition marked by further horizontal emphasis, accentuating Boat Tail’s great width. Deep-set lamps establish a dramatically low reference point, evoking the dipped stern and proud bow of a motor launch under power and on plane.
The exterior of Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is swathed in a rich and complex tone of the client’s favourite colour – blue. The hue, with an overt nautical connotation, is subtle when in shadows but in sunlight, embedded metallic and crystal flakes bring a vibrant and energetic aura to the finish.
To ensure the smoothest possible application when rendering the exterior, a finger was run over the definitive body line before the paint had fully dried to soften its edges. The wheels are finished in bright blue, highly polished and clear coated to add to Boat Tail’s celebratory character.