Gulf Auto Zone

Sweptail Lifts RR to Pinnacle

Rolls Royce introduced the Sweptail to the media at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este.  It was the realisation of one man’s dream – a connoisseur’s idea of a two-seat Rolls Royce. He wanted the car, a feature of certain models from the 1920s, to be built into his model, a one-off motor car.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars described Sweptail as a car in the pantheon of the world’s great intercontinental tourers. If the 103EX model shone a light on the future of Rolls-Royce in this field, ‘Sweptail’ is proof, today, that the car maker is at the pinnacle of coach building.

“This model is the automotive equivalent of haute couture,” said 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.”

Inspired by the beautiful coachbuilt Rolls-Royces of the 1920s and 1930s, the client’s desire was for a coach-built two- seater coupé featuring a large panoramic glass roof. As a connoisseur of Rolls-Royce cars he was inspired by many of his favourites from the marque’s golden era, of the early 20th Century, as well as many classic and modern yachts.

The grandeur, scale, flamboyance and drama of the 1925 Phantom I Round Door built by Jonckheere; the svelte tapering glasshouse, dramatic dash to axle proportion and up-sweep of the rear departure angle of the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon by Park Ward; the elegantly falling waist-rail, swept tail coachwork of the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon, and the flowing roofline, rising departure angle, and again the swept tail coachwork of the 1934 Park Ward 20/25 Limousine Coupé were all considered by today’s Rolls-Royce designers in the creation of this very distinctive motor car.

“Our job was to guide, edit and finely hone the lines that would ultimately give our client this most perfect of Rolls-Royces,” comments Taylor.

The result of this one-off coach build project is the completely unique Rolls-Royce.

The Sweptail is without doubt a RR that fits to the marque’s DNA. Its initial formality, when seen from the front, signals that this is one very different and distinct RR. The attention is first attracted by the confident and solid character of the front profile, centred on a new treatment of the iconic Rolls-Royce Pantheon grille. The largest of any modern era Rolls-Royce cars, the grille is milled from solid aluminium before being hand- polished to a mirror finish. The periphery of the front face of  this unique piece is framed in brushed aluminium.

On moving to the side 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 emphasise 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 the brand 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 aluminium and hand polished.

The highlight of  the Sweptail, however, is an uninterrupted glass roof, specifically requested for by the client.  It is one of the largest and most complex ever seen on a motorcar of any marque, allowing the cabin to be flooded with natural light, animating a host of beautifully handcrafted materials and componentry.

The size, scale and complexity of the glass roof’s curvature is a marvel to behold, and from above again accentuates the speed and elegance of the car. Creating the ambience of the interior of the motorcar, the glass of the roof is framed by polished aluminium rails that channel it into a vanishing point at the rearmost extremity of the cabin.

The provision of only two seats in a motor car of this size exudes the romance of travel for its own sake. This is furthered by the overall design of the interior, conceived in a classic two-seat GT configuration, echoing the touring nature of its exterior body lines. 

The interior is ruled by a philosophy of simplicity and minimalism leading to a distillation of componentry and a purification of clutter. The value of beautiful materials takes precedence here, resulting in a fastidious suppression of switchgear to the absolute minimum to make way for the richest of materials applied in the most honest of fashions.

An uninterrupted and harmonious visual experience of every surface inside the cabin is ensured.

Generous quantities of polished Macassar Ebony and open-pore Paldao adorn the interior, creating visual and tactile contrasts for the owner, both classical and contemporary. All their forms however are thoroughly modern as they echo the exterior lines of this modern Sweptail, hand-formed to encircle the occupants with some of the most beautiful natural materials in the world. This choice of dark and light, ebony and Paldao, is set off by contrasting light moccasin and dark spice leathers that adorn the seats, armrests and dashboard top.

But it is what those materials have been made to do that is the most fascinating aspect of this one-off cabin. True to the spirit of a transcontinental GT that Rolls-Royce established in the 20s and 30s, in place of the rear seats is a vast expanse of wood creating a mid-shelf with an illuminated glass lip, and a hat shelf which flows to the outer limits of the interior volume. Sitting under the rear opening backlight through which it can be accessed, the hat shelf is in itself a thing of beauty, highly polished and inset with luggage rails.

Behind the occupants, a feature named the Passarelle flows from the rear edge of the windscreen to resolve in a teardrop as it connects to the hat shelf to join all interior volumes. This element also includes the only visible presence of this singular motor car’s name as Sweptail is discreetly debossed into the surface, exactly on the centre line.

The other modern materials and modern uses of those materials feature the Macassar Ebony veneer seen around the cabin, handcrafted to adorn the dashboard in the most modern way. The cleanest Rolls-Royce dashboard to date, the minimalist ethic not only dictates that only one control now appears on it while all other switchgear is discreetly relocated, but that the clock blends seamlessly too. In a world first, the face of this singular Rolls-Royce clock is also handmade of the thinnest Macassar veneer, visually embedding the clock into the fascia.

The delicacy of this particular piece of veneer allows for its rear illumination to pass through to show the hour marks, meaning the only physical elements on the clock are its hands that are precision machined from titanium. This use of titanium then extends to the faces, numbers and hands on all three hand-assembled instrument dials.

Two final surprise and delight features have been secreted inside the brand to the stringent standards of the client.

Concealed in the outboard walls on either side of the motor car, behind the opening of the coach doors, are two identical panniers. Each pannier, when activated, deploys forward to present the owner’s bespoke made attaché case which has been carefully packaged to exactly house his personal laptop device. The cases themselves have been hand-constructed from lightweight carbon fibre, wrapped in the finest leather that matches the interior of ‘Sweptail’ and detailed with machined aluminium and titanium clasps and locks.

These attaché cases are twinned with the full set of luggage also developed by Rolls-Royce Bespoke for ‘Sweptail’. The luggage resides in the trunk of the motor car, a trunk beautifully clad in the same wood as the hat shelf and inset with polished aluminium luggage rails.

The coup de gras of this one-off masterpiece is as personal to the owner as every other feature of ‘Sweptail’. The entire centre console now houses a one-off hand-built mechanism that, at the touch of a button, will deploy a bottle of the client’s favourite vintage champagne – the year of his birth – and two crystal champagne flutes. As the lid of the chiller opens, the mechanical action articulates the bottle to the perfect position for the owner to pick up.

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.

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.

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.

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