Today, personalizing a car usually means picking a special paint color or interior trim. But in the 1920s and 1930s, the world’s wealthiest buyers went a lot further than that. In those prewar years, it was the norm for luxury cars to be decked out in completely custom bodywork. Now, Rolls-Royce is trying to bring that back.
Unveiled at the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the Rolls-Royce Sweptail is a one-off commission created for a customer with very specific tastes, and very deep pockets. Said customer approached Rolls in 2013 about building a one-off car, and the automaker’s design department spent several years bringing the idea to reality.
The “Sweptail” name and design reference swept-tail Rolls-Royce designs from the 1920s. The car, which appears to be based on the now-defunct Phantom Coupe, features a fastback roof that ends in a pointed tail, a design flourish rarely seen today. Virtually all of that roof is covered in glass, which should make for quite a view, but also ensures the air conditioning will be running on full blast on sunny days.
At the front, the Sweptail features a massive grille, the largest on any modern Rolls, according to the company. It was milled from a solid chunk of aluminum, and hand polished to a mirror finish. The rest of the front fascia is framed in a brushed aluminum ring, further emphasizing its considerable width.
Despite being a very large car, the Sweptail only seats two. The space behind the rear seats is taken up by a wood-covered luggage shelf, which looks like someone inserted a section of deck from a yacht into the cabin. As with all Rolls cars, the interior is trimmed in high-end wood and leather. Designers also tried to eliminate as much switchgear as possible from the dashboard to create a cleaner look, and found space in the door sills for attaché cases, each designed to hold a laptop. The finishing touch is a champagne cooler in the center console. Drinking and driving is still illegal in most places, of course.
How much does all of this opulence cost? Rolls would not disclose a price, but CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös believes it could be the “most expensive new car ever,” according to Motor1. Rolls may build other one-off cars in the future, although it reportedly won’t repeat the process it went through to make the Sweptail. Rather than take requests from customers, Rolls may build special cars itself, and then sell them off.
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